Monk Entertainment CEO Viraj Sheth Reveals Influencer Truths on The Indian Silicon Valley Podcast

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Monk Entertainment CEO Viraj Sheth Reveals Influencer Truths on The Indian Silicon Valley Podcast

Viraj Sheth is the co-founder and CEO of Monk Entertainment, a leading media enterprise in the digital content industry. He is a 26-year-old media entrepreneur who has been recognized for his remarkable leadership in the influencer marketing space and talent management industry. Viraj, who comes from a traditional Gujarati family in Mumbai, holds a degree in Electronics Engineering from Dwarkadas J. Sanghvi College of Engineering. He co-founded Monk Entertainment with Ranveer Allahbadia in January 2018 and has been instrumental in shaping the company into a prominent player in the creator economy. Viraj has been praised for his ability to lead through crises, his focus on team morale, and his innovative approach to expanding the organization, even during challenging times. He has received various awards for his contributions and was named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 Asia[1][2][3]. You can find more about him on his Instagram and LinkedIn profiles[1][4].








Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for brands, but creators need to be mindful of their impact and prioritize authenticity and ethical partnerships.

Key Insights

Influencer Marketing Insights

🎯 Influencer marketing is a hybrid of Performance Marketing and brand-based marketing, leveraging the brand value and loyalty of the influencer to create targeted campaigns.

πŸ“ Creators are like a four-in-one package, handling scriptwriting, directing, producing, and distribution, unlike traditional actors and agencies.

πŸ“ˆ Identifying potential influencers early on requires understanding their content, target audience, and early signs of engagement.

πŸ’° Creators with a million followers on Instagram can make 2.5 crores a year, but it’s a small subset of people making that kind of money consistently.

πŸ“ˆ Indian creators have the advantage of capturing a large Indian audience first, as India is a huge market for content and potential for significant growth in numbers.

πŸ“ˆ Creators are the new media and challenger brands, challenging traditional platforms and media houses.

πŸ’° Founders are becoming celebrities with strong social media followings, leading to opportunities for monetization and personal brand flourishing.

🚫 Viraj Sheth emphasizes the importance of not misleading the youth and maintaining brand positioning by avoiding partnerships with betting apps.

πŸ‘₯ It is about greed fully and we don’t want to be greedy at the cost of ruining lives or at least being in the position where we stand to ruin lives.

Creator Challenges and Opportunities

🎭 Content creators need to listen to themselves and give the audience what they truly want, not just what will get them applause.

πŸ˜“ The dark side of fame and social media can lead young creators to struggle with ego, vanity, and insecurity, requiring a strong support system and potentially therapy.

Long Summary

  • 00:00 πŸ” Influencers charge high fees for social media posts, but startups and big brands are evolving their marketing strategies to align with their audience and understand the value of influencer marketing.
    • Influencers charge high fees for social media posts, but some are criticized for not being genuine creators.
    • Startups have evolved in their influencer marketing strategies, correcting past mistakes and being more calculated in their spending.
    • Influencer marketing can be ineffective if the influencer's audience does not align with the brand, but larger brands are starting to understand the value of influencer marketing.
    • Monk Entertainment works with both startups and big conglomerates, helping them scale and adapt to the market, with many big brands now reaching out to learn about the impact of influencer marketing.
    • Influencer marketing is not the same as Performance Marketing and cannot guarantee immediate returns, so startups should only invest in it if they are significantly profitable and should understand that it is a hybrid of Performance and brand-based marketing.
    • The speaker discusses the targeted cities, male-female ratio, and age groups of influencers, highlighting the more targeted and less performative nature of influencer marketing compared to traditional advertising.
  • 08:56 πŸ“ˆ Startups should focus on building a strong online presence before investing in influencer marketing, identifying breakout creators early on, and creating content they truly love, as influencer marketing agencies operate on a commission-based model and trends in India have shifted to various genres.
    • Startups should focus on building a strong online presence before investing in influencer marketing, as it can generate significant returns but requires a solid foundation, and influencer marketing agencies operate on a commission-based model where they take a percentage of the deal.
    • Identifying breakout creators early on involves looking for a video-first approach, passion for content creation, and the ability to dabble in multiple genres.
    • Creators need to be agile and versatile, handling all aspects of content creation themselves, unlike traditional agencies.
    • Identifying potential influencers early on involves looking at engagement numbers, early signs, and understanding the kind of content they create and their target audience, as demonstrated by the success of breakout accounts like prosa.
    • The speaker discusses the growth and determination of a successful influencer and the challenges and strategies of creating content that resonates with the audience.
    • Creators should focus on creating content they truly love, and the trends in India have shifted from comedy to fitness, food, education, gaming, finance, and regional content.
  • 27:20 πŸ” Influencers in India are realizing the importance of creating brand-friendly content to monetize their careers, while struggling with the pressure, ego, and darkness that comes with content creation.
    • An influencer in India is gaining massive popularity and followers by living a simplistic life and completing daily challenges, but creators are realizing the importance of creating brand-friendly content to monetize their careers.
    • Improving the quality of content and staying true to oneself is essential for influencers to attract reputable brands and sustain long-term success in the branded content ecosystem.
    • Local social media platforms are struggling to attract creators and monetize their content, as they lack the glamour and incentive for both everyday creators and celebrities to actively engage and post content.
    • Creators with a million followers on Instagram can make a significant amount of money through brand deals and other monetization methods, but it is also extremely taxing and not everyone in this category consistently makes that kind of money.
    • Content creation is extremely difficult and comes with a lot of pressure, ego, vanity, insecurity, and darkness, especially for young creators who struggle to cope with the fame and need a strong support system.
    • The potential for Indian creators to go global lies in capturing the Indian audience first and then creating English-speaking or visually appealing content that transcends language barriers.
  • 49:29 πŸ” Creators and agencies navigate internal conflict to meet brand needs, influencers struggle with brand managers, speaker discusses challenges of managing egos and the democratization of influencer marketing.
    • Creators need to understand the brand's needs and have creative freedom, while agencies work to ensure the brand's interests are met, leading to internal conflict but ultimately a successful campaign.
    • Influencers work with brands to create and present content, but sometimes struggle with brand managers trying to force their own ideas into the script.
    • The speaker started by directly reaching out to CEOs of companies for influencer marketing opportunities, eventually landing a deal with Tinder and then discussing the democratization of the influencer marketing ecosystem.
    • The speaker discusses the challenges of managing egos in the influencer and brand industry, emphasizing the importance of setting boundaries and knowing when to walk away from deals.
    • Creators are the new media and challenger brands, challenging traditional media and opening up new opportunities for monetization and distribution.
    • Influencers can build social currency and captive users on their own platform, regardless of their wealth.
  • 01:06:39 πŸ” New Media has led to the inclusion of politicians and public figures in podcasts, leading to the rise of founder influencers and the trend of extending brands to themselves.
    • The rise of New Media has led to the inclusion of various public figures, including politicians, despite initial hesitation due to the negative perceptions associated with politics and the entertainment industry.
    • The company faced hate and scrutiny after releasing podcasts featuring cabinet ministers, leading to the perception that they were inclined to one viewpoint, which was not the intention.
    • Involving politicians and public figures in new media platforms like podcasts can benefit both the creators and the guests by reaching new audiences and increasing credibility.
    • Founders are now becoming influencers and companies are seeking to manage their founders as celebrities or content creators.
    • Founders are becoming celebrities with strong social media followings, and there is a rise in monetizing their personal brands through social media platforms and shows, with the potential for their celebrity status to continue to grow in the next 5-10 years.
    • Consumers want to relate to the people behind the products they consume, leading to the trend of extending the brand to themselves, but many creator economy startups were built without proper market research and may not be necessary for creators.
  • 01:15:36 πŸ” Creators prioritize making money over tools, angel investing is slowing down, influencers have valuable insights for brands, and partnerships with incentives are crucial for success in the creator economy.
    • Companies were trying to build invoice generator apps for creators, but it's not necessary because creators don't have as many invoices as small businesses.
    • Many creator economy companies have failed because they were built on the assumption that creators wanted more tools, when in reality they just want to make money, and the only lasting companies in the creator economy are those that help creators make money.
    • Creators are not heavily involved in angel investing and are more focused on their own content creation, with the market for angel investing slowing down due to lack of deal flow.
    • Investing in startups is high-risk and requires patience, with creators initially seeing it as a badge of honor but later realizing the uncertainty and risk involved.
    • Influencers have valuable insights into building distribution and understanding consumer groups, and there is a missed opportunity for them to collaborate with brands in a more consultative and strategic way.
    • Brands and creators need to have a partnership with incentives in order to thrive and provide value to consumers.
  • 01:30:03 πŸ” Luck and actively seeking opportunities are important in one's career, standing out and ethical responsibility in influencer marketing are key topics discussed.
    • The speaker discusses how meeting Ranir changed his career path and led him to pursue a career in entertainment instead of going to the US for a corporate job.
    • Luck plays a significant role in one's journey, but actively putting oneself out there and knocking on enough doors is essential to creating opportunities.
    • Standing out in a crowd by being articulate and making sense is the key to gaining opportunities and attention.
    • The speaker talks about how a failed attempt at standing out led to a valuable friendship and opportunities.
    • The CEO of Monk Entertainment discusses the moral responsibility of influencers and brands in creating content that captures viewership without associating with the wrong people or brands.
    • The CEO of Monk Entertainment discusses the ethical dilemmas and boundaries they face in working with brands, particularly in relation to betting apps, and their efforts to ensure their content creators do not promote them.
  • 01:40:54 πŸ” Despite imperfections, ethical choices are prioritized over profitability, with a focus on the founder's journey and impact, while supporting food and education causes and embracing uniqueness.
    • We will not compromise our values for money and strive to make ethical choices, despite our imperfections.
    • Profitability is key in a service business, but companies focused on building a product may start off slow and then become profitable, leading to exponential growth and wealth creation.
    • The speaker discusses the importance of the founder's journey and the impact they want to create, emphasizing the choice to not raise funds and the responsibility of using funds for the benefit of the business.
    • Viraj Sheth would be a marketing or advertising guy in a big consumer company, and he is passionate about supporting food and education causes.
    • The CEO discusses partnering with Robin Hood Army, favorite YouTube creators, choosing money over fame, and managing social media accounts while being a CEO.
    • The speaker discusses his introverted nature and advises young people to back themselves and embrace their uniqueness.


Q1: What is Viraj Sheth’s perspective on influencer marketing, and how does it differ from traditional advertising?


Viraj Sheth, the CEO of Monk Entertainment, views influencer marketing as a blend of Performance Marketing and brand-based marketing that leverages the inherent brand value and loyalty associated with influencers. Unlike traditional advertising, which may involve actors and agencies in a more segmented production process, influencers act as a one-stop-shop, handling scriptwriting, directing, producing, and distribution themselves. This allows for a more targeted and authentic approach to marketing, as influencers are deeply connected with their audience and understand their preferences.

Sheth also emphasizes the importance of startups building a strong online presence before investing in influencer marketing, as it requires a solid foundation to generate significant returns. He points out that influencer marketing is not just about immediate returns, as in Performance Marketing, but also about building brand value over time. Moreover, identifying potential influencers early on by understanding their content, target audience, and engagement metrics is crucial for successful campaigns.

Q2: What are some of the challenges and opportunities influencers face in the Indian market according to Viraj Sheth?


Viraj Sheth outlines that influencers in India face the challenges of coping with the pressures of fame, such as ego, vanity, and insecurity, which can be taxing on their mental health. Young creators, in particular, require a robust support system and sometimes professional therapy to navigate the dark side of social media and maintain their well-being.

On the opportunity side, Indian influencers have the advantage of tapping into the large Indian audience first, which is a significant market for content with the potential for substantial growth in numbers. This initial capture can pave the way for creators to go global by creating content that transcends language barriers or is in English. Furthermore, as creators are increasingly seen as the new media and challenger brands, they have opportunities to monetize their content and personal brands in ways that were not possible before.

Q3: How does Viraj Sheth and Monk Entertainment approach the ethical dilemmas in influencer marketing?


Viraj Sheth takes a strong ethical stance when it comes to influencer marketing, particularly around not misleading the youth or engaging in partnerships that could have a detrimental impact on people’s lives. He specifically cites the example of avoiding partnerships with betting apps, underscoring the need for influencers and their agencies to be mindful of their brand positioning and the potential consequences of the content they promote.

Sheth stresses the importance of making ethical choices even if it means sacrificing profitability. Monk Entertainment prioritizes standing by its values and making decisions that align with its moral compass, even when faced with the allure of high-paying deals that do not meet their ethical standards. This approach includes being selective about the brands they work with and ensuring that their content creators do not promote products or services that could be harmful.

Q4: What insights does Viraj Sheth provide on the monetization and personal branding of influencers and founders?


Viraj Sheth provides several insights into the monetization of influencers and the rise of founders as influencers. He notes that creators with significant followings on platforms like Instagram can generate substantial income through brand deals, with some earning in the crores annually. However, he also points out that this level of income is not consistently made by all influencers and can come with its own set of stresses.

In terms of personal branding, Sheth observes that founders are increasingly becoming celebrities in their own right, with strong social media followings that open up opportunities for monetization beyond their companies. This rise in founder influencers is a growing trend, as consumers seek to connect with the individuals behind the products they use.

Sheth mentions that many creator economy startups have been built without proper market research and may not be necessary for creators who are primarily looking to make money rather than use new tools. Partnerships with incentives are highlighted as crucial for success in the creator economy, where brands and creators collaborate to provide value to consumers.


Note - This content is generated by AI, we believe it is accurate, but we don’t claim any liability of inaccuracies in the AI generated content.

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