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Bhanu Choudhrie is founder and chief executive of the C & C Alpha Group, an international private equity business with a strong focus on emerging markets. He oversees investment strategy, working with a group of experienced venture capitalists.

In this interview with Bhanu we find out more about his business philosophy – and the challenges for venture capital in turbulent economic times….

What is the focus of the C & C Alpha Group’s investments?

At the C & C Alpha Group we have a very diverse portfolio, but we invest primarily in aviation, hospitality, real estate, banking, health care and utilities. We have an international footprint, with a significant presence in the UK; the US; India; and UAE. The team analyses global economic trends and find companies in market niches that are on the brink of expansion. We were early investors in emerging markets and, for several years, sponsored The Emerging Markets Symposium at Oxford University.

What is your philosophy as a venture capitalist?

The C & C Alpha Group has always believed in long-term investment and that has shaped our philosophy for the last 18 years. We incubate and grow companies by believing in them and committing to them. We invest in strong management teams and then trust them to deliver. Our ethos is to not seek quick exits and, because we invest for a longer period than most other venture capital firms, that allows us to support and grow our investments to achieve their maximum potential. A good example of that is Alpha Hospitals, a provider of specialist mental health care, which was an idea we first discussed around the kitchen table and then spent 13 years incubating and scaling up the company before selling it to a US company, Cygnet Health Care, for £95m in 2015.

What do you look for in a company?

We want to be partners, not just investors. In some cases that might be a start-up, which needs not only capitalization, but also guidance in developing its market presence and managing its growth. In other cases, it might be a more established company looking to expand into new markets; we can bring an infusion of capital, but we will also provide added value through our expertise, international contacts, and management support. We have a team of experienced consultants, project managers, project developers, and financial analysts, who have the expertise to help companies achieve their potential.

What was your first major investment?

We invested in Air Deccan in 2003. At the time, it was a low-budget Indian carrier with just one plane in its fleet. The airline was a risk. Four of us invested and we said to each other at the beginning, ‘If it doesn’t work out, at least we can say we had an airline,’ but it played a pivotal role in opening up the airline industry in India. There was a massive boom in aviation because journeys that had taken up to three days by train were now within reach of more people who could afford to fly. Five years later, when Air Deccan was sold to Kingfisher, it was running 200 flights a day and transporting 7 million customers annually.

What is your approach to risk?

As an investor, I am always looking for new ventures that excite me, but, for every two or three opportunities we invest in, we will probably turn down 100. We minimize risk by going in small and increasing our investment incrementally. Once your base is sound, the time is right to take higher investment risks. When I started out, I was willing to take more chances, but as you get older you become more cautious with your investments.

How do you decide on the right growth trajectory for your companies?

This is a dilemma for many venture capitalists. We examined this question at our 2019 annual conference in Dubai, which was led by Professor William Kerr, of Harvard Business School. He suggested one way of looking at this was by asking: ‘Have I earned the right to grow?’ He suggested a four-question framework, which can be summarized as: Is my business ready? Do we have the resources we need? Have the leadership team bought into the vision? What is the cost of standing still?

Another useful way to approach the question is to ask: What was the first thing that worked for my business? Every business has core competencies, but what is your distinctive competency – what do you do better than your rivals? Make growth decisions based on your distinctive competency, not on your core competencies.

As the coronavirus crisis has shown, cash flow is usually the biggest challenge to growth. Sometimes it is better to be less profitable if it allows you to keep hold of capital because raising capital yourself can cost you more than the profit you have sacrificed.

Where do you see the potential in your current investments?

Alpha Aviation Group is a world-class pilot training business, which we have grown over the last 14 years. We identified a clear gap in the APAC market, caused by a shortage of commercial pilots at the very time when passenger demand was increasing dramatically and invested substantially in the business. Alpha Aviation has trained nearly 2,000 pilots from 40 countries. Last year, we opened an $11m simulator in the Philippines, our sixth in the country, and more than any of our competitors. Alpha Aviation Academy UAE, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019, has earned an outstanding international reputation for the quality of its cadet training, giving unprecedented opportunities to female cadets, and forming partnerships with key carriers in the region.

Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on aviation and we are likely to see a consolidation of the pilot training sector; only those with strong cash reserves will survive the pandemic. But in these very difficult circumstances, there is an opportunity to think about how pilot training companies like ours can help airlines. All airlines need to cut costs and pilot training providers need to be more flexible with their price offering to airlines, providing differential pricing. Airlines will need to rethink their pilot training strategy, with more outsourcing and decentralising to ensure they are streamlining and managing their costs. Ultimately, this will be a new opportunity for us.

I am also excited by the growth of Alpha Utilities. We own and operate a desalination plant in Sharjah and we have developed world-beating expertise as a water technology company. Demand for desalinated water is increasing rapidly and is essential for industries in the region. We believe the company will continue to grow, finding new markets and new opportunities to expand in the Emirates and beyond. Global warming poses a significant threat to human health, but it also has the potential to become the single biggest driver of economic transformation.

What impact has coronavirus had on your business?

Our annual conference last year was entitled Business Sustainability, Emerging Risk Analysis and Growth in a Changing Climate. We examined several different scenarios that might threaten business, including Brexit and regional instability in the Middle East, but I don’t remember a global pandemic being one of them!

What we discussed at our conference was adapting to change, whatever your circumstances. If you are running a successful business, it is tempting to think you do not need to change anything about your business model. But in today’s fast-moving world, if you wait until you need to change it you will already be too late. The best CEOs anticipate disruption even before it has happened and are not afraid to change their business to adapt to it, however, counter-intuitive that might seem.

The aviation and hospitality industries have been hit very hard by coronavirus and will feel the impact for years to come. It will have far-reaching repercussions on how we travel, how we holiday, and how we choose to live our lives. But every crisis brings opportunity and the chance for re-invention. I am confident we are well placed to weather the storm and adapt to the new business landscape.

 

Want to know more about some of our work with Venture Capitalists? Then click here to see how we raised the profile of Consilience Ventures  and its alternative start-up ecosystem.

Interview with Bhanu Choudhrie of C & C Alpha Group

In a pay-to-play world, social media advertising is a must for most brands and businesses. Organic reach is down across most of the major social media networks, and the days of you being able to simply post something on social and expect all your followers to see it are well and truly over.

That mindset has been gone for a few years. Now, it’s all about how you target your audience, build customer journeys and get people to your site to make a purchase. Paid social media strategies help with exactly that.

When deciding whether social media advertising is the right for your business, these points will help when you’re debating the pros and cons.

Creating specific social media target audiences

Most social media platforms allow you to target people as broadly or as granularly as you need to, depending on your budget of course. It allows you to craft the right message for the right consumer for your business, at the right stage of the customer journey.

Connecting with people who need your service or product

Simply put, the first step to making a sale for any business is brand awareness. Social advertising optimized for reach allows you to get targeted consumer eyes on your business, campaign or brand. It allows you to remind consumers of their ‘unmet need’ and how you as a business or brand can fulfill that need, and quickly. Be it the latest sports shoes, loungewear at home or new homeware products, everyone has a secret desire and adverts are a great way of enticing a broader audience in.

Numerous formats on numerous platforms

One of the great things about social media is there is something for everyone, and that is no different when considering social media advertising. You can break your audience down by demographic, content consumption, location, device or interests. If you are looking to attract an older consumer you might consider investing in Facebook, and if your content relies on more visual aesthetics then you might choose to utilize Instagram or Pinterest. For a more corporate audience, then your obvious choice is LinkedIn. Whatever your goals, there is likely to be a social media outlet to support them.

Increase lead generation

What matters most to your business – if we’re being totally honest – is revenue. Social media advertising campaigns can help turn engagement into sales for your business. A successful sales channel for many businesses, social media advertising allows you to go to the consumer instead of relying on the consumer to come to you.

Complex and custom retargeting options are available on platforms, allowing you to re-engage audiences who have previously only been top-of-funnel, driving them through to purchase and conversion. A retargeting strategy that is combined with the right copy and creative, supplemented with active community management will be what gets you the most efficient spend of your budget.

ROI for social media advertisement is almost unbeatable

The advertising tools available on platforms provide a level of targeting and personalized creative that can drive a far clearer ROI than that of a traditional media campaign, leading to instant results. Associated costs are also far lower, making driving traffic and purchases quick, easy and affordable for most businesses.

Insights, data and more information

Using social media advertising, you can find audiences you didn’t even know you needed. Some of the most valuable data for your business can come from social media advertising, with many platforms providing demographical data, giving real insight into how your adverts are performing and how they resonate with your target audience.

To find out more about our social media advertising services speak to a member of our team today.

Should I invest in paid social media advertising?

This year’s Love Island premiere episode had over 5 million viewers, which is even higher than last year’s record-setting debut. It’s the conversation of most offices, schools and bars up and down the country. As well as discussions around their relationship drama, naturally, watching these well-groomed contestants day in day out leads to viewers asking themselves the question: ‘how can I get the look?’ Last year, Missguided was Love Island’s sponsor and reportedly achieved a 40% sales increase during the show’s run.

Now it is I Saw It First’s chance to benefit from this reality TV phenomenon. As Love Island is incredibly popular amongst Gen Z and Millennials, social media goes hand-in-hand with the TV show. I Saw It First was a relatively unknown clothing brand before Love Island began in comparison to fashion giant, Missguided and therefore have had to work harder to make a splash with this audience. Their strategy has integrated e-commerce across TV and social media.

As well as adverts for I Saw It First between each segment of the show, the clothing brand has given each ‘islander’ an allowance before entering the villa to purchase clothing to wear on-screen. This allows the contestants to mix and match the items with their own wardrobes, making the gifted outfits more fluid and natural as opposed to the traditional sponsored Instagram posts.

I saw it first 1- Love Island

This strategy also allows the brand to create a relationship with these rising influencers before they hit stardom and gain millions of Instagram followers in a matter of weeks. When the show ends, they will have formed a connection with the I Saw It First clothing and will be more inclined to work with the brand long-term.

Due to live public opinion scrolling on Twitter and the voting mechanic, Love Island viewers are very likely to watch the show whilst holding their smartphone in the hand. There were over 400,000 tweets mentioning Love Island in the first episode alone. I Saw It First feature the Love Island hashtag in their posts to take advantage of this reach.

They have also created the hashtag #ISawIsland which users can use to search all of the outfit posts from the brand and easily find that bikini or dress they have been eyeing up on their TV screen. The brand’s social posts consist of screenshots of the contestants wearing the clothing on their social channels, these images are candid, once again reinforcing this seamless product placement.

I Saw It First has also integrated their product placement into the official Love Island app. When they wish to vote for who they want to save from being dumped from the island they are served with adverts that have direct links to the items featured. This helps to build an association of the two brands, Love Island and I Saw It First come hand-in-hand.

We have all heard the theory that consumers need to see an item around 3 times before purchasing and these methods across different platforms make the clothes appear prominent in a user’s mind.

I saw it first - Love Island 2

This multi-platform, integrated approach to e-commerce is gaining momentum with reality shows, as clothing brand Quiz teamed up with the Only Way Is Essex cast and Never Fully Dressed became Made In Chelsea’s official fashion partner. These shows are influential amongst Gen Z and Millennials, two of the biggest generations in history, who are fashion conscious and very active on social media. The partnerships tap into an audience that multi-task on their phones whilst enjoying these shows.

It also makes purchasing seamless, as the links on social media and in the apps are direct to the products. It is certainly a trend that will continue to grow as reality TV continues to dominate our TV screens and feeds.

Here at PHA, we have set up an array of influencer partnerships for our clients, ensuring that their brand values crossover with that of the influencer, eradicating any doubts of authenticity or trust. Feel free to contact us to discuss how you can start taking advantage of influencers today.

Love Island delivering the goods for I Saw It First

In the past 10 years or so, social media platforms have lacked something we all crave – a chronological feed. This was tested recently by Twitter adding posts liked by friends. Similarly, Instagram’s latest feed change to horizontal scrolling saw arguably the biggest outcry to date. The feature was tested for several months, but users did not take to it well even though we spend more time on horizontal Instagram Stories than our own feeds.

https://twitter.com/JeffreeStar/status/1088155092002336768

Of course, a lot of social is in the moment, and reactive! We could not have appreciated the random and hilarious reimagining’s of the Instagram Egg if the campaign wasn’t executed as the conversation was happening. This also stops our need for traditional news outlets – why do we need a glossy magazine when brands can update us about Gemma Collins latest drama so much better? Our lives are time sensitive and we like to see moments as and when they happen.

Yet, so much on social is timeless. Many posts focus on wider themes and are not strictly time-sensitive. Are you aware of what tweets you engage with, and which you scroll by? Regardless of what you may think you want to engage with, feeds react individually to you – how often you use the platform, how many people you follow etc. 59% of users have even admitted to sharing articles they haven’t read. The content you engage with isn’t necessarily related to, today! Social should always be a mini-escape from our lives but you need to make it work for you. Our tip is every so often slow down and read every single post in your feed. One of two things will happen – you will either discover something new, or you’ll unfollow. Either way, you win – as you’re making the algorithm work for you.

“Our tip is every so often, slow down and read every single post in your feed. One of two things will happen – you will either discover something new, or you’ll unfollow. Either way, you’ll win.”

Social platforms in their short lives have already changed many times. The like button first appeared in 2009 (now that’s a #10YearChallenge), and the new Facebook Marketplace may feel invasive but could revolutionise the way we sell items. These changes certainly aren’t slowing down, and Twitter’s announcement of a beta app for new features promises to bring consumers along for the ride.

Design changes should be fun! Embrace them and discover a whole new world of engagement that’s personal to you.

View this post on Instagram

Omggggggg WHYYYYYY do I have 5 day old posts popping up in my feed?? And where are all my favorite letterers, designers? @instagram get your shit together and give us back the #chronological feed!!! Please. And thank you. _____________________________________ #letterer #handlettering #handlettered #tyxca #typetopia #letteringvideo #brushlettering #letteringco #madebyhand #brushtype #thedailytype #goodtype #letters #instagramfeed #alphabet #alfabet #blackandwhite #illustration #chronologicalorder

A post shared by Karin (@karincreative) on

If you need help with your social media as an individual or business, PHA Social can offer bespoke and expert advice.

Social platform changes are for your own good, you just don’t know it yet!  

Yes – the headline is true, at least if your contract says so. Influencers are becoming increasingly valuable to businesses and Luka Sabbat, actor (and Kourtney Kardashian’s casual beau), learnt the hard way that an influencer contract is just the same as any other business contract as he is now being sued for $90,000, in the first high-profile case of its kind.

Sabbat was paid $45,000 by Snapchat’s PR agency (PRC) to promote Snap Spectacles; it was agreed that he would wear the glasses to Fashion Week twice and post three Instagram stories and one post for his 1.4 million followers to see. He also had to submit the posts to the PR agency for sign off and provide analytics of the post within 24 hours of posting. Once this was all completed, he would be given another $15,000 which would accumulate this contract to a value of $60,000.

Luka Sabbat only posted one story and post, furthermore, he failed to ask for approval from the agency or provide any analytics. This, of course, is a breach of contract and now the PR agency is asking for the fee they paid upfront, as well as $45,000 in damages.

PHA Social’s Senior Social Media Director, Hayley Coleby, highlighted the case as one to watch;

“It will be interesting to see if this case results in any changes to the usual protocol. Some publications have named the case as trivial, but when a business has sacrificed thousands of dollars, entered into a service level agreement and experienced a loss of expected sales, it is serious. It should make agencies more cautious when paying influencers upfront, but we will wait and see.”

This case has highlighted the importance of managing every interaction with influencers and choosing the right person is vital. Here at PHA we research and source the right influencer for your business and draw up a clear, concise contract that each party is happy with. If you need assistance managing your influencer strategy or would like to introduce an influencer to your business but you are unsure who or how, we are here to help.

Here at PHA, we have set up an array of influencer partnerships for our clients, ensuring that their brand values crossover with that of the influencer, eradicating any doubts of authenticity or trust. Feel free to contact us to discuss how you can start taking advantage of influencers today.

You can now be sued for not wearing sunglasses

Kim Kardashian has been named the most dangerous celebrity on the internet according to McAfee, the cyber-security company, because when searching for the unofficial-queen-of-Instagram’s name, you are most at risk of accessing computer viruses.

Top 5 Most Virus-Filled Celebrities in the UK:

  1. Kim Kardashian
  2. Naomi Campbell
  3. Kourtney Kardashian
  4. Adele
  5. Caroline Flack

Other mentions also went to Kem Cetinay and Ferne McCann; this list may seem random but cybercriminals use popular celebrities to trick consumers into clicking onto malicious sites in order to steal passwords and personal information.

If even the most sophisticated of criminals are interested in influencers, you should be too, but for non-incriminating reasons. Influencers are of course amazing for business and choosing the right one for your business is vital.

MarketingLand reported in 2017 that only 52% of global respondents trust businesses, which is why businesses need influencers to be the human-billboard but don’t be fooled into thinking that anyone with a large following on social media will do.

You are sure to have noticed that reality stars are gaining massive success, with the term celebrity expanding to refer to anyone who has appeared on our screens. Naturally, these stars use their platform to earn money from the most random collaborations, but consumers are much savvier than before. Love Island contestants advertising teeth whitening just doesn’t cut it anymore; people are craving authenticity which means your influencer needs to reflect your brand and generate content that is in-tune with your business ethos and relatable to your target customer.

Funds may be a concern for some smaller businesses when it comes to approaching an influencer, but they are an investment. Influencers do not need to have millions of followers to tune into a large audience either; micro-influencers can be just as useful. Medium have even reported that micro-influencers are 60% more effective than influencers with millions of followers because they are more relatable and give that authenticity and credibility that consumers are desperate for.

Here at PHA, we have set up an array of influencer partnerships for our clients, ensuring that their brand values crossover with that of the influencer, eradicating any doubts of authenticity or trust. Feel free to contact us to discuss how you can start taking advantage of influencers today.

Kim Kardashian: The world’s most deadly influencer?

With over 1.6 BILLION views on Youtube and 88,000 #babysharkchallenge mentions on Instagram, if you haven’t heard of the Baby Shark song, where have you been? When educational Youtube Channel, Pinkfong, uploaded this simple and catchy children’s song about a family of sharks, it is unlikely they knew it would become such a viral phenomenon.

Image credit: PinkFong

The repetitive ‘do do do do’ lyrics were annoying parents across the globe and as the famous saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. Adults were forced to join in on the fun; luckily the dance moves are very simple to follow, so even dads can join in on the ‘Baby Shark Challenge’.

Some consumers have even made a hybrid post which combines both the ‘Baby Shark Challenge’ and the ‘In My Feelings Challenge’. The later involves jumping out of a (slowly) moving car and dancing to Drake’s single In My Feelings; to combine the two you may jump out of your car and dance to Baby Shark do do do do do, instead. These two trends appeared at around the same time, which is why they seem to have merged. Music and video make an excellent combination and I think we should all be thankful that social media was not so influential in 2003 when Crazy Frog was released!

You may be asking yourself, ‘why is this so popular?’ but this is not important when it comes to responding to a viral trend. Whether you find this song annoying or endearing, you should be asking ‘how can I be a part of this?’. This trend is a perfect example of what a powerful asset video is on social media. According to Hubspot, 54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from brands and the 2018 Sprout Social Index tells us that 71% of social media users watch videos online to laugh. Knowing that most of these videos are recorded on a mobile phone and made within a few minutes also demonstrates that video content does not need to be expensive, especially not when responding to a micro-trend such as this one.

Originality is always key to make your video stand out amongst the crowd, make sure your brand has their own spin on the concept. Some people have got their cats dancing along, others have even got tattoos dedicated to the trend! If you are not willing to make such a physical commitment or you do not own a cat and you are unsure of how your brand can respond to trends our social media or influencer marketing services could be a great help to you! Contact us today to find out more.

What to do do do about this Baby Shark trend

In today’s digital-driven world, consumers are turning towards one another to ensure the product or service they want to purchase is the right one for them. Engaging with key influencers for a brand is crucial part of their communications strategy. No longer can we afford to think of influencer marketing as a novel strategy, by the year 2020 influencer marketing global spend is set to become a billion-dollar industry.

Parenting and family blogs have become increasingly popular in 2017 with 29% of UK blogs referring to family matters compared to 16% in 2016. At The PHA Group, we looked at the reason parenting bloggers are on the rise and how they can help you drive sales and engagement for your brand.

The fashion or lifestyle blogger who becomes a parent

A lot of new family bloggers were already established in other fields before their parenthood journey began which often helped kickstart their new focus for their account, taking their following on their parenting journey.

Fleur de Force

Fleur de Force, UK based Lifestyle blogger who has an impressive 826K followers is no exception. She recently had a baby girl and even if she’s not calling herself a parent blogger she’s sharing her journey as an influencer. Fleur also collaborates with multiple baby brands sharing her feelings on parenting. An example, she produced a personal piece for My1styears where she gives her honest view on giving birth and how she adjusted to her new life. A refreshing article that shows the struggles of parenthood like other mothers. Fleur de Force has found the right balance between her lifestyle and baby content sharing baby looks as well as her own on Instagram. Keep doing you Fleur!

The one on Maternity Leave

honest mum

Honest Mum’s owner Vicky started her blog while on maternity leave after she was suffering from a traumatic birth and desperately needed to rediscover her voice and identity. Honest Mum is an award-winning blog that discusses a wide range of topics from food & drink, lifestyle or how to become a #mumboss. On starting her blog, Vicky said: “Becoming a professional blogger and vlogger is a stimulating, empowering and rewarding way to work around a family and has frankly, changed my life.” Vicky is a parenting expert and is often seen in the media talking about her family, so her blog is always full of insights that will help new-parents to adapt to their new life.

 A man’s view on pregnancy and parenthood

You the daddy

Giles, a London based blogger, founded You The Daddy; a blog discussing a guy’s perspective on pregnancy, babies and parenthood. Dad’s blogs usually tend to cover a wide variety of subjects, but they aren’t so different from their mommy blog counterparts — there’s ample discussion about the best baby formula, advice for school assignments, a little bit of frustration-venting and more than a few adorable family photos. In his blog, Giles takes a completely different angle and help dads understand what’s going on with their wife during this transition period. From creating a men’s pregnancy calendar to dad’s best jokes, Giles’ blog will make any pregnant parents smile and bond with each other. But You The Daddy is not only about jokes, it also covers some societal issues such as miscarriages or pregnancy mood swings. You The Daddy is a clever blog aim for both mums and dads we’d highly recommend checking out.

The mum with a story:

Finally, some mums decide to start a blog because they need to find answers to a parenting problem!

More than toast

It’s the case for More Than Toast which doesn’t focus on food as much as the name suggests. It has literally nothing to do with toast, as Alice the founder puts it. Alice is a UK single mum of two and besides her posts on yes food, interiors, travel, and beauty, that is what sets her website apart. Alice writes about dating and motherhood as a single mum, how to introduce your kids to your boyfriend and about love in general, she also wrote about her post-natal depression. More than that, you can find advice on work on her blog, as well as motivational posts. This blog is perfect for anyone who is searching for an open book like Alice and wants to learn from her multi-faceted life experience.

If you’re looking to use influencers in your next campaign, speak to a member of our award-winning public relations team today to find out how we can help you hone your communications strategy and increase your engagement with your desired audience.

The top 4 family influencers to watch

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s Pride month, and it culminates in London this Saturday with the Pride in London Parade. Thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals and allies will congregate to celebrate, laugh, love, be proud of who they are, and how far society has come. Of course, there’s still a huge amount of work to be done, especially in terms of intersectional representation and equality, and society’s treatment and understanding of non-binary and trans individuals.

As with so much online activism today, it is largely led by the ‘millennial’ and ‘Gen Z’ generations, who use social media to tell their story, and spread their message in a way that is engaging and thought-provoking.

There are those who shout from the rooftops, powerfully arguing the importance of LGBTQ+ rights, understanding and pride, and there are those who integrate it seamlessly into their work and content. Together, these have the dual effect of normalising and creating a genuine understanding for people to work from. The teaching begins on social, and spreads out through society. We’ve taken this opportunity to highlight some of the voices online doing brilliant work for the LGBTQ+ community!

  1. @makedaisychains – Hannah Daisy is an artist, illustrator and mental health activist who creates beautiful and colourful content to portray the importance of various ideas and movements. Her work ranges from the topics of ‘boring self-care’, to sexual violence and body positivity.

Happy Pride season. Here are some cats to explain the various flags.

  1. @riyadhk – Riyadh Khalaf is a delightfully frank and funny blogger, writer and documentary filmmaker. Host of BBC1 Podcast ‘Unexpected Fluids’, he’s definitely one to follow for an honest discussion and an interesting take on how LGBTQ+ activism fits into daily life.

Feeling grateful in the Cannes sun! Getting to travel with my work while spreading understanding about the people I care about most is a blessing. Today I spoke on the #GoogleBeach stage about the key LGBTQ+ moments that have shaped the year. We discussed how brands and marketing teams around the world can support the queer community in an ongoing, constructive way. Now to party with pals as the sun sets

  1. @travisalabanza – Travis is a London based performer, writer and artist. Their unique style and expression has made them a leading voice in the London scene, embracing everything that is so often forgotten or pushed to one side in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. They speak fluently and openly on the importance of remembering those ‘weirdos’ and individuals who represent the fluidity and diversity of pride. They’re also really well dressed.

Between them they have performed crazy football tricks all over the world and have worked with some of the biggest brands from around the globe. As the world temporarily comes to a standstill with every newspaper, tweet and news bulletin focusing on the World Cup in Russia, in honour of the tricks, flicks and great goals we’ve seen so far, it’s time to take a step back and celebrate some of the world’s best football freestylers.

The F2

YouTube – 7.7 million subscribers

Facebook – 3.2million likes

Instagram – 5million followers

Twitter – 350k followers

They call themselves ‘Global Social Influencers’ and with 7.7million subscribers on their YouTube channel with their videos regularly attracting over 1 million views, it’s clear they are doing something right.

Billy was the first football freestyler to be signed by a professional club (Tottenham Hotspur) and his highlights include performing at the World Cup Final in 2006. Jeremy meanwhile was first thrust into the spotlight after appearing on Britain’s Got Talent.

After performing at the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony, the pair decided to join forces together as a double act known as the F2Freestylers. With big sponsorship deals with the likes of Adidas, Konami and Beko, the F2 Freestylers are on a journey to discover the best “tekkers” the world has to offer. F2 Finding Football is a YouTube travel series that features impressive freestyle soccer stunts performed in various nations across the globe.

DC Freestyle

YouTube – 461k subscribers

Facebook – 56,000 likes

Instagram – 554k followers

Twitter – 18k followers

Daniel Cutting has been working as a full-time Football Freestyler for the last 10 years, since graduating from University. His skills have taken him to over 20 countries and allowed him to work alongside some of the world’s biggest brands including Coca-Cola, Adidas, Pepsi, UEFA, Puma and BMW. He holds five world records including the most consecutive face rolls (controlling the ball and rolling it from temple to temple) of which Daniel did a staggering 1,810, smashing the previous record by over three times the amount!

Woody and Kleiny

YouTube – 165k subscribers

Facebook – 1.1 million likes

Instagram – 1.6 million followers

Twitter – 3.6k followers

Woody & Kleiny are two life-long friends with a passion for creating entertaining video content for a millennial audience. The pair started out as football freestylers entering a Nike freestyle competition where they beat 2,000 other acts to make it to the semi-finals. After collaborating with mobile phone company Orange, performing in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley, the success of the pair has continued to snowball. The pair have performed across the world for all sorts of events and brands including the likes of Nike, Adidas, Powerade, Tesco, Phones 4u Mc Donald’s and Coca-Cola.

They have since found a niche market, where they create social experiments, stereotype videos, sketches, pranks, all while developing an engaged community of fans. Now successful YouTube presenters their videos attract over one million views.

Andrew Henderson

YouTube – 126k subscribers

Facebook – 134k likes

Instagram – 476k followers

Twitter – 13.8k followers

After recovering from a horrific leg break which threatened to curtail his dream, Andrew is a five-time world football freestyle champion and the UK Freestyle football champion for eight years running. Some of his highlights include collaborations with Neymar, Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Usain Bolt.

Liv Cooke

YouTube- 3.3k subscribers

Facebook- 127k likes

Instagram- 160k followers

Twitter- 68k followers

When she burst onto the scene Liv Cooke became the UK’s first professional female football freestyler. She started building her social media platform while she was at school, filming clips of freestyles and uploading it, slowly but surely, she grew an impressive fan base and had the support she needed to pursue her passion.  She is now reigning Freestyle Football World Champion. She recently got invited to perform in Qatar’s national sports day in which she was the main entertainment act for the day. Moreover, she starred in the Chanel 4 Women’s Euro 2017 TV ad in which she showcased her impressive skills.

The growing popularity of football freestylers has been driven by the rise of social media, allowing players to share content all around the world, especially amongst the younger audience. Given the shareable nature of the content, social media promotes “freestyle” well and has breed new life in the sport. Without it, it’s hard to imagine where the above names would be now.

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The football freestylers who became big thanks to social media