INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
MagicLinks CEO and Co-founder Brian Nickerson Shares with Us How the Startup is Elevating the Heart Centered Storytellers of Today
First of all, how are you and your family doing during these COVID-19 times?
Brian Nickerson: We are fortunate to be safe, healthy, and fully engaged at this moment to create lasting change.
Tell us a little about yourself, your career, and how you founded MagicLinks.
Brian Nickerson: I created a diverse set of experiences early in my career, including running a shift at a stop sign manufacturing plant at Avery Dennison, running financial models for product launches in the search auction marketplace at Yahoo!, and playing 3B in the minor leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I then built the shopping division at Internet Brands, growing from myself to 100 employees and leading more than 25% of a public company’s profitability in 3 short years. These experiences gave me the sea legs to embark upon my own entrepreneurial journey with MagicLinks. I’m passionate about creating and inspiring change in the world, and MagicLinks provides a platform for our incredible team to do just that.
In your words, how does MagicLinks innovate?
Brian Nickerson: Innovation is the lifeblood of our company. As our core partnerships connect influencers and brands within the fast-moving, highly innovative social video space, our very existence is predicated on our ability to innovate. We create quarterly “baby unicorn” projects, which are new, high-potential ideas that we believe will create value for our influencer and brand partners. We assign cross-functional teams to bring these “baby unicorn” ideas to life in a fast and iterative cycle that relies heavily on market feedback. We have also built a culture that actively celebrates failure; as we know, this is the core of encouraging risk-taking and learning from our collective efforts regardless of the outcome.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
Brian Nickerson: I see COVID-19 as a collective call to action to create a new, more aligned, and connected world. Like everyone, we face new challenges related to health and safety, shared responsibilities and commitments, and working from home, all in addition to fast-shifting dynamics in consumer, brand, and creator behavior. Our response has been to accelerate our innovation efforts. We recently launched our latest retail tool, Text2Shop™, which provides fans with direct access to shop their favorite influencers’ social content through a single text message, particularly on video platforms such as YouTube and TikTok as well as on Instagram, including its Stories, TV, and Reels features. With the explosion in popularity of TikTok, specifically, Text2Shop™ provides a deep connection between creator and fan to take specific actions on a platform where link-sharing content has been more difficult.
Has 2020 inspired any changes at MagicLinks?
Brian Nickerson: The accelerating change in our society related to COVID-19, systemic racism in the United States and desire for change led by the Black Lives Matter movement, and some of the worst California wildfires in the last 100 years, have helped us step forward more publicly in our company values. Efforts that previously have not been discussed publicly are now at the core of what we do. This includes our Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion team, which launched MagicLinks’ first ever Instagram Live series #TeaTime. This series is dedicated to learning directly from Black leaders in the influencer and brand community in a committed effort to help evoke positive and real systemic change in our industry. We’ve also launched a Sustainability Ratings system, which provides transparency for both creators and consumers into the environmental practices of the worlds’ top 1000 retailers in an effort to help spur conversation and change.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Brian Nickerson: Exercise, sleep, and meditation are powerful tools to help deal with stress. At MagicLinks, we start our weekly all-hands team meetings with a 1 Word Open, where each team member shares how they feel in a single word. This helps us create connections through our individual voices and a shared sense of where people are in that immediate moment. We then set a team intention and follow that up with a 3-minute meditation to drop in together – all before any conversation about our teams and overall business even begins.
How does MagicLinks stay ahead of the competition?
Brian Nickerson: We spend a lot of time and energy finding great people to join our team, who lead with integrity from a heart centered space. Great people and culture create incredible win-win experiences for both our influencers and brand partners. We consistently work to innovate in our product and service offerings and in our clear values and the context from which we create. Our Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion team and Sustainability team are challenged to lead our industry in terms of how we create meaningful, lasting, and systemic change to systemic challenges inherent in the retail eCommerce space.
Your final thoughts?
Brian Nickerson: Storytelling is the heart of the human experience, and what started around campfires under the stars now occurs on a digital device from our homes. Fundamentally our question is – what are the stories we want to support, and what are the actions we want to inspire? For MagicLinks, the answers to these questions are constantly unfolding, and our focus is on elevating the heart-centered storytellers of today.
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