Why Shine Talent Group has grown into a tech vendor

Influencer talent management agency Shine Talent Group has launched a new unit designed to help other businesses manage their talent in the fast-moving, and fast-growing, world of influencer marketing.

Originally developed as a technology solution to manage their own growth, Shine has spun off The Thread as a software tool to help other agencies manage their talent roster more efficiently.

In 2016, a year after Emily Ward and Jess Hunichen launched Shine Talent Group in Toronto, the influencer industry was worth about $1.7 billion. Last year it reached $16.4 billion and was projected to grow by another $5 billion this year. In that time Shine has expanded to offices in London, Los Angeles and New York City.

Earlier this year the agency launched Shine Ventures, an angel investment fund that invests in early-stage start-ups with strong digital engagement that are building technology for the creator economy, as well as the women’s health space.Why Shine Talent Group has grown into a tech vendorWhy Shine Talent Group has grown into a tech vendor

The Thread is Shine Ventures’ second investment after “norm.” a platform that helps influencers scale their revenues. The Thread operates with a set of features designed to support talent management and agency ownership, from client onboarding, roster overviews, campaign tracking, growth tracking, resource tracking, and invoicing/bookkeeping.

The platform also features a fully integrated system that internal staff as well as talent can access.

Shine developed the tool after the team realized that while there were many tools targeting the talent or brand side of the business, there wasn’t a project management tool built specifically for a talent manager, so they developed their own.

“We would not have been able to manage the volume [of our growth] without a consolidation tool like The Thread, which has made it easy to identify both growth opportunities and pain points for our team,” said co-founder Emily Ward. The agency directly credits the tool with its reduction to a four-day work week in 2023, without sacrificing the volume of growth of previous years.

“When we recognized a broader need in the marketplace for a tool like The Thread, we wanted to offer licensing rights to our peer agencies,” explained Ward. “The company was set up as a separate entity with a separate team in order to maintain confidentiality [and] Shine Talent Group essentially became the first customer of the business.”

“We have always operated in the spirit of collaboration and sharing best practices,” said co-founder Jess Hunichen. “Licensing The Thread is no different than our typical way of business. There is a gap in the industry, Shine has benefited from using the platform and we hope others using it as well will aid in the industry being stronger as a whole.”

One of the industry’s greatest challenges today is the labour-intensive nature of much of the work.“The majority of a talent manager’s time is spent keeping things organized, staying on top of it and working under an outdated spreadsheet system that doesn’t move as fast as they do,” she said. “Talent managers spend little time managing, spotting opportunities and building relationships and most of their time in an endless cycle of inputting, updating, double checking and correcting.”

By simplifying these processes, The Thread allows users to comprehensively look at all aspects of a campaign through a responsive dashboard, calendar and roster view. Within the platform, talent managers can easily track and search all details of a project, while also receiving notifications.

Consolidating these efforts into one tool enables users to respond proactively and turnaround projects quicker, said Hunichen. “For team members it’s an efficiency tool, but for owners The Thread is a company growth accelerator.”

Pricing for the tool flexes depending on company size, starting at $850/ month USD for companies with one to three employees and scaling up to $10,000/ month USD for enterprise clients with more than 40 users.

Emma Johnston-Wheeler