Home Articles This start-up co-founded by a former Australian rugby international is linking tech...

This start-up co-founded by a former Australian rugby international is linking tech with social media talent


Based on the oldest and most effective marketing form – word of mouth, influencer marketing is the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, outpacing organic search and email marketing. A recent US study shows that businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.

Start-up influencer agency HooZu is now rolling out technology to identify the most influential social media players in Australia.

“The phenomenal growth of influencer marketers on social media has been hindered to date as there has been little or no way to profile, identify and measure how effective they are,” HooZu CEO Nathan Ruff remarked.

“Brands have to spend a lot of time and money trying to determine the best-suited talent for their campaigns. Till now there has been no data driven profiling tool that sources influencers from the whole web, so guess work still plays a part when they are allocating thousands of dollars of campaign spend.”

Nathan says HooZu has now put in place technology to identify which influencers are best connected with a brand and to measure in real time their impact on driving sales or awareness.

“A database of influencers or an app that works on one social media platform only takes you so far. HooZu offers a full enterprise solution that tracks and profiles influencers across multiple social networks based on conversations they are having with their fans and the relevancy of their social following.”

How exactly does HooZu work?

“HooZu is an influencer agency led by technology that connects brands to fans, via influencers on social media. We use tech to identify influencers that are the best fit for advertisers campaigns and objectives from the whole of the social web (not from a single database),” Nathan explained.

“When our clients approve their influencer list, HooZu manages all the aspects of delivery and reporting through a centralised platform. Being an agency we offer full strategic services and solutions to our clients to increase engagements, performance and conversions.”

He highlighted that HooZu’s technology would deliver brands some surprises about exactly who the biggest social media influencers in Australia were.

“With most of our recent campaigns, we’ve identified some lesser known influencers that have driven far more engagement and higher performance for far cheaper pricing, than more well-known ‘A-grade’ social celebrities.”

Nathan said HooZu was sharing its initial insights into Australia’s most effective influencers with agencies and clients, with an overall ranking table under development.

“When it came to building our HooZu team we took a Ferris Buller approach – sporting jocks, tech nerds, advertising and digital dweebs – to ensure that from brands to influencers we provide the best outcomes.”

What is the story behind HooZu?

HooZu was co-founded by former Australian rugby international Lote Tuqiri, who saw the influence teammates were having through their individual social media channels.

“Lote saw the evolution of the influencer power and witnessed the
damage that can happen when brands and influencers are matched incorrectly. Both he and co-founder Justin Golledge have been big advocates in driving functionality around our technology,” said Nathan. “That’s why HooZu is very much about tech meeting talent.”

Nathan went on to reveal, in the interview with Anthill below, that HooZu is self-funded to date. “We are supported by a number of private investors who see the growth in this space.”

HooZu co-founders Justin Gollege, LoteTuqiri and Nathan Ruff
HooZu co-founders: (L-R) Justin Gollege, LoteTuqiri and Nathan Ruff

What inspired you, Justin and Lote to start HooZu? How did the three of you meet to do this?

“Lote was on the bus with his team mates in his last year of playing professionally. All the boys were comparing social media followings and he realised collectively they had 10 times more audience than any TV network.

“The light bulb moment came that there is a lot of concentrated power they had now leveraging social media, compared to the start of his career when he was gifted a pair of football boots and told to wear them everywhere as a way of promoting the product.

“Lote and I have been mates for 12 years meeting at our kids day care centre. We always wanted to do something together when he finished playing.

“Justin (Gollege) and I had originally met when I was heading a previous digital media company. Justin had been running a digital consulting business and was getting a lot of enquires from brands about influencer marketing. The three of us met up for a coffee, and nine lattes later HooZu was born.”

What sets you apart from your competitors in this influencer marketing niche, like say Jules Lund’s TRIBE?

“We don’t think influencer marketing will be a niche for long. What sets us apart is firstly that we don’t focus on one platform of the social web such as Instagram.

“Secondly, that we have a diverse team with backgrounds in advertising, digital, technology and in Lote someone who can work with and mentor influencers.

“Thirdly technology. TRIBE is a mobile app, HooZu is an agency that uses enterprise grade technology service across discovery, management and reporting. We track key influencers who are already talking about the brand, the competition or the category and engage them, mange them and track and report on them. This is a scalable platform that enables us to run multiple campaigns, with many influencers at once.”