Dallas Startup Haul Links Retailers to YouTube Marketers

8/15/13Follow @angelashah

Celebrity endorsements are a tried-and-true method for brands to get exposure. But, thanks to technology, even everyday Joes and Janes can become important ambassadors to retailers, and get paid to do it.

This marketing force is known as “haulers,” named for the shopping hauls that they show off on homemade YouTube videos. The queen bees of this set are two Tennessee sisters, Elle and Blair Fowler, who have turned their small-screen debuts into lucrative endorsement contracts, a book deal, and a signature makeup line.

Their success got Alexander Muse thinking of all of the other haulers—teenage girls, sports enthusiasts, amateur cooks—who have filled up bandwidth talking up their favorite new outfits, gear, or molecular gastronomy vacuum.

The longtime Dallas entrepreneur has founded a number of mobile and video startups, and the hauler phenomenon got him wondering about how well these haulers were doing in terms of their own profitability—and whether retailers and brands had tapped into these potential marketers.

“The top 150 haulers get 4 billion viewers but almost no money,” Muse says. “What if we could create a marketplace to enable the next several thousand haulers to succeed monetarily, to deal with advertisers, retailers, and brands?”

So began Haul, a sort of talent management agency that connects haulers, advertisers, and retailers in an online marketplace.

His Dallas startup launched in January with Muse and his co-founder, Robert Bennett. The company was accepted into the Venture Spur program in Dallas earlier this year and now employs seven. Muse says the startup plans to close on less than $1 million in funding from angel investors in Dallas and San Francisco by the end of the month.

Haul is one of three Dallas startups that have been invited to make their pitches at the Grow Conference in Vancouver today. We first met Muse and Haul last month when the startup became the first tenant in the Dallas Entrepreneurs Center, a new co-working/incubator.

Teenagers have been posting on YouTube since the channel’s debut on the Web, but it’s only been in recent years that retailers began to see the value in these unofficial advertisements. During the last economic recession, as companies slashed … Next Page »

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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