With a father in entertainment and mother in advertising, a career in media came natural to Lujza Bubanova. While she started out her career as a professional golfer, a spinal injury propelled her to go to San Francisco, get her masters in digital marketing, and jump into the tech industry. With a foot deep in Silicon Valley and a lifetime knowledge of media, it wasn’t a surprise that Bubanova would soon become the cofounder of two tech companies, the latest being youfirst which launched at this years SXSW. Youfirst uses artificial intelligence to allow influencers to test content based on emotional response and viral potential before they even upload it. Given that hundreds of companies have pulled their advertising from YouTube after their content was attached to controversial videos, youfirst has the potential to transform the way advertisers and influencers do business with one another forever.
The inspiration to start youfirst came out of what was a normal weekend for Bubanova. She was helping run a few events at a startup weekend in Slovakia, which also included a hackathon. At the hackathon, there was a team there programming an algorithm that learned over 100 years of research on human emotion. This algorithm immediately caught Bubanova’s eye because “emotions are an universal language. It doesn’t change through gender, race, or age. Every smile all around the world means the same smile.” She immediately began to meet with this team regularly after the hackathon and after finding an investor and CEO, she cofounded youfirst with herself as CSO of the company.
Youfirst is focused on targeting influencers because “it’s still a jungle that is transforming into an industry” and Bubanova wants youfirst to be the first company in that market when it comes to pre testing tools. The competition to become a major YouTube influencer is fierce with thousands of video creators fighting their way up to get as many subscribers as possible. However, given that viewers only has a limited time that they can devote to watching YouTube videos, the video has to be incredible engaging in order to get views. By allowing influencers to pretest their videos, they can release videos with the highest chance of success in getting views and ultimately subscribers.
Youfirst comes at a time when YouTube is facing a crises after more than 250 companies including some of the top advertisers in the country like Verizon, Wal-Mart, and Johnson & Johnson have pulled advertising from YouTube. This boycott, which could result in a $750 million loss in revenue for YouTube, comes after accusations that the video streaming service is allowing advertisements to appear next to controversial content. Now more than ever, before brands are willing to spend their money on an influencer, they want to make sure that the influencer will not damage their brand. Youfirst will help mitigate brand’s risk when they put their brand with a piece of content by being able to have hard data showing that the content their advertising on has potential to be successful and doesn’t result in unwanted emotions from the viewer. According to Bubanova, this data more credibility and comfort behind collaborations with influencers. It doesn’t matter whether a brand executive can’t understand why people are watching those YouTube videos, they will know from the data that the video that their brand is in will be engaging and has the potential to get millions of views.
With two tech companies under her belt, Bubanova doesn’t look like she’s going to slow down anytime soon. To her, being a businesswoman and tech entrepreneur takes just as much endurance and training as her former career as a pro-golfer. “Business if like athletics itself… it gives you some kind of attitude where you just really need to push hard and you basically learn that unless you train, which in business means that you try and go outside of your comfort zone, you’re never going to get it.”
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