We recently sat down with President and Co-Founder of AMIBA Consulting, Mo Mostashari, to discuss how he is changing the way brands leverage celebrity partnerships. Mo has had an impressive career, including spending a decade at the talent agency powerhouse, ICM Partners. During his time with ICM he focused on endorsement and appearance deals for celebrities and influencers such as Megan Fox, David Duchovny, Ian Somerhalder, Lucy Hale, Katie Holmes, Pete Davidson, and many others. Now, he has developed a unique strategy at AMIBA Consulting partnering startups and established brands with actors, musicians, influencers, and athletes to help promote their products and services with an emphasis on brand growth.
Mo has built impressive relationships with celebrities and brands alike giving him an edge in the industry. Sitting on the boards of FLORENCE BY MILLS by Millie Bobby Brown and TBH (To Be Honest) by Noah Schnapp and also having done the partnerships deals for Kerry Washington and BYTE, which sold for $1.04B to Dentsply, Olivia Culpo and VIDE, Randi Zuckerberg and REPUBLIC, as well as launching ROUNDHOUSE PROVISIONS by Chuck Norris, BADLANDS RANCH by Katherine Heigl, PACKED BOWLS by Wiz Khalifa, and TENDERFIX by Noah Schnapp, Mo Mostashari has made a name for himself in the niche space of celebrity brand partnerships.
What was it that made you realize you could create a business niche out of partnering brands with celebrities on an ownership equity basis?
Collaborations between celebrities and brands in marketing have been a longstanding practice, yet what caught my attention was the emergence of a unique avenue for startups to extend equity as a form of partnership, as opposed to the conventional method of paid endorsement agreements. This brings a new life to a collaboration because both parties have mutual interest in its success. Talent engages in extensive discussions with companies to ensure excitement about the product prior to committing. This strategic approach not only strengthens the partnership but transforms it from a mere transaction into a meaningful alliance.
What is the biggest key to making the right partnership between brand and talent?
It’s crucial that both parties see eye to eye on the brand’s values and requirements. When talent represents your company, it’s vital to ensure an organic fit rather than appearing as a money grab. Furthermore, it is paramount for the celebrity to comprehend that they need to exceed the contractual obligations to ensure the success of their brand. Merely fulfilling the minimum requirements in an ownership deal won’t suffice, which is why the introductory period between talent and the founders holds significant importance.
How did your time at ICM influence the way you run your business today?
My time as an agent allowed me to truly understand how to manage talent, how they think and what is important to them. Learning the ins and outs of approaching, handling, and collaborating closely with celebrities has equipped me with the skills to broker and negotiate deals for my brand clients. I am well-versed in the desires and demands of talent agents and managers, enabling me to determine fair agreements that lead to successful outcomes. It is my responsibility to ensure that both parties are happy with the deal, which increases the likelihood of success.
Where do you plan to take your business in the next 5 years? Do you want to expand or stay boutique in size?
Generally, I’d prefer to maintain AMIBA as a boutique agency, while also selectively onboarding a few new brand clients each year. I always strive to be hands-on, working closely with my clients on an individual basis, and keeping the agency at a smaller scale allows me to do so. Additionally, my aspiration for the next five years is to have another brand acquisition.
What’s the first step in building the partnership between celebrity and start-up? How does that introduction usually go?
A significant amount of research is conducted before approaching talent on behalf of a brand. Ensuring that both parties are an organic fit, share similar values, and are ready to invest in the partnership is of utmost importance. After that, an initial introduction takes place, followed by extensive negotiations and meetings. These partnerships go beyond contractual agreements; they represent a meeting of the minds and, in many instances, a shared passion.
You work in industries like food and beverage, beauty, supplements, pet, and even survival kits. How do you balance the intricacies of such a vast brand/product base?
The great thing is, I collaborate with truly remarkable operators across all the brands I work with. This allows me to understand the complexities of both operations and marketing, which I find both fascinating and informative. I always find it exciting to learn something new and experience personal growth. I make it a priority to familiarize myself with the intricacies of each side involved in every negotiation, comprehending both the company and the talent on a deeper level. This enables me to deliver optimal results for them. That’s another thing about owning a boutique agency, I can work with individuals and brands that genuinely excite me and that really is the dream, isn’t it?
Who is a dream celebrity you’d love to work that you have not yet?
Going short answer on this one, Ryan Reynolds.
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