In 2009, Nick Shah launched his entrepreneurial career in co-founding Ampush, a performance marketing agency for the direct-to-consumer industry. As the business succeeded and scaled, the company recognized the increasing importance of authentic content for brands and acquired My Subscription Addiction, a leading reviews site for DTC subscriptions.
Soon, Shah hit several bumps in the road. The My Subscription Addiction business struggled with founder departure and a declining interest in legacy subscription box brands, leading to revenue declining more than 70 percent from 2018 to 2021.
And so, at the end of 2021, Shah pivoted. The company began licensing its social handles and review articles to brands (whitelisting) in order to save the business, and within 90 days, it had $1 million in run-rate revenue for the new business line, growing 20 percent month over month. This ultimately gave rise to a spin-out of the business and the creation of GrapevineAI, an on-demand performance content platform that helps growth marketers source creator content at scale.
SOCIAL AT SCALE
GrapevineAI’s platform delivers whitelisted social campaigns at scale. The company’s technology connects consumer brands with content creators on various social platforms, including TikTok and Meta.
As CEO of GrapevineAI, Shah is building upon his entrepreneurial beginnings and lessons learned. He strives to cultivate a workplace in which playfulness and collaboration define the daily grind.
“We strive to create an inclusive environment for people to bring their whole selves to work, but also encourage them to strive for their personal best,” Shah said. “This makes the workplace fun and human, but also productive and focused.”
Earlier this year, the company launched the newest version of its GrapevineAI platform, marking a critical phase in its growth journey. According to Shah, the company’s technology is unlike common influencer platforms in that it is “purpose-built” for delivering creator campaigns for paid social and that it serves growth marketers, not organic influencer teams. The platform enables growth marketers to have more control of content angles, testing and iteration, and performance visibility.
“We’ve seen a lot of buy-in and can’t wait to keep innovating in the space,” he said.
Below, Shah describes GrapevineAI’s purpose and impact, its tight-knit culture and his leadership vision.
Our goal at GrapevineAI is to make it dead simple for the growth marketer to launch third-party creator campaigns. We’ve found this operation requires heavy lifting to find the right creators, negotiate one-off deals, manage deliverables and do last-mile designing and editing. GrapevineAI’s technology platform and marketplace of creators, designers and editors makes turning concepts into campaigns as easy as ordering an Uber.
“GrapevineAI’s technology platform and marketplace of creators, designers and editors makes turning concepts into campaigns as easy as ordering an Uber.”
On stepping up as CEO:
During the pandemic, I stepped back from the day-to-day and did some soul-searching around what’s next post Ampush. I considered leadership roles at companies, investing, starting a new business … but I ultimately realized my heart was in building companies with more of a product focus rather than services. I knew wanted to be a CEO after spending 10-plus years as Ampush’s COO.
When I co-founded GrapevineAI as CEO, I brought over the best of what I learned previously — particularly around hiring, culture and mentorship. I’m learning a lot and growing more than I ever have. It’s nice to have ‘unfair advantages,’ given my deep tentacles in the space.”
“When I co-founded GrapevineAI as CEO, I brought over the best of what I learned previously — particularly around hiring, culture and mentorship.”
On mentorship and culture:
“As CEO, I take pride in setting the tone for the company and mentoring my team members. I would describe my leadership style as forward-thinking, playful and collaborative. The GrapevineAI family is lean, so it’s easy to get to know everyone on a personal level. We have daily check-in meetings, companywide off-sites and teamwide bonding events. We crack jokes in the office and view ‘mistakes’ as learning opportunities, which contributes to the growth mindset that we instill in our employees.”
- Entrepreneurial rigor
- Playing to win
- Being vested in each other
On GrapevineAI’s long-term impact:
“One of the main reasons we decided to rebrand to GrapevineAI is because we know that AI will serve a critical purpose in the future of virtually every industry, and it will have a significant impact on growth marketing.
However, we’re not fans of AI generating content from scratch — it’s unauthentic, and we want to promote real experiences. Instead, once our real creators produce raw content, we think AI can be powerful in adapting seed content for performance in various formats and channels.
I spend a lot of time looking at the big picture and envisioning what our company will look like in the future. The world of marketing is constantly changing, and I want to ensure we stay at the forefront of innovation.”