Performance-Optimized Influencer Marketing

1stCollab is an AI-powered influencer marketing platform for helping brands optimize performance. We are the first platform that leverages ML to accurately predict a creator's performance and use those predictions to recruit the most relevant, best-performing creators for a brand’s upcoming influencer campaigns. Our founding team collectively spent 30 years at Pinterest building up most of its Discovery systems, so are experts at finding the perfect set of creators for optimizing engagement. Let us know if we can help you run an influencer marketing campaign and see how our brands have reduced their CAC by over 70%!

Team Size:5
Location:San Francisco
Group Partner:Gustaf Alstromer

Active Founders

Leon Lin

Currently working on 1stCollab, the best platform for brands and creators to collaborate on influencer marketing campaigns. I was previously at Pinterest for over nine years, where I watched the company grow from 100 to 3k employees. Most recently, I was Head of Discovery product there where I led our Home, Search, and Pins teams and was responsible for user engagement. Before that, I was a tech lead on the Recommendations team.

Leon Lin
Leon Lin

Varun Bansal

Co-founder at 1stCollab, a platform for brands and creators to connect and run marketing campaigns together. Before 1stCollab, I worked at Pinterest, where I was a product manager for the homefeed recommendations team, the international growth team, and—most recently—the creator engagement and community teams.

Varun Bansal
Varun Bansal

Carina Cater

Co-founder at 1stCollab, a platform for brands and creators to connect and run marketing campaigns together. Before 1stCollab, I worked at startups like Whatnot, Robinhood, & Curology, where I built & led influencer marketing programs. Most recently, I was Head of Influencer Marketing at Whatnot, a live shopping platform.

Carina Cater
Carina Cater

Andrew Liu

Currently working on building a network for brands and creators to connect and launch marketing campaigns. Previously, I was a Tech Lead on search and recommendations at Coupang and Pinterest. If you're interested in search, recommendations, or creators, please reach out :)!

Andrew Liu
Andrew Liu

Company Launches


Influencer marketing is one of the most efficient ways to reach and acquire new customers, but it’s tedious to run campaigns. By leveraging machine learning and our prior campaign data, 1stCollab lets you run a campaign in under 30 minutes. Visit 1stcollab.com to get started with your next influencer marketing campaign!

Why is influencer marketing hard?

From our time working at large social media platforms, we know that influencer marketing consistently outperforms organic ads. Unfortunately, launching an influencer campaign is a manual and lengthy process. Launching an influencer campaign takes weeks, while launching Google ads takes just minutes.

The first step of every influencer campaign is to find the right creators to work with—which often takes over 50 hours per campaign. Existing solutions cost tens of thousands of dollars and operate off inaccurate data. As a result, the majority of influencer marketers spend hours manually searching on YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram. From there, they have to manually calculate stats, vet a creator’s audience, evaluate past partnerships, and negotiate rates and contract terms, review creatives, report out campaign metrics, and finally submit payments. This whole process often takes 2+ weeks for a single campaign.

How does it work?

1stCollab lets you launch an influencer marketing campaign in minutes—not weeks. All you have to do is find a single influencer who's relevant to your brand and target customers. Then:

  1. Use our influencer look-alike discovery tool to identify, vet, and save additional influencers you'd like to work with. We do what the best influencer marketers do: identify a single relevant creator, dig through that creator’s community, identify additional relevant creators, and repeat the process—but automatically.
  2. Send us your list of saved influencers and tell us about your campaign goals and budget.
  3. We'll take care of everything from there. All you have to do is approve the content that the influencers will post.

We support campaigns on all platforms. Our self-serve discovery tool currently supports YouTube, and we’re launching for Instagram and TikTok soon.

Our Team

Our team has built some of the largest and most-used discovery and ML systems in the world, and has led industry-leading influencer marketing programs.

  • Leon spent nine years at Pinterest, where he was most recently Head of Discovery Product.
  • Varun was at Pinterest for five years, where he led product for both the Creator Engagement and Recommendations teams.
  • Carina led influencer marketing at Whatnot, Robinhood, and Curology.
  • Andrew was the tech lead for the Recommendations and Search team at Coupang and the Recommendations team at Pinterest.
  • Kevin was a Founding Engineer and tech lead for the Machine Learning team at Abnormal Security and earlier, an engineer on the Recommendations team at Pinterest.

Our Ask

  • Want to give influencer marketing a try? We'd love to help! We're the easiest and fastest way to do it. Our discovery tool is free to try and we’re happy to help you run the rest of your campaign.
  • Know someone doing influencer marketing? We'd love to be connected. Even if our product isn't the right fit, we’d love to know how we can make their process faster and improve their performance.
  • No plans to run an influencer marketing campaign? Feel free to use our discovery tool and explore creators you might want to work with in the future! We'd love to get feedback on the discovery experience.

If you have any questions, shoot us an email at hello@1stcollab.com!

Hear from the founders

How did your company get started? (i.e., How did the founders meet? How did you come up with the idea? How did you decide to be a founder?)

After working on creator-related products for three years at Pinterest—and talking with dozens of creators about the challenges they faced—Varun and Leon began brainstorming different ways creators could better monetize the enormous value they delivered to their audiences and to brands. After testing a number of concepts, they became excited by the idea of building better discovery experiences to help brands find creators for their campaigns. A mutual friend connected them with Carina, who was independently building something similar. Andrew had also previously worked with Varun and Leon on discovery at Pinterest, and joined the team as well. Soon after, 1stCollab was born!

What is the core problem you are solving? Why is this a big problem? What made you decide to work on it?

We’re focused on solving a two-sided marketplace problem, for brands and creators. For brands, their biggest pain point with influencer marketing is discovering and sourcing creators. Platforms that exist today not only cost >$30k each year, but have very limited discovery capabilities. For instance, Grin.co, one of the top two influencer marketing platforms today, does not surface any Instagram influencers as part of their sourcing tools. We’re going to be the first influencer marketing platform that prioritizes discovery and create the best discovery experience for brands by growing a network of authenticated creators and surfacing those creators through industry leading discovery algorithms and experiences. For creators, 99% of creators don’t get brand deals today, because creators don’t have a way to actively apply to relevant campaigns. By creating an open platform that has a broad set of brands, we can help creators apply to campaigns by showcasing those brands and their campaigns to relevant creators. Creators know their audience and content the best, and through encouraging creator participation, we can facilitate better matchmaking between brands and creators than any platform out there.

What is your long-term vision? If you truly succeed, what will be different about the world?

From working at social media companies, we know that users engage at much higher rates with sponsored creator content than organic ads. But the market for sponsored influencer content is being held back, because it’s hard to run influencer marketing campaigns and the tools out there today don’t make it much easier. 1stCollab will simplify and automate influencer marketing the same way that Facebook and Google transformed the digital ads market. If we’re successful, we’ll enable a new category of ad spend—helping more brands to leverage influencer marketing and shift more of their budgets towards it. That’s money that goes directly to creators, enabling orders of magnitude more people to make a living as full-time creators. We have the opportunity to make content creation a genuinely feasible career for many, many talented folks out there—and we’re excited to make it happen.