A 23-year-old former actor turned entrepreneur has hailed Tech Manchester's mentoring scheme as "an invaluable opportunity".

Waterloo Road star Reece Douglas set up his firm, Brand Endorsement, just over a year ago and is already making waves in the world of influencer marketing.

The company connects brands with influences who resonate with their target market to increase engagement on social media platform.

Douglas hit on the idea for his business during long days waiting in the green room on the set of the school drama. He used his large Twitter following and influence as an actor to ask companies for clothing and products.

"I began making cheeky requests and to my surprise brands sent me products," he said. "I received all sorts of things including a drone and expensive clothing.

"Companies were prepared to give away products with no relevance to my acting career or to any of my followers. That’s when I realised brands needed help to connect with the right social media influencer."

The young entrepreneur is now taking steps to use tech to grow the business. He is currently looking for investment to create a platform that is a one-stop-shop for content creation campaigns, influencer campaigns and events. 

"The biggest thing in influencer marketing right now is data," he said. "A brand needs to be able to assess the analytics of a campaign to understand their return on investment. 

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"The platform makes the process clearer for brands, marketers and influencers.  It also makes sure any influencers Brand Endorsement is collaborating with are genuine."

Brand Endorsement is supported by Tech Manchester, a not-for-profit initiative that connects digital start-ups with entrepreneurs in a mentoring scheme.

It is backed by a number of entrepreneurs including UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones MBE, as well as Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

"I knew having a mentor could really fast-track my business," Douglas said. "I went to Tech Manchester's Meet the Mentor event and haven't looked back.

"The opportunity’s been invaluable; it's brought so much clarity to the objectives I have for the business and the decisions that need to be made in order to get there."

Tech Manchester project lead Patricia Keating added: "It's great to see the energy and focus that the Tech Manchester mentoring scheme is generating. 

"We have some fantastic mentors who are making a real difference to start-ups on the ground in Greater Manchester. The first wave of this project is already delivering incredible results, helping to further accelerate the region’s thriving tech scene."

Last week, cloud hosting firm UKFast announced it is creating a 30,000 sq ft incubator space for tech start-ups at its newly extended campus in Manchester, with Tech Manchester managing the community.