Shaper: Dominic Smales

Show aired on 28th November 2015


After spending 15 years in media, production and advertising Dominic Smales set up Gleam Futures, initially to help online communities connect for mutual benefit. This has evolved now into purely managing ‘Social Talent’, a term coined by Gleam to describe a group of individuals who have achieved the kind of reach and influence on social media platforms usually associated with traditional celebrity or media ownership. Gleam looks after the very top tier of online super influence in the UK, primarily in the entertainment and lifestyle area. The joint reach of the top 10 talent on Gleam Futures Roster delivers over 21m subscribers on YouTube and have clocked up over 1.1 billion views  so far.

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We manage talent who have started their careers on social media platforms. We shape long, illustrious careers from that start.

I noticed the young’uns in the office spending more time checking Facebook out rather than doing any work and I too got sucked in. YouTube was the thing that fascinated me.

I noticed these two girls doing make-up tutorials on the homepage of Youtube. I gave them some advice from my experience and ended up representing them. They recommended me to their friends, and their friends to their friends.

These guys now are sitting on audiences of you know, 5, 10 million subscribers at a time.

I started off being really small but trying to act much bigger than I was. I worked hard until I could afford to have someone help me, and then until I could afford to have two people help me.

I cared about the talent and their interests, first and foremost, but with a commercial instinct. I knew the value of what they were creating because I had dealt with media owners and advertisers for the last fifteen years.

There’s no editor, there’s no commissioner, there’s no studio boss saying, ‘Ooh I don’t think they’re right in that slot’.

It’s not easy to connect with millions of people, globally, across cultural boundaries, across language barriers and continue to grow and be successful and engage people.  You try it.

In starting any business you’ve got to be honest and passionate about what you do. Success will follow.

The tipping point for success is the realisation that it’s about the talent rather than the platform. If the talent has a great relationship with their audience then the platform is irrelevant.