Today we're talking to Agent's CEO Mark Willingham to hear how he's revolutionizing the modeling industry with his new venture. This innovative industry app is the latest tool that connects models and companies for ease of access and coordination with 100 percent transparency. And it's now available for download on iOS and iTunes.
Here's Mark to share his vision and the principles behind the app.
Give us an overview of how Agent works.
Agent is a technology-driven platform which is the result of our focus to completely re-imagine the modeling industry. The industry, at its core, has pretty much remained the same since its inception with modeling agencies representing models (often on an exclusive basis) and connecting them with companies which want to book models. Depending on the complexity of the job and a variety of other factors, this process can take from a few hours to a week or more.
Now, with the Agent platform, things are much different. Agent offers companies more diversity and overall options than a traditional modeling agency. The platform is free to use and a small fee of five percent is only charged to companies once they have completed the job and electronically paid the model.
For models, the Agent platform has created a much safer work environment for models by running a criminal/sex offender background check on every person who wants to use the platform to book them. In addition, the models set their own rates and are paid immediately (direct deposit in to their bank accounts) when the job is completed.
Is it just for models or other talent as well?
The Agent platform is currently focused on models but we have plans to include photographers, stylists, makeup artists, actors, musicians and other entertainment and fashion-related verticals which have traditionally relied on agents to drive the business.
What’s the process to register?
Simply go www.agent.com to download the iOS app. For models, a wizard will allow them to quickly upload photos to their application and, after answering a few questions about their modeling areas of interest—such as high fashion, runway, trade shows, promotions, etc.—they can submit for committee review. The review is normally completed within 2 working days and, if approved, the model’s profile will immediately become visible on the Agent platform and can be offered jobs.
For companies, a user can register and start to search the Agent model database. However, in order to actually book a model, the person must complete a short application so that we can verify their identity and perform a background check. This final step in the application process only takes a few minutes, but ensures that we have the safest work environment for models and, therefore, have the largest, most diverse database of models for companies that want to hire them.
What’s your favorite feature?
We have so many industry-changing features! For models it’s not so much a platform feature but an overall offering of empowerment. At Agent, empowerment means the ability to positively control your modeling career due to the fact that we provide a safer environment, allow for setting your own rates, don’t have exclusivity contracts, provide for immediate electronic payment and empower the models with the ability to rate the companies that hire them. For companies, it's hands-down our powerful search functionality, which leverages a proprietary algorithm and soon-to-be-implemented artificial intelligence to provide the best model options for every company/brand using the Agent platform.
How do you see Agent expanding the industry?
The size of the modeling industry in the U.S. alone is currently $1.2 billion, and we are making finding and booking models so easy and cost-efficient that the size of the market will actually expand. For example, why would a California-based company fly four additional sales or marketing employees to a trade show in NYC—which is very expensive considering airfare, hotel rooms and their time—when the company can use Agent to hire four NYC-based models in minutes who each have the perfect skill-set to assist at their booth? A company can save thousands of dollars in time and expenses by using Agent for just one trade show, not to mention other uses such as promotional events, corporate events, photo shoots, fashion shows, etc.
The current state of the modeling industry is fragmented and inefficient, and Agent is out to change that in a way that everyone benefits big time.