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Meet Mark Willingham of AGENT Modeling Platform

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Willingham.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Mark. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Well… the path I have taken has certainly not been a straight one. I have been an entrepreneur my entire life and have always made sure to focus on 1) things I really enjoy, and 2) game-changing concepts.

My career began running a Los Angeles-based marketing agency, followed by voice recognition technology, and then fashion.

Now, with AGENT, Inc., we are committed to reimagining and improving the entire modeling industry. People often comment that the industries in which I have worked seem very disconnected from each other and wonder how I transitioned across them. Well, because I am a marketer at heart, the common thread is based on marketing and brand strategy. Marketing fundamentals do not really change across industries or business types and I have been able to leverage this to my benefit. The other common thread is a personal one and that is my compulsive drive to succeed. For good or for bad, this is what has always provided me with the confidence to pursue projects that, to others, might seem unsurmountable. At AGENT, my business partners and very passionate team have taken on the very traditional, vastly unchanged, multi-billion dollar modeling industry and within a couple of short years, we have become the fastest-growing modeling platform in the world.

The story is just beginning.

Has it been a smooth road?
Very few roads are super smooth when you are tackling major initiatives. One of the biggest initial challenges we faced was convincing people that we could change a multi-billion dollar, established industry with a small team of people. We were able to overcome this obstacle by proving how quickly models would seek us out once they realized the value we were providing to them. Another challenge was dealing with the fluid dynamics associated with modeling jobs. There are many players and variables which can either positively or negatively affect each and every job and our platform had to be able to accommodate all of these in an extremely efficient manner. Through the integration of proprietary technology and algorithms, artificial intelligence and detailed workflows we have demonstrated that our platform can provide an exceptional experience for both models and clients that cannot be matched by a traditional modeling agency.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with AGENT – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
AGENT is a technology-driven platform, which is the result of our focus to completely re-imagine and improve the modeling industry. With more than 25,000 registered models, we are already the world’s fastest growing modeling platform.

The modeling industry, at its core, has pretty much remained the same for the past 70 years with modeling agencies representing models (often on an exclusive basis) and connecting them with companies that want to book models. The traditional modeling agencies take a commission of up to 20% from both the model and the company. And, the process of booking a model can be very time consuming as the companies need to search through an agency’s book of models, either online or in print, identify which models are of interest to them and then communicate this to the agency – via phone or email – who then need to determine the model’s availability for the proposed job and then negotiate the model’s rate for the job. 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. Then, there are issues of safety (Does the person hiring the model have a criminal/sex offender record?), payment (Will it take weeks or even months for the model to be paid?), lack of transparency (How much is the modeling agency actually getting paid by the client? What is expected of the model on set?) and career control issues (Exclusivity agreements between models and agencies tie the models’ hands, preventing them from controlling their own destiny).

Now, with the AGENT platform, things are much different… and much better. AGENT offers companies more diversity and overall options than a traditional modeling agency. AGENT provides real value to both sides of the marketplace, empowering companies to efficiently find and book highly-vetted models in minutes by utilizing powerful, granular search filers. The AGENT platform is free to use and a highly discounted fee of only 5% is charged to companies once they have completed the job and electronically paid the model. Further, for companies which book models, AGENT provides a guarantee of 100% satisfaction and offers 24/7 customer support. This type of guarantee or support is unheard of in the industry.

For models, the AGENT platform is focused on empowering them and providing the tools and guidance to control and grow their careers. We have created a much safer work environment for models by running criminal/sex offender background checks on every person who wants to use the platform to book them. In addition, the models set their own rates on the platform and we support electronic, same-day payments with the money being deposited directly into the models’ bank accounts when a job is completed. Further, AGENT does not require exclusivity contracts, is free for models to apply and be listed, and a discounted booking fee of 10% is only charged to models when they are paid for a completed job. Traditional agencies normally charge models a 20% booking fee.
In addition, the AGENT platform provides for total transparency, giving both clients and models the power to rate each other at the completion of each job.

We are proud of everything we have accomplished to date but I believe we should never be too comfortable with our progress. Our goals are extremely lofty. As the technology leader in the industry, we are focused on continually raising the bar and setting higher and higher standards. Through the integration of artificial intelligence and predictive algorithms, we are able to match companies and the best models for their needs. To us, it is not about being a modeling company with great technology, it is about being a company that sees the modeling industry through a completely different lens. A company that is progressive and forward-looking and addresses the needs of an ever-changing world. We support diversity, inclusiveness, safety, transparency and improved efficiency for both clients and models.

Further, we have made sure that our solution is accessible across devices for all users. We currently provide both an iOS app and web app and an Android app will be available during the second quarter of 2019.

Although our initial focus has been on the U.S. market, we will soon be expanding into international markets.

How do you, personally, define success? What’s your criteria, the markers you’re looking out for, etc?
Well, the most classic measure of success for many people is whether or not they have achieved their pre-defined goals. I am a huge believer in setting big goals and breaking those down into smaller goals that can be achieved in shorter periods of time. However, I also believe that one can succeed by failing. If you look at each failure as a real learning experience of what does not work or what could have been done differently, you are really creating stepping stones towards future success.

Pricing:

  • There is no cost to set up an AGENT account. It is totally free.
  • By setting up an account users, whether they are models or clients who wish to book models, can explore the platform. And, even applying to be listed on the platform as a model is free.
  • AGENT only charges 5% to the client and 10% to the model. This is a 75% and 50% discount, respectively, to what is normally charged by traditional modeling agencies.

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