The idea:Custom video messages from sports stars, YouTube phenoms, and reality TV icons
The aha moment:About a year and a half ago, NFL agent Martin Blencowe showed Steven Galanis, 30, who was working at LinkedIn at the time, a video of one of his clients, Cassius Marsh (then of the Seattle Seahawks), congratulating a friend on the birth of his son. “The second I saw that video, I felt there was something big here,” Galanis says.
Since then:The women of Real Housewives, social media stars, pro athletes, and many castoffs from The Bachelor are now at your disposal when a friend deserves props. Galanis enlisted Devon Townsend, an old fraternity buddy from Duke University, to create Cameo’s software, which allows you to book a personalized video from the company’s roster of—let’s face it—B-list-at-best celebrities, which currently numbers 1,300. You tell them what to say—and you can be as specific as you want. (Tori Spelling was asked to congratulate an expectant mom on her forthcoming baby girl after years of “too many penises.”) The celebs set their own price: A shout-out from NYC housewife Ramona Singer, for example, will set you back $50, while one from Tay Zonday—the YouTuber famous for a minute for his “Chocolate Rain” song—costs just 10 bucks. To date, Cameo has facilitated more than 25,000 connections between stars and mere mortals. As more, uh, talent signed on, investors followed suit, including Ezra Galston, a Chicago venture capitalist who’s helped fund SpotHero and Luxury Garage Sale. He likes that Cameo unites “two people who want to connect in an authentic way.” Authentic? Eh. With a gleefully campy wink? Absolutely.