In its earliest stages, New York-based Neon Coat was something of a forum for models to come together for community, job leads, and support.

Co-founder Larissa Drekonja, a model and actress, came up with the idea for Neon Coat back in 2014 when she realized that it was mostly promoters and agents making money off young, up-and-comers, while the models themselves were struggling.

“I thought there was a disconnect,” Larissa said. “Models didn’t have a union or anything, like actors and writers do, to look out for their interests.”  In the original iteration of the app, fitness clubs, bars, restaurants, and other brick-and-mortar businesses, could locate models to appear on-site and promote a venue, and be paid directly.

In the past couple of years, however, the focus has shifted to beauty and other industries looking to Neon Coat to find the perfect influencer/model for their campaigns, leading to an entirely new business model.

“We were finding that beauty was the number one vertical, followed by fashion and accessories, in terms of brands seeking great content,” said co-founder Dan Berger. “We started getting interest from brands who realized we have this super valuable group of people who could be amazing spokespeople for all these products.”

To-date, more than 6,300 influencers have registered on the Neon Coat app, across all genders and demographics; models must be 18 years or older to apply and have a minimum of 1,000 followers. Larissa said the platform allows for a fair and transparent transaction: a brand posts their need for a campaign or experience, and an influencer decides whether they want to apply. The entire transaction is then handled on the platform, including tracking of products. Once content is posted, the system captures the campaign for the brand.

“Everything is automated from start to finish,” said Dan. “So, a brand can have a social media campaign completed in four weeks, with 20 or 30 beautiful pieces of content reaching millions of people, elevating the brand as well as giving them content that can be reposted on their own account.”

Dan said that the app has been used by emerging beauty brands as well as larger companies, but it is ideal for small companies that don’t have a dedicated social media manager.

“If there is a brand with one or two people running around doing a million different things, this is a turnkey experience,” he said. A campaign can be run for a few thousand dollars, although Neon Coat will soon launch a subscription model allowing them to run campaigns throughout the year.

“We see this pricing as quite competitive compared to a PR agency,” said Dan.

Larissa added that a brand would have to call several different agencies and may not get the same diversity of options to realize the results Neon Coat delivers.

And outside of the digital space, said Larissa, the original tenet of Neon Coat still applies.

“Our models can get paid to go to salons, restaurants, fitness clubs, enjoy a treatment, and create their own posts, and that’s something that is open to anyone in the network,” she said.