Meet Sam Bevan, EMEA Director of Emerging at Snapchat

Tell us about the work of the Emerging Team at Snap and what startups should know?

The Emerging Team partners with startups across the media spectrum, from FinTech to e-commerce, right the way through to some of the more traditional brands which are going through massive changes/disruption. The core focus of our team is to partner with, and closely support, these companies, as they are going through these rapid stages of growth.

What they all have in common is that, these companies want to reach and engage with Gen Z and Millennials audiences what we call the ‘Snapchat generation’ – ie. the 500m monthly users of our platform. This generation is very different to what has come before them, for example according to research from Crowd DNA, they are more ecologically aware, more concerned about social injustice and they actively care about a brand’s ethical behaviour.

At Snap everything starts with our passionate, engaged community who are critically important to the future of our society and business and are opening their Snapchat app 30 times a day(!) We know how to engage with that community, and our job is to work with start-ups to help them drive campaigns that this audience responds to.


What are your top tips for startups in growth marketing and gaining a competitive edge?

Firstly you need to truly understand the demographic and the core audience you are trying to reach and how to engage them. Next, is understanding where you are looking to grow and understanding what the different platforms offer. It’s really important for startups to have a diverse media strategy, because it allows them to have less risk and enables them to tell different stories for different journeys and then ultimately, really understand how their consumer interacts along that journey. 

Snapchat is focused on Real Friends’ communication and vetted content – there is no open news feed. What this means for brands is that they are able to engage with people when they’re having meaningful conversations with true friends. Through Snap’s Augmented Reality capabilities, brands can reach Snapchatters through practical activities such as virtual product trials that can be done anywhere. Or they can use AR to entertain. It is incredibly powerful for people to choose to put a brand in the photos and videos, play with it for multiple seconds, and then send it to their friends — an incredible recommendation.


How were you able to secure a leading role in a company like Snapchat at such a young age?

Leading the Emerging Business for Snap is like coming home for me – I founded my own start-up when I was 16, which was later acquired. So I’ve very much been on the entrepreneur’s journey and understand first hand a founder’s perspective. Snapchat as a company is ten years old and while its scaled massively in recent years particularly, it still retains a real entrepreneurial spirit and so when I joined fiver and a half years ago I slotted right in

If you talk to a lot of the startups, what’s really important for them is to partner with people who are entrepreneurially minded. Business startups are very disruptive in their nature, meaning a high pace, high energy mentality and constantly looking to do things differently. And that challenges us, makes us better as a company and makes our products better as a result.


What steps should the tech industry take to facilitate more lateral thinking?

As someone who is dyslexic, I really hate the fact dyslexia is described as a ‘a disability’. In my view, it is really an alternative way of thinking and for startups this can be hugely beneficial. Dyslexic people are famous for being able to problem solve and that’s what startups want – someone who could solve a genuine business issue for them. In fact, more than 40% of founders have dyslexia, which is pretty amazing considering it’s about one in five in the population as a whole.

Snapchat has been a company at the forefront of positive change in terms of encouraging lateral thinking. But I think there are very basic things which businesses can do to better support people with neurodiverse backgrounds. Everything from working out how much has to be done over email versus in conversation. When I graduated more than 70% of the companies I applied for made you do a written test, which was timed. This instantly puts a bit of a barrier up for people who are neurodiverse to get even their fair share of interviews. One reason I love startups a lot is they don’t have time for emails, they just want a quick call.