Meeta Vengapally is a top Instagram influencer as well as founder and CEO of Garnysh, a Silicon Valley-based fitness and technology company that uses real-time tracking and analytics to support fitness and nutrition goals. Known for her glamorous photos and flashy product endorsements, Meeta’s Instagram profile page is @meetamoment, where she has over 182,000 followers and counting.
More than 500 brands have approached Meeta for sponsorship and promotions, including Target, Bumble Biz, Amazon, Fresh Beauty, Frigidaire, and Sephora. She has also graced many magazine covers as a Top Influencer, including Gmaro, Moevir Paris, and Rich & Beautiful.
We sat down for an interview with Meeta to learn how she first got her start, what her approach to influencer marketing is, and her recommendations for how others can launch their own influencer careers.
AllBusiness: How did you get started as an influencer on Instagram?
Meeta Vengapally: When I first founded my tech and fitness startup, I was approached by a fitness company to test their new products and provide feedback. I had less than 5,000 Instagram followers back then. Providing this kind of feedback seemed to be a good fit. I loved doing it and the rest was history. One partnership led to another, and now I have a team whose entire job is to vet sponsorships and deals daily. Looking back on things, the whole process was natural and organic.
AllBusiness: What does it mean to you to be an influencer?
Vengapally: That’s a good question. When I was starting out, I didn’t know that’s what I was. As this thing began to grow, I heard myself being called an influencer and actually had to look up what that meant. This was back when the concept was pretty new.
What it means to be an influencer changes for me every day. At this moment, being an influencer is about sharing and lifting people up with my content. I give each product the time and focus that it deserves, then I take care to share the products that really resonate with me and my followers. I’m all about spreading positivity and making my voice heard. The only products that I endorse are the ones that uphold this vision.
AllBusiness: What is your “voice” and how is it different?
Vengapally: For me, it’s all about authenticity. What you see in my photos is who I really am. What I share are products that I truly enjoy. I respect my followers and want them to experience the real me, no matter what. My team is always making fun of me because I take so much time to make sure the captions are perfect, that my reviews for each product are genuine and thorough. All the success I have enjoyed in life comes from embracing my attitude and vibe and bringing that into everything I do in a positive way.
AllBusiness: You’ve had so many brands approach you about advertising. How do they approach you? How do you decide what campaigns to take on?
Vengapally: The majority of the companies reach out to me through email or direct messages on Instagram. It’s fun when there’s a new request because I enjoy getting to know that brand and what they have to offer. But I have to be selective because I only have so much time in the day! My decision about who I take on is based on assessing if it’s a good fit, determining if there’s some value that I can add as an influencer, and seeing if the product aligns with my personal brand. Keep in mind that I’m a wife and mother of two, so it’s important to me to find a campaign that truly fits my lifestyle.
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AllBusiness: What’s your approach to promoting businesses you believe in and getting them noticed?
Vengapally: This is my favorite part. I feel a real connection to companies that are supplying products that I love and believe in. When it comes to beauty products, the area where I get the most endorsements, it’s so uplifting to find something that makes me feel beautiful, pampered, healthy, and rejuvenated. When I share these kinds of products with my followers, I take the utmost care to help them understand the awesome benefits the product gives me. You could say it’s like marketing, but for me, it’s sharing my genuine enthusiasm. I get these brands noticed because unlike commercials or magazine ads, I’m a real person with nothing to hide. My subscribers know that my love for certain things is real.
AllBusiness: What’s your approach to branding?
Vengapally: I suppose this is always shifting. We as human beings are always changing. But from the beginning, my brand has always been sassy, empowering, inclusive, and positivity-based. I can see things from so many different angles. It’s not just about women, mothers, or businesspeople. My audience is male and female, of every size and color, and from various walks of life. To be honest, I don’t focus on branding; I’m merely truthful to who I am and how I see the world. This creates a brand for me naturally. Again, authenticity goes a long way.
AllBusiness: Why are so many businesses employing influencer marketing? What benefits do they see?
Vengapally: I wholeheartedly believe that influencer marketing is the future. The days of staged TV commercials are gone. No one believes in that stuff anymore. I’m tired of looking at glossy magazine ads with models that I don’t relate to in any way. I want to see real people with real lives showcasing products that are meaningful and useful. The most unique thing about influencer marketing is that the influencer is seen in their day-to-day life, using the product. That’s reality, and I believe people are much more likely to spend their hard-earned money on something tangible like that. They’re purchasing the product because they’ve seen it reviewed by someone they trust and admire. Companies that embrace influencers are leading-edge companies.
AllBusiness: How were you able to amass so many followers?
Vengapally: Content is king. Putting out the best content continually resonates with people and presenting it using your authentic self is even more powerful. For me, it was a ripple effect. Because I put out quality content that people like, they share that content and this brings me more followers. Essentially, you grow your followers on Instagram as you get shared.
Presenting giveaways by various brands is also valuable. This is one of my favorite ways to grow as an influencer because I’m providing something fun and interactive for my followers. They get a kick out of it.
My go-to tips are: Know your audience and yourself, make your content relevant and shareable, and always keep it fun.
AllBusiness: What would you recommend to someone who wants to become an influencer?
Vengapally: Be vigilant about the quality of your content. Never be lazy. Open your heart and mind, have a clear vision, and make sure that you’re showcasing products in the best way. My team and I are thorough with each product that I take on. We brainstorm, come up with unique ideas, and make sure that everything is as best as we can make it.
When you’re continuously putting out quality content, you’ll pique interest, people will begin to share what you’re posting, and you’ll watch your status as an influencer grow because you have something truly inspiring to offer. If you’re having a great time at what you do, your chances for success are exponential.
AllBusiness: How much time do you devote each week to your social media posts? What does a typical week look like for you?
Vengapally: I do a photoshoot once or twice a week. I like to shoot several products at once because I get in the zone and my focus is strong. This also frees me up for the laundry list of other things in my life. I manage my kids’ accounts and their content is mostly videos. They are Top Video creators on IGTV. Once all the content is shot, it’s a matter of coming up with captions. I like to call them storylines. They bridge the gap between me, the product, and my photo. Once all that is set, my team takes a look ahead. We typically get all future posts up in the scheduler 2-3 weeks in advance. This method keeps me organized.
AllBusiness: What would you do differently if you started now?
Vengapally: Figure out a method for storing all the products I’m about to review. Eventually, I created a system in my home, but my kids sometimes joke that they live at Neiman Marcus. It is important to prepare for success and create a system early on to keep everything organized, cataloged, and ready to go.
One thing that most influencers don’t realize is that not only does it take a lot of time to photograph products, but it also takes an equal amount of time to test them and incorporate them into your life so that you can give an honest review. Once you take on as many companies as I partner with, it can easily become a full-time job.
AllBusiness: What kinds of posts and content work best on Instagram?
Vengapally: Instagram is all about individuals. If you’re trying to be something you’re not, your posts won’t resonate. It brings me back to my foundation: authenticity. I love having photoshoots at my home, on vacation, etc. When I take a photo with a skincare product, it’s done in my bathroom. I want people to see my world and who I really am. Because I’ve done this from the get-go, my content has always resonated with people. Humans have an innate desire to see one another and I let my followers see the real me.
AllBusiness: What are some of the favorite brands you have worked with?
Vengapally: There are so many. I’m so lucky that I get to work with the best companies. Off the top of my head, Bumble Biz has me mentor their first-time CEOs and entrepreneurs, which is very rewarding. Chi Hair, because their products make my hair look amazing. Target is a fantastic partner and my family shops there religiously. Fresh Beauty is everything that the name suggests. Their lip tints are phenomenal and smell so good. Spa Sciences hooks me up with some amazing skincare tools. The global fashion brand, Shein, has such beautiful, iconic pieces. Betsey & Adam is another fashion favorite. Clarins is a luxury French skincare brand and I can’t go a day without their eye creams. I love Wine Insiders, for obvious reasons. Pixi holds a special place in my heart because they were the first brand that believed in me. I’ll always be grateful to them for that.
AllBusiness: What entrepreneurs inspire you?
Vengapally: I’m a huge fan of Mark Cuban and not just because of Shark Tank. His investment in startups is inspiring. True entrepreneurs are not focused on what worked in the past but what exciting things are on the horizon. That takes a ton of guts. Steve Jobs is another one. He changed the entire world. I’ve heard people say that successful entrepreneurship is seeing an invisible target and hitting it. I find inspiration from that in my own entrepreneurial pursuits. Arianna Huffington is such an inspiration to me. Not only did she found The Huffington Post, but she’s also an accomplished author and incredible role model. And I keep a picture of Beyoncé in my office.
AllBusiness: Any favorite quotes?
- “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” —Vincent Van Gogh
- “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” —Steve Jobs
- “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” —Billie Jean King
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Photo credits: upside down hair image © Chasing Faces / Mike Jimenez; all other photos © Alex Matt