When Kit Chilvers first started posting football stories and pictures that interested him on Instagram during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he was just having fun, little thinking that it was the first step on the road to being CEO of a fast-growing digital content business with more than 90 million followers just eight years later.
That first page, Footballnewz, soon started picking up a significant following on Instagram, which itself was an emerging platform and not the behemoth it is today. While Kit, still in high school at the time, just loved posting stories that got a reaction, the numbers grew, and he started to get enquiries from marketing agencies to put out shout-outs on the page in return for a fee.
This lit a fire in Kit and he was soon making enough money to buy the latest trainers and video games – and more besides.
Footballnewz continued to grow, and Kit would often be reprimanded by his teachers for always being on his phone during school hours. Undeterred, he used his breaktimes and lunchtimes to post new content to ensure the site continued to attract new followers.
It was at about this time Kit began to believe that he could make a career out of his work on Instagram. Footballnewz had more than 1 million followers, and other sites he set up also soon had hundreds of thousands of followers as well.
Such success with these sites did not go unnoticed by key social media players in the market, including the phenomenally successful digital content publisher LADbible. LADbible’s founder, Alexander ‘Solly’ Solomou, was just one who got in contact with Kit – but the only one to offer him a job.
As Kit was still only 16, Solly had to set up a special apprenticeship programme for him, along with his friend – and later business partner, Iyrah Rodway Williams – to begin working at LADBible
But with LADBible being based in Manchester, and Kit living in Worcestershire, it presented a problem – he would have to move. While it wasn’t possible for the family to move north, Solly helped Kit and Iyrah to find an apartment in Manchester and start work at LADBible on the company Instagram accounts. While making such a move at a young age was a wrench for Kit, he knew it was something he had to do to achieve his ambitions.
While at LADBible, Kit continued to run the pages he had already established, which now included Footballnewz, dadsaysjokes and the huge Pubity, which covers memes, funny content, culture and lifestyle, among others.
It soon became clear that Kit had effectively set up a business, but the pages were largely run by other people as he worked at LADBible during the day. So in 2017 Kit left LADbible – with Solly’s blessing – to concentrate on building Pubity Group and its related pages into a viable business.
By this time, meme culture had become mainstream, and Instagram had matured into a platform used by millions everyday, and that had made ‘influencer’ a career choice.
Kit’s belief in Pubity Group soon paid off – although he modestly puts it down to being in the right place at the right time. Meanwhile, Iyrah was building his own Memezar page, which also includes sites such as Jokezar and Gamingzar.
After discussing the businesses with Solly, Kit and Iyrah decided to merge their operations under the umbrella of Pubity Group. Solly/LADBible became an investor in the business has remained a valued mentor – and friend – to both young men as they have grown the business in the years since. Indeed, Kit says that without Solly’s help and advice, he would not have been able to build the business into what is emerging today.
Pubity Group is now a thriving international operation. The business is based in LADbible’s Manchester offices and is taking on staff, and has offices in India and the US – two markets that are huge for Pubity, along with the UK market.
The Pubity page now has 31 million followers on Instagram and Memezar has 23.4 million. There are some 30 other pages in the group on TikTok, Facebook and Twitter as well as Instagram. The business is also branching into other areas such as ecommerce and Snap shows.
The statistics for just the Pubity page are mind-boggling: in just a month it reaches more than 250 million accounts, of which 229 million are non-followers. More than 80% of viewers of the pages are aged 18-34.
Such a reach gives the page real clout in the market, and its power was shown recently when Pubity shared an Instagram reel with a homeless artist in the US and helped him to achieve his dream of seeing a painting hanging on a museum wall – and get him off the streets.
Pubity is also helping to change the way Generation Z is interacting and consuming content about the Russia/Ukraine conflict and, in some cases, giving a voice to people not otherwise included in mainstream news broadcasts. Pubity has captured information in real time from Instagram users in Ukraine and pushed it out to its followers.
A poll run by Pubity also attracted responses from 1.3 million members, with 400,000 stating their concern that the situation could escalate into a World War III-type scenario.
Pubity also used its reach to raise money for refugees fleeing the conflict and raised more than $100,000 million for the UN Refugee Agency in just a few days.
Kit and Iyrah are planning to keep building on the success of the Pubity Group and have several strategies in mind – although understandably they are keeping tight-lipped about them.
However, one of the keys is keeping up with the changes in Instagram as the network is constantly evolving and adding new features, and this is something Kit and Iyrah are always focused on.
Kit has always had the attitude that you only get out of a project what you put in. While posting content to social media might seem easy to some, there is a lot of work involved in creating and finding compelling content that grabs the interest of viewers on a daily basis. But he is happy to put the work in as he knows he has a job that many people aspire to.