You might not know who Jake Paul is, but your kids probably do.
He first rose to fame by posting funny videos on Vine, where he achieved rapid success, gaining one million followers in just five months. He soon had a wildly successful YouTube channel and started appearing in TV shows and movies. In 2015 he got his big break, starring in the Disney Channel sitcom, Bizaardvark.
The 20-year social media star turned actor now has more than 15 million followers on social media, affectionately known as Jake Paulers, who follow his every move. He has over 6 million followers on his YouTube channel, where his videos get millions of views daily.
But he’s much more than your average YouTuber.
He has a social media company, with investors such as Gary Vaynerchuk. He formed a social media incubator,Team 10, where he spots talent and shows them how to maximize their reach and partner with brands. He’s written and produced a movie, starring the biggest influencers in the game. Last week he decided to release a song, “It’s Everyday Bro”, which peaked at Number 2 on the iTunes charts.
Is there anything this kid can’t do?
I had a chance to sit down with Jake, to talk about social media, the future of influencer marketing and the business of being Jake Paul.
Tom Ward: So how’d you start out doing this?
Jake Paul: I come from a small town in Ohio and was always into sports. My brother and I started filming our games to see how we could get better. Then we just started filming us doing dumb stuff and got into YouTube and starting putting our videos on there. We didn’t get much traction. Then I heard about Vine and downloaded it the first day it came out, and we started making short videos. We figured out a formula that worked and kept doing it.
Ward: When did you realize that this could be a career?
Paul: I got a call from someone who was having a Vine event in Texas and wanted me to come. I was 16. He offered me $800 and a plane ticket and a hotel room. My parents looked into it to see if it was legit, which it was, so I went. When I got there, there were like hundreds of fans outside the hotel that were there to see us. They all knew my name. It made me realize how big things got.
Ward: Then you moved to LA?
Paul: Not immediately, but yeah. I started taking acting and improv classes, making connections, and still doing the video thing. I also wrote and produced a movie, starring big influencers. It’s called Airplane Mode. It’s coming out this year. Everyone is in it: King Bach, Lele Pons, Amanda Cerny, Casey Neistat, Roman Atwood, Chloe Bridges, and Nick Swardson. It’s cool because we could never make it now because everyone got so big and has an agent, publicist, etc. So, I got some acting roles and then Disney called and wanted me to be in a show. I was stoked because of the Marvel angle. Since Disney owns Marvel, I figured it would be a good way to get visibility. I always wanted to be a superhero and play the hero or the villain.
Ward: You also formed a sort of influencer crew around that time.
Paul: It’s called Team 10. It’s really an incubator for social media talent. We take people who have a lot of potential and teach them how to make content, produce it, etc. Then we move them into the house and we all collaborate. We’ve taken people with 5,000 followers and they’ve literally had millions of followers in a month. Then we show them how to monetize with brand deals, merchandise, and ad revenue. It’s like that Drake lyric where he talks about how his music is a blueprint for a career. It’s kind of like that. Like, I’ve went from zero followers to millions, and I can show people how to do the same thing. I formed it because I wanted to start a crew. If you look at the biggest people on social media right now, it’s the Kardashians. My goal is to form a crew that’s bigger than them collectively. It might take us five years, but we’ll get there.
Ward: You’ve also got a social media company.
Paul: It’s called Team Dom. It stands for Teen Entertainment and Media Kingdom. We want to be at the forefront of engaging the teen market. We’re focused on building brands, celebrities, and businesses. We’ve got over 30 million followers and 6 billion views.
Ward: You’ve got Gary Vayerchuk as an investor! How’d you pull that off?
Paul: As soon as I talked to Gary about what I was doing, he immediately understood and wanted to be involved. Gary has had tremendous experience in social media, so he understood our power and value.
Ward: How about your other investors?
Paul: We’ve got Angel List, Binary Capital, Danhua Capital, and more angels.
Ward: You’ve also got a VC fund. Tell me about that.
Paul: It’s called TGZ Capital. It stands for Team Gen Z. I formed it with Cameron Dallas and Patrick Finnegan. I saw all these celebrity VC funds, like Joe Montana’s or Ashton’s or whoever, and they really don’t do anything except write a check. So I figured why not start my own influencer fund? I’ll get investors and invest in our own startups. Every startup needs social media strategy, eyeballs and an Instagram page. We’ve already got that figured out.
Ward: Where’d you get this entrepreneurial drive? Who do you look up to in business?
Paul: I studied everyone in the business of entertainment: Dr. Dre, Diddy, everyone. Rob Dyrdek was big for me. He would get 2 million views a week on Rob and Big and from that sprung everything: DC shoes, Monster Energy, Fantasy Factory, everything. I get 6 million views a week. I figured with those kinds of numbers, I could do the same kind of thing.
Ward: I’ve interviewed a lot of influencers but none have the business ambition that you do. What makes you different from them?
Paul: A lot of them are lazy. You wrote an article where you said that a lot of people think that influencers sleep until noon and that’s kind of true. They’re cool with a nice car, or some money in the bank or being able to get in the backdoor at 1 Oak or something. I’m never satisfied. It was just the 20th anniversary of Bad Boy Records and they’re still talking about Biggie. I want people talking about me when I’m gone.
Ward: Where do you see the influencer business headed?
Paul: I think a lot of it is too shortsighted. It’s like when Nike signed Lebron at 18 to a ten-year contract. They had a long-term strategy with him. Brands don’t have that sort of vision when it comes to influencers. I also think it’s capping out. There’s only so much room at the top and it’s becoming harder for someone starting out to grow quickly organically.
Ward: What advice do you have for other YouTubers out there that are starting out?
Paul: You're only one video away from going viral and changing your life. If you were training for the NFL and were only one-tenth of a second off from making the team, would you stop training? No. You shouldn't stop making videos just because you haven't made it yet. I was at the store the other day, getting a protein shake, and a kid came up to me and told me he was funny and should be in Team 10. I asked him if he had a YouTube channel and he said no. I laughed. It's like walking up to a director and saying, “Hey, I'm ready to be in your movie now,” without ever working at it. Do you think Leo DiCaprio just got out of bed one day and became an Oscar-winning actor without putting the work in?
Ward: What are influencers getting wrong?
Paul: Making too many brand deals, missing scheduled posts! This drives me crazy. A lot of influencers will have posting days, like Monday, Wednesday and Friday where they have to make a sponsored post. And they miss them! This is your job and it’s literally the only thing you have to do that day — and you can’t even do that?
Ward: Any words for the people who think they can do what you do?
Paul: To be the best, you've got to beat the best. I've been making videos for the past ten years, so if someone wants to knock me off, they’d better bring it.
This article originally appeared in Forbes on June 13, 2017. For original article click here.