In the past two weeks, YouTube star and filmmaker Casey Neistat has not only stopped producing his nearly two-year-old daily vlog -- he also sold his video-sharing app Beme to CNN in a deal reportedly valued at $25 million.
Beme’s guiding principle was authenticity. Users would film videos lasting several seconds, but they weren’t able to edit or even see the footage before sharing it. The recipient of the message could then film themselves reacting to it. All of the videos in question would instantly disappear, a bit like those on Snapchat.
The app, which launched in July 2015 and has been downloaded more than 1 million times, will officially shut down on Jan. 31, 2017. And while Beme itself will no longer be around, its team of 12 will staff a new company affiliated with CNN, with its exact mission around digital storytelling to be announced.
Neistat, 35, is also the co-creator (along with his brother) of an HBO docuseries and was an independent film producer before launching his YouTube channel in 2010. After six years, during which he’s created well-received ads for brands such as Google and Mercedes and attracted more than 5.8 million subscribers, here are five lessons from his entrepreneurial hustle.
1. No job is too small.
Neistat dropped out of high school as a teenager to take care of his son. Long before anyone knew about his films, he washed dishes in restaurants and took on an assortment of odd jobs to support his family and his moviemaking efforts.
2. Get out of your own way.
The filmmaker urges entrepreneurs not to overanalyze each move or fight what their instincts are telling them. "Thinking is the thing that prevents people from acting,” Neistat has told Entrepreneur. "Thinking is the thing that gums up the process of productivity. Your instincts are there to keep you alive. You can trust them, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship.”
3. Consistency is key.
Neistat made sure that his vlog subscribers had a new video to watch at 8 a.m. every day. If your audience or customers know that they can count on you, they will be more inclined to come back and to tell others about their positive experience.
4. When opportunity knocks, go big.
Neistat points to the short film he made for Nike's Make It Count campaign as a turning point in his career. He took a big leap, and instead of making a standard commercial, he took the budget allotted to make the FuelBand advertisement and spent it on a 10-day trip around the world. The filmed account of his adventure yielded more than 22 million views.
5. Be true to yourself.
Neistat has told Entrepreneur that taking on a partnership or project for brand is a balancing act. By taking on a side gig, he didn't want to alienate his audience of fans who were excited to see his video pop up in their feeds every morning.
"It’s a really frightening position to be in,” he said, “because you have this big fat check in front of you and oftentimes you can be asked to compromise your value or your integrity to pay the rent."
But he advised that as long as you hold onto your voice and your vision, you can't go wrong.