The Try Guys Built a Brand Loved by Millions by Not Being Afraid to Fail
Known for their viral videos dedicated to getting them out of their comfort zones, Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersberger, Zach Kornfeld and Eugene Lee Yang share what they learned from their first year in business.
With more than 2 billion views and 5.8 million subscribers and counting, Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersberger, Zach Kornfeld and Eugene Lee Yang have succeeded because of the power of trying.
Of course, that's their entire brand. The four friends are The Try Guys, creators of an award-winning comedy documentary series that has seen them get outside their comfort zones and try just about anything, from labor pain simulators to dog sledding in Alaska.
In June of 2018, the former Buzzfeed employees started their independent production company 2nd Try with the aim of creating even more projects with the philosophy that being open to new experiences just makes you a better human, and their perspective is one that has deeply resonated.
Now entering into their second year of business, the guys are about to embark on what they have dubbed The Summer of Try.
They recently launched a new podcast called, naturally, The Trypod, and their first nationwide tour, Legends of the Internet, begins on June 21 in Los Angeles. On June 18, the Try Guys will release their first book. It chronicles their experiences tackling their biggest insecurities through trial and a lot of error -- and it’s titled The Hidden Power of Fucking Up.
In a wide-ranging conversation for How Success Happens, the guys reflected on the year that was and big plans to come.Related: (Podcast) Simpsons' Star Yeardley Smith Shares Why You Should Never Let the Pursuit of Perfection Get in the Way of Enjoying the Ride
On finding great collaborators
“We have this shared vocabulary and shared understanding. But I think we make each other better in the ways that we're different. So our backgrounds are really diverse in the content we enjoy and the content that we aspire to make,” Kornfeld said. “The best version of this is that we pick up where the others maybe aren't as strong and we balance and challenge each other. I think for any creative partnership it's important to surround yourself with people that can challenge you intelligently and creatively.”
On the learning curve of being your own boss
"The biggest change when you're completely running the show is, when everything is focused around The Try Guys brand, our time management became a big challenge. We try to delegate as much as possible, yet there were still so many things that required one of us in person, either helping out, reviewing something or being on camera,” Fulmer recalled. “So finding the proper structures to be able to delegate our own work and to create a community around that, those are some big early challenges. I think trusting that other awesome creative people are going to come and take what you do and make it even better, I think that is something that is always difficult.”Related: (Podcast) Barbara Corcoran Reveals How to Not Be Afraid of Taking Risks
On the importance of failure
"There's so much growth in failure and there's a reason that we're not just the 'success guys,' we're the Try Guys. In every video, we don't master anything that we try, but that's not the point,” Habersberger explained. "By going in and simply trying and failing or doing OK, being open to a new experience and broadening your horizons just makes you a better person. We have seen it. We have become smarter, more emotional, more sensitive people as we have grown and tried the 200 things we've tried. We want to really encourage that idea to others and in all the stuff that we do. We want to keep that freshness of going into something with an open mind, being respectful, giving it your all. And if you totally suck at it, that's OK. It's not about how well you do it, it's about you learning and trying something new.”
On creating work that makes an impact
“Content isn't just a brand or message that you develop yourself and then throw out into the echo chamber. It's a mirror. And the mirror that you were reflecting back at yourself can be so well-informed, not only by your friends and family, but by the audience members, who then help lead you to understand what is most poignant for them [in terms of what you make]," Yang said. "The four of us have shifted a lot in regards to the aspects of our personalities and our stories and even the way we formulate content, from what people like, in Patreon, or what the audience have said they like about us. You never know what makes you special outside of that little thing in your head telling you what you believe. I think as you become a more open person and let others in, just in your regular life, you'll be surprised by how much you find and how you can then incorporate that into the work you put online.”
Check out the Try Guys’ five favorite videos below, and for the full conversation, take a listen to this episode of How Success Happens.
1. Why We Started A Company
"We told the story of the struggle, anxiety and ultimately rewarding success of our decision to leave BuzzFeed and start our own company, 2nd Try. It was a challenging, special time in all of our lives that is now chronicled forever."
2. The Try Guys Bake Pie Without A Recipe
"Our 22-minute pilot for a TV cooking show. It's suspenseful, funny and heavily stylized."
3. The Try Guys DUI Series
"Our first big risk as a new company, we love this series because it is a socially responsible message showcased in a hilarious way. Classic edutainment."
4. The Try Guys Try Labor Pain Simulation
"172 million views and counting, this was our most shocking exploration into motherhood."
5. The Try Guys Try Not To Die Alone
"This was our first really long video and our first branded video. It's a wonderful blend of survival information, character growth and longform storytelling that proved we could make big projects together."
Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.