Since launching his daily vlog in March 2015, Casey Neistat has amassed over 7 million subscribers, sold his startup to CNN and has become the face of a new generation of YouTube stars. And he sold an HBO show before all of that for $2 million.
But, like all great stories, Neistat’s early career was plagued with setbacks. The now 36-year-old didn’t follow the traditional path.
In the 10th grade Neistat dropped out of high school, got his high school girlfriend pregnant and lived in a trailer park. During that time, Neistat worked as a dishwasher and collected welfare.
Three years later, his girlfriend dumped him. So, with $800 bucks and a camera to his name, Neistat packed up and headed to the concrete jungle of New York City.
It was there he discovered his passion: filmmaking. Neistat had a camera, his buddy had a computer. They started filming everything and anything.
And then, Casey’s iPod died…
In 2003, after Neistat’s iPod broke 18 months after purchasing it, he created a video called ‘‘iPod’s Dirty Little Secret.” The opening scene featured a phone call between Neistat and Apple customer service. They told him that he’d be better off buying a new iPod rather than getting his defunct iPod battery replaced.
Something to keep in mind here…
Having a video go viral in 2003 was a big deal. This was pre-social networking days. No YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.
In its first month, Neistat’s video had over 6 million views and was picked up by the Washington Post, Rolling Stone Magazine, Fox News, CBS News, and BBC News. Shortly after the film launched, Apple announced a new battery replacement policy for the iPod.
Neistat continued honing in on his craft and in 2008 caught the attention of HBO with an eight episode series fittingly called ‘The Neistat Brothers’ and featured short stories about Casey and his brother Van. HBO liked it so much that they bought the series for $2 million dollars.
With a handful of wins, Neistat was on the fast track to becoming a recognized Hollywood producer. However, he grew tired of bureaucracy.
So, in 2011 he turned to YouTube where he could make and share any film he wanted with millions of people with the click of a button.
One of Casey’s early YouTube hits was titled ‘Bike Lanes.’ It documented the day he was given a citation for riding his bike outside of the bike lane in New York City. The video went viral and was so popular that Michael Bloomberg had to address it in a press conference.
We could go on and on about Casey’s viral hits, but perhaps one his most influential videos to date was…
Make it count
Imagine telling Nike, an advertising client of yours, that you’re going to blow through their entire commercial budget to travel around the world.
Bold move, huh?
That’s exactly what Neitstat did. With his buddy Max, Neistat captured over 29 hours of footage and pieced together a 4 minute edit on what “make it count” meant to them.
It worked…the video had over 790,000 views in its first day and became one of most popular Nike ads ever (to date, it has over 25 million views). If you’re needing a little inspiration, check it out.
In March 2015, Neistat began what he is best known for: his daily vlog. He produced a short video (8-10min) every day for over a year and a half, documenting everyday life from hanging out with his son to flying in a 21k first class plane seat.
To say the vlog took off would be a massive understatement. Neistat’s channel grew like a cult, gaining over 7 million subscribers and making him one of YouTube’s most influential creators. And then, in year, Neistat launched Beme, a video sharing app that was acquired by CNN in 2016.
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Casey said, “I want to build a news company. It’s going to be video exclusive. It’s going to be done in a way that penetrates the thick, strong, solid-steel bullshit shield that this generation cautiously holds up in between them and everything being thrown at them.”
Come hear Casey share his story
We’re big fans of penetrating the bullshit shield of news at The Hustle, so, we’re excited to see Casey’s news company take shape, but we’re even more excited to have him speak at Hustle Con on June 23rd in Oakland.
At Hustle Con, Casey will teach how he went from being a high school dropout to a household name with over 7 million YouTube subscribers.
If you wanna learn how Casey did it, get yourself a ticket today.