Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. I am really big about talking to founders about dollars and cents to the point where sometimes they want to hit me, but I have to stick with what I’m comfortable with. At the same time, I have to give myself some freedom to go outside my comfort zone and I feel today I’m going outside my comfort zone.
We are about to listen to an entrepreneur talk to us about how he is creating the next generation of monsters. He is Jack Davis. He is the founder of CryptTV. They’re like Marvel for monsters. They’re creating the next generation of monsters, you know, the next Frankenstein, the ones that are going to outlive us in many ways. They just happen to be using social sites like YouTube and Facebook to create those monsters and promote them.
And I feel like this is the future, and I feel like this is the kind of interview that I’m going to do today, and 10 years from now, people are going to say, “How the hell did you get Jack Davis on?” And the answer is, “Well, I got him back when he was just a guy with a few million views.” Still really impressive, but I think it’s a small drop in the bucket compared to where he’s going to go. I invited him here to talk about how he’s doing this, why he’s doing this, can he really take on Hollywood? And to learn a little bit about what’s happening with content promotion and content creation online.
Boy, I’m ripping through this intro, Jack. I’ve got to talk a little slower. This interview is sponsored by two great companies. The first will host your website right. It’s called HostGator. And the second will help you send out smart email marketing. It’s called ActiveCampaign. I’ll tell you more about those later. Jack, welcome.
Jack: Thank you so much, Andrew. And I thought… I love how you talk fast. You’re thinking fast, you’re talking fast, and thank you for hosting me.
Andrew: And still people will text me and tell me that they’re using 2x speed to listen to my podcasts.
Jack: Well, I think that’s because they’re not on 2x speed, but you’re talking so fast they think they’re on 2x speed.
Andrew: I see.
Jack: So I think it’s just a little mix-up.
Andrew: Hey, you’re not as excited about numbers as I am, but give me a sense of how big the company is. Monthly views, how much do you have?
Jack: In the fourth quarter of 2017 we averaged about 80 million viewers, but December of 2017 was our biggest month ever. Facebook is really pushing this new tool, Show Pages. And our Crypt Monsters show page, and you know we really care about monsters, had over 110 million unique organic views. So we like to break records here, I like numbers the way you do, and I hope that January 2018 ends up beating December 2017 as our biggest month because if we’re not growing, we’re dying.
So 80 million average last quarter, including just one of our show pages pushed over 110 million unique organic views, and all on monsters, the way we like it.
Andrew: You know, I’ve got one of the episodes, season 2, episode 3 of a show called “17.” It’s one of your shows. Dude, this is incredibly well produced. We’re looking at a six and a half minute show, but how much money goes into producing an episode that’s this polished and feels like something that would come off of old TV?
Jack: Well, thank you for the compliment. We really care about production quality here because to really feel invested in the scare and in a monster, that visual is so important for a monster. Think about how we identify with Freddy Krueger or Frankenstein, so production quality matters, but Crypt wins by being fast and efficient. So we don’t usually talk about how much the average short costs, but I know you care about numbers and I’m so happy to be on here. I will tell you, we’re making things in the four-figure range when we’re testing something.
We can create episodes very, very, cheaply. And then the great thing about Crypt is since we have our audience, we only grow it and then potentially grow our production costs after we know our audience has already taken to it.
Andrew: Does it bother you that a guy like Jake Paul will then have millions of views and it seems like all he’s doing is holding his iPhone or his camera phone like that and vlogging, when you’re spending so much time on story, on production, etc.?
Jack: It doesn’t bother me because I think it’s different genres, you know. I look at entertainment, TV, film. There’s reality TV, there’s comedy, there’s drama, there’s scary. We started this company wanting to be scary for the next generation. There’s been amazing scary movies, amazing scary television. We want to fill the role of scary, in-ways people love content now. So I actually love, you know, that Jake Paul’s so successful and people like that, because he’s creating his own brand of content. The great thing, I think, about the internet and digital content is there’s room for everyone. You’re competing for time. There’s not only… It’s not linear. It’s not, “Oh, this show on at 8:00. Or do I watch the NBC show at 8:00 or the CBS show?” So I actually think Jake Paul’s doing stuff that his audience loves, and it’s up to us to actually grow our monsters for our audience and make something that lasts.
Andrew: All right. What I’m trying to understand in this interview and we’re going to let it happen over time is, how you get these viewers? How do you know what to create? How you put this whole thing together. But let’s go back a little bit to understand where you came from. I told you I was looking at your LinkedIn profile and I said, “Well, what business were you in before? All I see is like a summer intern before Crypt TV,” and it’s because you were in school.
Andrew: Studying what?
Jack: I studied sociology and political science in school, but I have to tell you I wish I could’ve been a better student because I also studied a lot of sleeping and a lot of having a good time at school. But technically, sociology and political science.
Andrew: That’s basically what everyone did. And while you were in school, you met…
Jack: Yeah, I did a lot of it.
Andrew: You met Eli Roth in school?
Jack: Yeah. I met… Have you ever seen the movie “Inglourious Basterds?”
Jack: So Eli plays the Bear Jew. You know, he beats the guy with the baseball bat.
Jack: So I met Eli when I was in school. I sit down. I sit next to him and I say, “Oh, shit. You’re Eli Roth?” He’s like, “Yeah, I’m Eli Roth.” And I said, “Teddy f-ing Williams knocks it out of the park. Then we had [inaudible 00:05:52] for Teddy f-ing ball game. He would yardo on that one, all the way onto Lansdowne Street,” which is his speech from “Inglourious Basterds.” And he’s like, “How did you know that speech so well?” And at the time I was in college, so I said, “Well, I’m in a fraternity and when we do pledging we get pledge names, and that was the kid in line’s next to me’s name,” and he thought it was the funniest thing.
So we called my pledge brother and they did the speech back and forth to each other. So after that I just said, “Gosh, Eli Roth. You’re the coolest dude I’ve ever met.” And we kept up a friendship and then when it came time to start Crypt, we became partners.
Andrew: And he’s really big in the horror space. Right? He’s a producer…
Jack: He’s huge. He’s huge.
Andrew: …director, writer.
Jack: That was the impetus for him being interested in us being partners. He directed this movie “Cabin Fever,” which was big. And then he really blew up with “Hostel” and he also was the writer, so he became this, like, iconic figure in that community which is a very passionate community. So a lot of the way Crypt grew initially was off his brand and this guy endorsing it. And even though he is someone who’s had success in TV and film, he was always interested in digital so he had the interest in, oh what’s the future of how people are watching. And then he was a great partner and lent his brand name to help Crypt get off the ground.
Andrew: And at the time, you sat next to him and you told him, “Here’s my vision. We need monsters online.” Is that right?
Jack: So when I sat next to him we just did the speech and became friends, and then we kept the dialogue going. And by the time I graduated college, which was May 2014, I saw the rise of digital. Now, I grew up…
Andrew: Sorry. Forgive me. Why would he stay in touch with you? I’m looking at his Wikipedia page. He’s got so much going on. Why would he stay in touch with a student?
Jack: I guess it just has to be my charisma and charm, but if it wasn’t that, I would say it’s this is a person interested in the future. We would talk about projects, right? We would talk about like apps and this and the way to do it, and we couldn’t really just find the right thing to make work until I actually graduated from college and we realized that short-form video would be a way to combine his interest in the future and scary and was an open market.
Andrew: I see. You know what? Now I know what it is that I remember about him. Howard Stern did “Private Parts.” He was like an assistant working right out… Howard Stern told this story forever. He goes, “You know,” he said to Robin once, “the guy who was sitting outside my door while I was sleeping in between shoots on ‘Private Parts’ was this guy who was writing a script.” It turns out it’s Eli Roth. That was his beginning. I see. Okay. So maybe you feel like he saw some of you in him?
Jack: I hope so. Eli is obviously very successful, so I hope he saw some of me in him and maybe he did. But I would say that Eli’s just also a guy interested in the future, and as a student I grew up using the iPhone. So to the current class of Hollywood, and that’s kind of why I think this shift in how people are consuming content is happening and why this opportunity, because Eli is a guy who grew up on VHS and filming camcorders. So instead of being scared by the fact that people were moving away from movies and TV and using the phone he was interested in it.
So I hope he saw some of himself in me, but I think he also saw someone who was growing up on a different generation of entertainment and he wanted to understand that.
Andrew: You also have a sense of self. Before the interview started I told you, “I don’t have enough here to do an interview.” A lot of people would have shrunk from that and, or fought back in an awkward way. You said, “You know, Andrew, this is your place. If you don’t have enough to tell your story we can do it again, or maybe we don’t even have to do it,” but you also didn’t shrink from it. You have a sense of confidence. Where did that come from?
Jack: You know, I am really loving to talking to you, Andrew, so you’re making me open up. That’s probably why you do such a good job on your podcast, because I’ve seen it…
Andrew: But at the beginning the first thing I hit you with was there’s not enough in the pre-interview notes. I don’t think we should do this interview. Be open. Do you have enough self-awareness to realize where this came from, how you got this way?
Jack: It came from the fact that I have an amazing mother, and I have an amazing father too who I love, but my mom never let me be cocky as a kid. I think, you know, my mom has immigrant parents, and my mom takes a lot of pride in being a first generation American…
Andrew: From where?
Jack: And she might… My mom’s parents were from Denmark and Morocco, and then my mom grew up in Long Island. And I remember like kind of started my whole life, what started my whole career is I finished sixth grade. So I literally finished sixth grade, and I grew up in Los Angeles and I grew up very fortunate. And I remember waking up one morning in the summer. So after sixth grade before seventh grade and my mom said, “Where are you working?” She shook me, woke me up, and she said, “Where are you working this summer?” I’m like, “Mom, what are you talking about? I’m 12 years old.” And she said, “No child of mine is going to be lazy and isn’t going to work.”
And in kind of the spirit of that my mom always taught me like, “Don’t think you’re somebody because of what you come from or because of who your parents might be. You’re somebody because of who you are, and in line with that, you’re not so successful. You’re not too good to work.” So when you were saying to me at the beginning like you referenced, “Oh, is there enough here,” you’re running a very successful podcast. You do a very good job. It’s up to you to decide whether you think people are best. Just because I have a company or investor, I haven’t made it yet. I’m not where I want to be, so who am I to tell you that I’m worth it? I have to go prove that, and also until I do I don’t think I have a right to stand on anything, and that comes from my mom always drilling into me humility. You need to work. You can’t ask for people. You have to go work and show people. So I think that’s how I…that’s how you have to look at it.
Andrew: Did you end up starting some kind of business in school where you…
Andrew: …[inaudible 00:11:07]? What was this business?
Jack: So it actually started even younger. That job my mom made me get, no one would hire a 12-year old. So I went back to my elementary school and worked at the basketball camp as just like for free, as an assistant, right? And they shut down the camp the following summer, so my summer after seventh grade when I was 13 they said, “We’re not doing the camp anymore,” and it really upset me because I loved doing it. And because my mom said, “You have to get a job,” and I couldn’t think anywhere else would hire me.
So I said, “Mom, can I bring the camp to our backyard?” and my mom said, “Okay, you can bring the camp to the backyard. I will give you a loan to buy an extra basketball hoop and extra basketballs, but that’s it.” So I then actually picked up the phone, because this was like 2005 or 2004, and I took, you know, like the school directory. Did your school have that? Like, you know…
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah.
Jack: …a directory of all the parents’ names? So I took the school directory and I just started calling up parents who I taught their kids the previous summer. And I said, “Hey, I know JTD is shutting down the camp, but I’m going to start one in my backyard. Your son or daughter should come.” And I had two little sisters, one who’s three years younger than me and one who’s six years younger than me. So when I was finishing seventh grade one was going to be in fifth grade and one was going to be in second grade.
So I also called every single person in their grade and said, “I’m Catherine Davis’ brother,” or, “I’m Jensen Davis’ brother. JTD is not doing their summer camp. I’m doing it in my backyard.” And I actually for five summers ran a basketball camp in my parents’ backyard. I paid my mom her loan back, and I hired my friends to be camp counselors and I ran it for five years before I did any… That was like my first ever business.
Andrew: I see. Wowee. All right. I get it and I get why before the interview started you said, “Andrew I’m going to be careful not to curse.” I said, “Curse?” You said, “My mom’s going to be listening. She’s not going to like it.” Your mom really will be listening to this?
Jack: My mom reads and listens to every single thing that I do, and I don’t think I’m at a level of success yet where… I mean, I’ve done some fun stuff, but the more I…
Andrew: Are you more successful than your brother and sister?
Jack: Well, I don’t have a brother. I have two little sisters, and…
Andrew: Oh, two sisters. Are you more successful than your sisters?
Jack: I’m older than them. I’m 26, my youngest sister Catherine… Or my middle sister Catherine’s 22, and my baby sister Jensen’s 20, so I have a bit of a year’s age on them, a little years gap. But they will be more successful than me and I’m glad because I’m a very proud brother and I think they’re both infinitely better than me, so they certainly will be. I don’t know if they are now. I don’t know if I can judge that, but I know they will be.
Andrew: All right. So you have this idea, bring in this new genre to the internet and it really hasn’t been explored that much online from what I’ve seen.
Andrew: The first step you take is what?
Jack: We first needed to test the idea. Me and Eli’s entire conversations were built around, “No one’s doing scary for digital.” Scary has been a part of our culture since forever. I mean, Frankenstein, this is like 1920 and Freddy Krueger in the ’70s. So we knew scary had always been a part of the cultural fabric of American entertainment and the economic. It always had an economic role. So we said, “Let’s try and bring it to the phone,” but first, we had to see would it work? So we did this contest called “Six Second Scare” and this is October 2014.
And we really didn’t know if it would work. It was just a real test to see can people make scary content for the phone? Will people enjoy it? So we got six judges. Eli got them all and we said, “Okay. Upload your scariest six second video to Vine. Six judges, six prizes, with the number one prize being Eli will work on your idea with you,” and the thing blew up, Andrew. I mean, we got over 15,000 submissions. Eli ended up on “Good Morning America” talking about “Six Second Scare,” and while of course it going insane viral was fun, more importantly, it actually proved to us people will make great scary content on digital and people will enjoy content on digital.
We thought, “We know you can make someone laugh on the phone. Can you scare them?” and the answer was, “Yes.” Jason Blum saw what we were doing. He’s obviously an insanely successful producer, “Paranormal Activity,” “Purge,” “Get Out,” “Split.” He saw what we were doing. He agreed to become our initial investor and that’s what sparked us even starting this company.
Andrew: How much did he invest?
Jack: That is private, but I will say that he was our first investor and that took us all the way to our most recent round, which we did in February 2017. And Jason’s been more than an investor, frankly. He’s an incredible strategic partner and mentor.
Andrew: The videos, “Six Second Stare,” are they still online? They are, aren’t they?
Jack: I think you can find them. You know, it’s… I should probably have the answer to this. Like we had a site that hosted them. I don’t know if that site is still up, but…
Andrew: The one that I saw is linking to something else anyway.
Jack: Yeah. We should put that up. You might inspire me because of this conversation to have our team put that back up because we got some great… You know, our content now is longer. You complimented our production quality very kindly, so now we’re making more like five and six minute episodes. But those six second scares will, of course, have a place in my heart because there is no Crypt TV without the “Six Second Scare” contest.
Andrew: All right. So now, you’ve tested it and it makes sense. People are interested in creating it and can create it. People are interested in watching it. In many ways that’s more important. You’ve raised money. It’s time now to develop your idea.
Jack: Launch it.
Andrew: Once you did that what’s the first step you took? And I know that it didn’t work out, so talk to me about the first step.
Jack: The first step I took was hiring my chief content officer. She did not start as my chief content officer, but our first hire, I knew it had to be content. I hired this amazing young girl, Kate Krantz. She was working at Disney. She had been at WME. She knew the systems, filmmakers, brought her on. She’s since become the chief content officer. I also hired Darren Brandl who is an independent producer who had actually produced horror movies. He’s now our chief operating officer and they both started as like director of content, director of business.
We closed the round from Blum in March of 2015. We launched the company in April 2015 and we quickly learned it’s kind of hard to make a dent on the internet. So I would say from April 2015 to July 2015, which is like 4 months, right? We kind of sputtered along, trying to get people to notice our content. And I can’t tell you that in those first four or five months that anyone really noticed.
Andrew: Did you publish on YouTube… Excuse me, on Facebook at the time?
Jack: Yes. So April 2015 when we launched, that’s when Facebook Video was making noise. They were actually just even moving into video at all, and I thought, “Hey, everyone has launched their kind of digital media companies on YouTube. Let’s zig when everyone else zags and launch on Facebook.” So we were able to get probably a little more noise than we would have on YouTube. We went Facebook exclusive for a long time. We actually didn’t even start publishing to YouTube ’till August of 2017, so we really feel like two plus years, we’re just Facebook. Even with that, from April to July in our first four months at the company, like literally almost nobody was watching.
Andrew: I’m looking at Facebook’s video timeline on Wikipedia. You really were starting out just as they were making a push into the space, and well, I want to come back in a moment and ask you why people weren’t watching and what you did that wasn’t working in those months. Because it looks like at the time, Facebook was promoting those videos. They were trying to help…
Jack: Oh, they were.
Andrew: …makers like you. All right. But the first of the two sponsors that I said I was going to talk about is a company called… Why don’t I talk about ActiveCampaign first? You know ActiveCampaign or am I about to blow your mind?
Jack: You’re going to blow my mind.
Andrew: Oh. Oh, I’m excited that I get to be the one to blow your mind. Do you guys do email marketing? You do, don’t you? Yeah, you asked me…
Jack: We do.
Andrew: To subscribe.
Jack: Or maybe we need a new… Maybe we should know about a company like ActiveCampaign who could maybe do it better.
Andrew: You know what? Let me see. Do you know how big your email list is? Probably not.
Jack: Actually, I don’t.
Andrew: See? That’s the weird thing, that you’re so into new media that this old piece of technology, which is email, is probably not on your radar and it could be huge. Here’s what ActiveCampaign does. Most services will let you just send out email and say, “Hey, we’ve got a new episode of the show. Come watch it.” What ActiveCampaign will allow you to do is say, “If somebody is watching every episode this weekend of one of our shows all the way to the end, why don’t we send them an offer for merch so that it doesn’t feel excessive? If somebody is watching one type of show why don’t we tell them that there’s another one that’s related to it? Because now it’s not going to feel like excessive email, but it’s going to be, ‘You like this? You should be paying attention to that.'”
That’s what I mean by smart marketing automation. It’s marketing, it’s smart, and it’s automated so that you intelligently decide when people should see what, set it, and you step back and watch the numbers. Then if it doesn’t work out you can adjust it and say, “You know what? It turns out people who like this one show might actually prefer this other show instead. Let’s try to email them about that.” So, most email systems will let you just send out email, the same email to everyone because that’s your weekly newsletter.
Some will let you customize this way but they become too difficult to set up, too much maintenance to operate, and I got examples of those but I probably shouldn’t talk about their competitors in this ad. What ActiveCampaign decided to do was give everyone the power of email marketing automation and make it so easy that anyone in the company can manage it. If you guys are out there listening and you’re interested and frankly, even if you’re out at Crypt TV or maybe you’re Jack’s mom listening, and you think that Jack needs a new piece of technology to help him engage his audience, you shouldn’t go to www.activecampaign.com. Instead, you should go to the special URL I’m about to give you because they’re going to give you a free trial of the software on that URL.
You’re going to get your second month free on that URL. You’re going to get one consultation with an expert who’s going to help you set it up, and then again, another consultation with an expert who’s going to make sure that you’re setting it up right and answer any one of your questions. That’s two consultations with experts who will help you do this right. And finally, if you’re with another email provider like Jack is and you want to migrate over, they will do it for you for free. They’ll move you from whatever software you’re with to ActiveCampaign. And that special URL is activecampaign.com/mixergy. Activecampaign.com/mixergy.
I’m especially aware of my performance when I work with you, when I’m interviewing you because you’re the guy who judges performers all the time.
Jack: You did a great job though, and now I’m going to… Next time I go to my parents’ house, my mom’s going to have the Mixergy link from Active email and she… Because, you know, you asked me does she listen to everything I do, and I didn’t tell you this part, but she doesn’t just listen, she critiques me.
Andrew: She does?
Jack: Because she’s going to… Oh, she critiques me really hard. So she’s like, “Do you know about this? Why did you not know about ActiveCampaign before you went on the podcast?” So she’s in…
Andrew: Wow, you know what? I think I would like that. I’m the kind of person who wants to constantly improve. I think I would like it if my mom had good feedback to give me. Does your mom actually have good, useful stuff?
Jack: I think that sometimes I disagree with her. She thinks it’s always useful. I definitely think at least she’s always coming at a different perspective. Sometimes useful, yes. Sometimes maybe we disagree, but she’s certainly always passionate, so she always has a strong opinion.
Andrew: I looked it up. You guys use MailChimp. I’m sorry to say, I think you should switch away from MailChimp.They’re really nice people, really nicely designed site, but all they do is they let you easily send out the same newsletter to everyone, in a more complicated way do some marketing automation, but you guys could send out, like, way more customized messages using ActiveCampaign.
Jack: You really might be swaying me and the great thing is I’m going to use your URL, so…
Jack: …this could be… I know that you’ve had some great guests and done some great podcasts, but you could actually use this to actually convert customers, so this could be a great one.
Andrew: Funny because, no I did it from not ever publishing any of these interviews, it’s just like my way of reaching out to one person at a time and sell Toptal or ActiveCampaign or whatever.
Jack: This whole thing has been a, just a front to just change email subscriber lists, and maybe it’s been a pretty good front.
Andrew: You know, I do think it’s not a bad idea. I bet someone out there is going to be doing… Actually, I know someone. Dude, Jacks, there’s someone in my audience who saw me do interviews like this who said, “Andrew’s getting to talk to these brilliant people one at a time. I’m going to do an interview too. Who cares how many people are listening? I just talked to that one person and it convinced them to work with my company.” And he’s telling me his numbers, he’s doing pretty well.
Jack: Well, and you can talk so fast, you can sell a lot of people on email campaigns.
Andrew: All right. Things weren’t working for you. Analyze for me that period. Why weren’t you able to get more viewers at that period? In retrospect, what’d you learn?
Jack: In retrospect we learned two things. One, you need to have a very clear brand voice. We’ve become very clear with our brand voice now. We’re trying to create the next generation of monsters. We’re Marvel for monsters and we’re building on the phone instead of the comic book. We know that. If I showed you our office, it’s adorned with pictures of our best monsters. We’re trying to grow those best monsters and bring in new ones.
At the beginning we didn’t have that. We knew we wanted to do scary content, but does that mean we do thriller? Does that mean we do, like, slow burn? Does that mean we do jump scares? We didn’t actually have a brand voice. So when the internet’s so big and you don’t have a specific brand voice, you can’t really build audience and you actually don’t know how to attract people with high quality content. And the second point why we didn’t do so well at the beginning with traffic I think is ego. I think, you know, you referenced how, oh, we’re making these beautiful, high quality videos.
I think content creators can fall into a trap of, “I love my stuff, therefore other people will love my stuff.” And we had a whole kind of, like, library of content before we launched. That’s what we were doing between meeting Jason Blum who became our investor in end of October 2014, and before we’d launched in April 2015. We warehoused all this content. We were just going to come out of the gates with a bang. And what you learn is you’re not making these videos for yourself, you’re making them for the audience.
So just because you think they’re great, because your production quality is high, that’s arrogance. So I think we didn’t have enough of a brand voice and we had a little arrogance of because we liked the videos, therefore they will do well and people will notice. There’s a large supply of content on the internet. You can’t assume that you are going to do well just because you like the content.
Andrew: Sorry. I hit mute by accident.
Andrew: In retrospect… Very unprofessional move.
Jack: I was like, “Oh, my God. He hated my answers so much that he just never wanted to talk to me ever again.
Andrew: I’m never going to respond. In retrospect, what you should have done, you’re saying is created a little bit, published it, gotten feedback, adjust and kept creating with feedback. Is that right?
Jack: I agree. On one hand, of course, I’m biased but I would say in retrospect we needed that lesson because that pain sometimes actually teaches you and motivates you. But, yeah. We should have created more and released it and we shouldn’t have thought we knew so… Because we built up a pretty big library of content before we released. We built like a whole three-month programming calendar before we launched that April, and that’s where I think the arrogance is. The arrogance is of, without even getting audience feedback, we know what’s going to work.
And I agree. What we should have done is what you said, which is just released a little bit of content as it came in to learn and adjust more instead of assuming that we could make content before launching and it would just perform off the bat.
Andrew: I’m looking at old screen caps of your site. What was RIP which was banned on Facebook and did Facebook ban one of your shows?
Jack: As long as we’re being honest, I wouldn’t say Facebook banned one of our shows. I would say that it wasn’t approved for ads and then we tried to use, you know, that phrasing band.
Andrew: To promote it.
Jack: I actually think RIP is a great show. The creators behind it are very talented, Lorraine and Lena. But again, when we say that I tell you one thing we did wrong, we didn’t have our brand voice yet. That show I think would perform amazing on maybe BuzzFeed, or maybe one of Vice’s verticals. But the show, which is this great idea about, kind of, like fantasy ways to get back at your ex in animation, that really isn’t monsters. That isn’t scary. So I think initially, we were attracted to great ideas instead of thinking, “What are the brand we’re trying to build?”
Because the truth is if you’re trying to be something for everything, unless you have complete scale you’re actually something for nobody. So RIP is actually a perfect example to pull up because it’s a great piece of content from great creators that just because we liked we didn’t think about, “Is this the brand we’re going to build and the audience we’re going to attract? Can we actually do what’s right for this property?”
Andrew: So how’d you figure out what that brand voice was? How did you figure out what you should create?
Jack: Well, failure is one way we found out what that brand voice was as I referenced those months. We had a bit of a breakthrough in July of 2015. We did this thing called Snapchat Murder Mystery. We invited 10 influencers to a house. And we acted like it was real where, oh, they snapped on their way, “Look, I’m on my way to this mansion party. What is it?” When they got there we confiscated all their phones, and then they start dying one by one. The last person who dies, you realize someone must have faked their death along the way.
And then we said, “You have 24 hours to figure out who the killer is,” because it’s Snapchat. It’s going to disappear. That was huge. We got a ton of Snapchat followers, but that actually taught us a lesson bigger than just Snapchat. It taught us that if we are going to succeed we need to innovate within the format, right? What made that cool is we made it local Snapchat. We didn’t do it to promote something bigger. We tried to make a great story tailored to social.
And I think that was a real lesson for the company because it goes back to that other point I was making of, we’re not making stories for us. We’re trying to tell great scary stories that can perform really well on these platforms, and then it kind of helped inform the rest of our content. But even after that we didn’t start getting consistent traffic, until probably a year after our launch, until April 2016.
Andrew: I mentioned a vlogger earlier, his brother Logan Paul, he was one of the influencers. Did you have to pay Logan…
Jack: He was.
Andrew: Did you pay the others to show up or was it just, “I’m doing this thing and Eli Roth is involved?”
Jack: This was… Look. Logan’s career has, you know, skyrocketed since then. I don’t think… And all the influencers we worked with in the Snapchat Murder Mystery have careers that have skyrocketed, so I don’t think we could have gotten everyone to do it for free now ever and they’re very valuable talent. But back then, you know, it’s kind of the earlier days so we got everyone just to show up, you know. We didn’t monetize it either. We didn’t sell a brand sponsorship, the company, and that’s kind of, I think, how we got people to buy in.
We just said, “Hey, let’s do something fun and innovative,” and we worked with great directors. This team, Culprit Creative who directed it, so everyone just kind of showed up and did it for fun.
Andrew: So I see the numbers on it. I’m looking at an old Variety article from July 2015…
Jack: ’15, yeah.
Andrew: Right? I bet your mom has it clipped out. “Seven hundred and fifty thousand people by then had already opened it on Snapchat,” which I guess is… It’s Snapchat, it expires pretty fast, so that’s a…
Jack: it does.
Andrew: That’s representative of the overall numbers, but what did that mean? What did it… First of all, how did you get that many people to know that they were doing it? I guess, did Logan Paul and the others, did they promote it?
Jack: All the influencers… Yeah. We had 10 influencers participate if I remember correctly. It was either 10 or around 10. They all Snapped, “Follow Crypt TV to follow the story.” Because that was like the plot device we used. We used the plot device of, “Hey, I’m on my way to this party. Follow Crypt TV to track the party,” and once they got there, they all Snapped their phones being confiscated, which then funneled all the traffic to our channel.
Andrew: All right. And then how does that connect… How does that help you build an audience for the shows that you put on?
Jack: It didn’t actually help us build an audience for the shows we put on. It wasn’t linear, like once that happened we got traffic. I just think it taught us valuable lesson about how to better create content, and then it wasn’t until April 2016, like I said, where we started consistently getting traffic. And it really wasn’t until probably that summer, the summer of 2016 that we started to make more monster content. So the thing about a company and a startup is sometimes it’s not as linear as you want it to be.
I wish it was as simple as July 2015, we do Snapchat Murder Mystery, August 2015 money rains down on me from the sky. But it was that taught us something about how to create format better, and then those lessons, we just kind of slowly implemented it until where we are now where we really do feel like we’re running a machine here in terms of what we’re making.
Andrew: How do you communicate that, what you stand for, how you want to create characters, how you want to develop them? How do you could communicate that now to a growing team of creators?
Jack: That’s a great question, because the number one thing I’m proud of at Crypt is that our internal alignment is equal to our external alignment. It’s a very hard thing to get right in companies, and we have a lot we can improve on, but that we do well. The reason our fans tune in, the 110 million organic views on one show page in December is because they love new monsters. The reason people watch Crypt now is because we’re bringing new monsters. Our employees show up every day knowing the goal is to create the next generation of monsters.
So I’m in our office right now. We have the big, blowup paintings of our best monsters all over the walls. We have murals of our monsters. We had our best IP in over 200 Spencer’s retail stores this fall. We have all the merch that Spencer’s put over the country and like a little, mini store in our office. So we are just showing our monsters all over the walls here. People when they walk in, anyone who walks in would know this is what these people are trying to build. Because we have just photos of our monsters and our monsters masks, and we actually have two photos. One of the original Marvel on like, you know, like, the banner. And then below it, our Crypt monsters across a banner that says, “Crypt” behind it. We are really trying to drive that home to everybody here.
Andrew: Would you be able to later on take your phone and just walk us through and show us some of this?
Jack: Yeah, I could do it right now, or I can do it at the end if you want.
Andrew: I don’t want to mess with the setting because you’ve got it just right, but I’d love to…
Jack: Well, at the end if you remind me, I’m happy to do that.
Andrew: Okay. I’d love to take a look at that.
Jack: Oh, yeah. Our whole teams here working. We can say hi to everybody, and I can put on a Birch Mask, and you’ll see me in the… I can put on the masks of our best monsters.
Andrew: The Birch Mask, I’m looking… I had it a second ago. I have so many freaking tabs for you on my screen. I can’t even find the Birch Mask. That’s one of things that you sell in the merch page on your site. I can’t imagine that selling… I don’t know, Spence? That’s what, a UK store? I can’t imagine that selling in a store. I can’t imagine Giggles selling in a store.
Jack: So the Birch mask actually isn’t in the Spencer store. The masks…
Jack: …weren’t in the Spencer store. Spencer’s is, you know, a retail store. We also have our own direct-to-fan site where we sold some stuff directly to fans. And the mask we sold…
Andrew: So what’s being sold in a retail store that’s not freaking people out?
Jack: Stuff sold in the retail store, we have this beautiful Blaise sweater. We have a lot of shirts, you know. We have like Birch shirts and Giggle shirts. We actually had Giggles, like, shot glasses. We this one character, Giggles the Clown, she’s very popular. So the stuff that was sold in Spencer’s was like drink ware and shirts. And the stuff that was in our direct-to-fans store was masks, make-up kit, kind of a little more specific to the Halloween type items.
Andrew: You know, I don’t get scared by scary movies. I don’t think I ever did, but just having them on my screen makes me uneasy in a weird way.
Jack: Well, that means we’re doing our job, you know?
Andrew: Yeah, it definitely does. It’s… Wow. Giggles especially makes me feel uneasy. There are shot glasses with Giggles on… I don’t know how to even describe… How would you describe Giggles to somebody who’s listening to this?
Jacob: Giggles is social fiction. Giggles is in my opinion, the future of characters. She was born on Facebook Live. Andrew, do you remember like the “Clown Apocalypse” a few years ago when the clowns are coming out of the woods?
Jacob: Oh, you don’t? It was a big story, man. I mean, maybe… It was like they were coming out of the woods in like South Carolina and North Carolina. People were freaking out so we said, “Oh, my gosh. We have to react to this.” So immediately we created Giggles and we sent her to Hollywood boulevard. And this was October 2016 and we just put Facebook Live on and we created this character and she’s walking around, and people loved it.
And then we sent Giggles to San Antonio because that’s where number one of her fan base was. And we sent her to Las Vegas and we built this character, we raise our round of money from Larry [inaudible 00:34:40] at NBCU and advanced the capital in February 2017 specifically so we can serialize our best monsters. We brought Giggles back in May of 2017. And the affinity around her was so high that she now has her own Facebook page. The Giggles Facebook page has 330,000 fans I think. Her Instagram has like 35,000 fans, and she posts like a real person.
So we treat Giggles as real because she was born on Facebook Live. She was born interacting with real human beings. Since then we’ve unveiled her backstory and her life and everything, but what Giggles is is she’s not scripted. It’s a real character posting as if she was a real human being, talking about her life and posting content like an influencer would, where she throws up selfie videos and Instagrams and vlogs, just living her life as a freaky clown.
Andrew: With blood coming down her neck and these weird teeth on her face. Very… I don’t know what it is. It makes me very uneasy to see it and I like that. I like to feel that. I like to feel something.
Jacob: Scary isn’t a category. It’s an emotion. That’s, I think, the power of Crypt and why scary content has always had power in our media environment. You like being scared. Even if you feel uneasy, it’s a deeply powerful basic human emotion. Oops, my video went weird there for a second.
Andrew: It paused there for a second.
Jack: She… Yeah, I don’t know what it did.
Andrew: I’m shutting down all the tabs that I have for you right now just because maybe that’s what caused the video to freeze for a sec.
Jack: Well, listen. That’s next level scary. We’re going to feel like we’re in your computer. But, you know, we love being scared. Human beings, we love being scared. It’s just a fact. So if you can create visceral characters, that experience can live forever. So even if you feel uneasy the truth is we as human beings are attracted to the idea of being scared, and it’s the most shared emotion in the world. What is shared among all human beings? Love, excitement, and fear. Fear is one of them.
Andrew: And your vision is, the Marvel references, Marvel Comics tested out superheroes and story lines in an inexpensive way, which was these paper comics. The things that worked out became these characters that stood out on their own and almost demanded a bigger platform which was movies, and so you’re going to do the same thing. In an less expensive way test out your monsters and then if they’re hits, blow them up into movies and things that…and VR and anything that we can’t even imagine today. That’s the vision.
Jack: That’s the vision. You pitch it so well. You should pitch it instead of me. Now, I hope people don’t listen to this…
Andrew: Well, let’s do it, man.
Jack: They’re going to be like, “Let that guy be the CEO.” But yes. That’s exactly our vision. You have it exactly correctly. The best characters live forever. Imagine if you and me could get in a time machine and go back to 1920 and tell the creator of Frankenstein, “Whoa, before you sell Frankenstein to Universal ,100 years later Universal’s going to monetize this IP. This story will be relevant 100 years later.” I mean, what would the value of that be?
Frankenstein survived World War I, World War II. It survived the VCR, the DVD, the Blu-ray, Frankenstein is still relevant. Crypt is treating social media like Marvel treated comic books, just like you said. This is where the kids are. The young people are watching content on their phones. They’re watching on YouTube. They’re watching on Instagram. They’re watching on Facebook. We’re creating monsters there because for just a few thousand dollars we can reach millions of people and they can fall in love with these characters. But the truth is just like Marvel, we want to be where anyone is watching content.
Can you and me predict where content’s going to be in 10 years? We can make some guesses, but the truth is technology is moving so fast I think it’s hard to predict. But I believe you and me can predict that Star Wars will be relevant in 10 years. I’m willing to bet my whole life that in 10 years, whether we’re doing VR or AR or pushing a button on the side of our head, we’re going to want to know Star Wars.
Andrew: But the thing is that…
Jack: That’s what we want to do.
Andrew: On a big level to create these movies and see whether they’re going to be a hit or not, it’s too expensive. If you could do a small…
Jack: It is.
Andrew: …level and then have a built-in audience, then you’re going to be good. That’s what you’re trying to…
Jack: And a built-in audience, exactly. And the built-in audience is the key because obviously, Marvel crushed it with comic books, but what does Crypt get from Facebook and YouTube? We get data. We get information on who’s watching, and we use that data to actually incorporate into our creative. You know, we have a great data team here and a great content team. And “Sunny Family Cult,” one of our hit shows, we just released episode 3 of season 2 yesterday, we’re getting the data in real time.
And our data team is telling our content team, “Hey, we see the people who are interacting and watching. We should change the narrative or we need to, you know, tilt the story to appease the biggest fan base, look at what the comments are saying.” So we get real time feedback and it’s not just cheap, but we actually get to incorporate that feedback to make the content better.
Andrew: Okay. Let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor, second and final one, and then I want to come back and ask you a little bit more about data because now you’re talking my language. How are you figuring out what’s scaring people and what’s not, what’s exciting them and what’s not? And then beyond the Snapchat campaign that you did, you guys did two seasons there, didn’t you?
Jack: That was a one-time event, but we’ve done other content on Snapchat, but I also…
Andrew: Oh, so maybe it was so many people searching for it on Google for season two to see if there was another one that every time I search…
Jack: Yeah, maybe.
Andrew: I want to know what else did you do to get viewers? What did you do to grow? But let me take a moment to talk about my second sponsor. The second sponsor is HostGator. I was actually very interested to see that Jack, even though your content lives on social media, you have your own website. Now, did you spend for the top-of-the-line hosting company? No. I looked you up. I look it up on BuiltWith and with everybody I check to see what’s their software built on, what’s their business built on.
No, because you don’t need it. What you need is a hosting company that will host your website right, and just… I’ve got clear my throat. Hosting company that just works, hosted right and gets out of the way. And if anyone out there is listening to me and wants that they should just go to hosgator.com/mixergy because when you go there you’re going to get one-click install of WordPress. I believe that’s what Crypt TV is run on. Let me see. Let me just double check that.
Yeah. It’s run on WordPress. And then it just funnels people out to all these different places where they can watch a video. So one click install of WordPress on HostGator, which means you have the most popular content management software on the planet hosting your website for free. And in addition to that you get unmetered disk space, unmetered bandwidth, unlimited email addresses, 24/7 tech support. And if you think that this is not right for you within 45 days if you ask for it they’ll give you 100% of your money back.
Final reason to go to hostgator.com/mixergy, in fact I’m going to give you two. Number one, they’re going to give you a lower price than they get anywhere else which is 50% to 60% off. And number two they’re going to give you a $100 AdWords offer so whatever business idea you have or whatever you’re running you can get some traffic, some customers to right away. Go get the details to that and see the offer at hostgator.com/mixergy. Hostgator.com/mixergy.
By the way, I do BuiltWith. I love builtwith.com because that’s how I get to see what people build their websites on, what software they’re using. It’s kind of interesting and geeky. Right. Let’s get into data. What are you seeing? Do you have an example of some piece of data that helped influence the way that you create?
Jack: One hundred percent. So we had the show “Sunny Family Cult.” It’s one of our favorite shows. We actually launched… We premiered the pilot at Tribeca Film Festival in April or May of 2017. We released season 1 in October of 2017. It did so well that we brought it back for season 2, because that’s what we do here. So I’m going to give you a specific example but on a very, you know, over-the-top level, very 30,000 to sea level, we only choose to greenlight shows we know our audience is loving.
The problem with entertainment in my opinion sometimes is it’s very emotional. It’s art. How do you truly judge art? It kind of makes it tough to decide what to greenlight, what to go with, and that’s why you see sometimes flops because this is a hard business, but also emotions get in the way. We don’t have that at Crypt. We release shows or shorts and we only choose to invest in a season 2 or making more content if the audience has shown a threshold.
So we have thresholds for greenlights. If the audience doesn’t respond in a certain way and hit key metrics we don’t greenlight something. “Sunny Family Cult” crushed it so we decided to greenlight it and make a season 2. Now I’m gonna give you the specific example. Okay, we have the data from season 1, but it’s only 4 episodes. We’re releasing much more episodes and much longer lengths for Season 2. We released episode 2 of season 1, and we realized females are really being drawn to this show. It’s skewing way female, like 65% to 70% of the audience is female.
Okay. They’re not just female, they are 18 to 24 year old females. Okay, they’re not just 18 to 24 year old females, they’re really concentrated in Kansas, Iowa, Texas, like Midwest. The show is about family in the Midwest, but then it doesn’t mean it will all be midwestern viewers. So after episode 2 of season 2 we really see, there is no denying this. This is not just a trend. We know this specific age group is watching more, they’re commenting more, they’re commenting interested in this part of the storyline, in these relationships.
So once you have that undeniable proof our data team goes back to our content team, because we’re shooting new episodes as we’re releasing. We do it concurrently. Remember how I told you earlier in this podcast the mistake we made in the launch was we made all this content before we launched, so we couldn’t alter it once we saw that it wasn’t working, it was just… We had already warehoused it? We don’t have that anymore. We’ve learned from that mistake. We shoot episodes of the season and release episode right as it come out.
So we don’t film eight episodes and then release it after we film them all. We’re releasing episodes as they go so we have time to incorporate, in this case of “Sunny Family Cult” the data from the first 2 episodes of Season 2 so we can actually affect and edit and change episodes 3, 4, 5, 6, etc., based on the audiences we see skewing towards the content.
Andrew: Facebook is giving that kind of detail when people are commenting, who’s commenting?
Jack: Oh, so detailed. Well, we asked… So we use data in every way. So the native Facebook gives, and Facebook keeps improving this which is why the platform should become great for video creators like us and why we just love Facebook show pages and their whole platform, we get data on what groups are completing the content more. What groups are more likely to comment. We see very much by age breakdown, by gender, by region breakdown, who’s completing, who’s sharing, who’s bringing in friends, where traffic sources come from. Are people going direct to this page? Is it coming from the feed? So we see the groups that are driving the key community metrics we care about. And then we also scroll through the comments to get a little bit of that human feel for the content of what people are talking about. Facebook does give you data on that, but we kind of actually encourage our content team to read every comment…
Andrew: Every comment.
Jack: See what the… Yeah. Every comment. Look, we’re getting tens of thousands of comments a day. So you can’t always read every comment but on our best monsters, the ones we are investing and growing, yes, it has to be every comment because this is what separates us. This is the ability that tech is giving us to hear from our audience and not just to make it content for consumption. I don’t want to always…
Andrew: And you’re also responding. I see Michelle Adams 13 weeks ago said, “Spencer’s has the t-shirt for this. Got to have it.” Three exclamation points. Someone from Sunny Family Cult responded, “Go Michelle.” Three exclamation points back.
Jack: And you see someone from “Sunny Family Cult,” that’s the genius. It’s like you can talk to your favorite characters. It’s like the show you love is talking directly back to you. The way Crypt is going to have to win is by building community around our IP, by engaging. We can’t just take passive content consumption for granted. We have to be, you know, using the power of digital to build affinity to our brand. That’s why we really encourage our team to read every comment and read the data.
The data obviously is number oriented or we’re seeing charts and demographics and trends. The comments are obviously like you just pointed out. Emotion, I think both matter and then we use that combination to actually change scripts. We have gone and changed scripts or changed story lines or changed the vision in real time. Because we want our audience to know you’re not just consuming this content, you’re impacting the direction it goes.
Andrew: What’s interesting to me is this post here from Alyssa Blue. This comment, she’s adding her friend Hunter Jones saying, “Can we start watching this?” Hunter Jones says, “Have you finished ‘Breaking Bad’ yet?” Alyssa comes back and says, “Maybe,” and then “Sunny Family Cult” says, “This one’s a lot shorter. Why not watch both of them?” That kind of thing is fascinating, but are you doing anything to get more people like Alyssa to tell their friends, to at their friends and get them to come in and watch?
Jack: Well, that’s how we use the data, you know. When we know that a certain audience group is clearly showing a predilection to a property, and it varies from monster to monster. You know, the audience for “Sunny Family Cult” is different than the audience for “Giggles the Clown” which is different than the audience for our show “The Look-See” that we love. And no different than different… Some people love Iron Man, some people love Ant-Man, but you can bring them all together in the same world, the Marvel brand helps it all.
So to answer your question, we are going for that and that’s how data helps inform those decisions. We never buy ads for our content. It only works organically. That’s how we choose to greenlight something. But once something’s already working, if we see an 18 to 24 year old girls in Texas are loving it, as in the case of “Sunny,” we will start to buy ads against just the highest performing group because we see that they are taking to the content and then we’re building more powerful communities around it because, you know, and that also helps us inform the story.
So we do want what you said, and we actually promote that by only buying ads for our content with specific groups after that group’s already shown a predilection for it.
Andrew: The main Facebook web page is facebook.com/crypttv.
Jack: And Crypt Monsters is our show page is doing so well, and “Sunny Family Cult” has its own show page now. So, yes, facebook.com…
Andrew: So, yeah. It’s facebook.com/sunnyfamilycult.
Jack: Yes. And we actually released an AR mask with “Sunny Family Cult” so you can download an AR Mask were you can, you know, like Snapchat. Put the phone in front of you and you boom, pop up the virtual “Sunny Family Cult” mask.
Andrew: Oh, shoot. I had such a good question and now I’m… Oh, I know what it is. Why are you here? What’s your goal with being on Mixergy? Why aren’t you on sites for women who are more likely to be in your audience for “Sunny Family Cult” or monster sites?
Jacob: Well, that’s what the job of the content is to do. I think my job is to… Well, first off, I’m here because you’ve given me great things to think about and a great conversation. And I don’t see myself as the star, right? I’m not the star of Crypt. Of course, I appreciate that I could be on a show like this and talk about my stories as an entrepreneur, but do you know whose job it is to be in front of the 18 to 24 year old girls? “Sunny Family Cult.” And…
Andrew: And how are you doing that? Are you doing any PR that way?
Jack: We are doing partnerships with influencers that way, so we, you know, push our own traffic but that’s the power of data. If we’re looking for an influencer partnership where we’re looking to buy ads on a site, we only do it after we’ve seen the predeliction to that group.
Andrew: And then you find an influencer who speaks to that group and…
Jack: Not always, but sometimes. Not always, but sometimes.
Andrew: And then what do you do if you do that?
Jack: If we do that we can do a partnership with that influencer where we have them review the show or talk about it. Or sometimes we actually cast influencers in our shorts. That is never the way we primary pushed traffic become it comes from the brand, but that can be another way to amplify it. And the point of all of that is it’s building towards the monster being the star and we want our fans to fall in love these characters forever so that 18 to 24 year-old girls who grew up on “Sunny Family Cult” now love it and when eventually it’s the VR version like you talked about or we do a podcast, they follow it because they’ve fallen in love with that story.
Andrew: These episodes get millions of views.
Jack: Well, I’m really proud of the comments, so yes. I love that we get millions of views, but to build true affinity around an IP you have to have people engage with it, and that’s obviously something we care about.
Andrew: You know what’s interesting is, a lot of people are talking about this like it’s a movie and the comment back from you guys at “Sunny Family Cult” is, it’s a whole series on Facebook. You’re teaching them. This is not a movie. This is a serious… At least for this one episode that I’m looking at.
Jack: I think the word movie… I mean, that should actually pop… We have a lot of people demanding it to be on Netflix. And I think that’s because the word movie doesn’t mean 120 minutes to people. It means something emotional. Movie means an experience that takes you through something. But this is why I’m excited about what Crypt is building, because who’s to say these aren’t movies? Are these in theaters? Is “Sunny Family Cult” at the AMC this weekend? No. But if that emotional content experience takes you through an arc and if it makes you fall in love with the characters, that’s about all I care about. So the fans…
Andrew: But what about this? Here’s another person saying, “Do I watch this on Netflix?” And you have to say, “No. No. This is here. This is not the trailer for something that’s on Netflix.” People aren’t ready yet to watch movies on Facebook, it seems like.
Jack: I actually agree. I think that’s a good point because that’s why you see those comments keep popping up, but that’s what we’re here to educate them on. Because we think that Facebook’s a great platform to tell an entire series and we feel very confident about that, so you’re right. People aren’t fully adapted to it yet. And I think that also probably speaks to the fact that, and maybe this is me being vain, that our content is so high quality and so narrative there’s not a ton of… You’ve talked about Jake Paul.
There’s not a ton of narrative content on Facebook like that, and we are truly doing narrative content, so maybe that’s why people sometimes think that it’s Netflix or somewhere else.
Andrew: You know what? I told I was going back to see what your site used to look like, how you used to position yourselves. At some point, I forget where it was, I saw that you guys had an ambassador program. And I don’t know if you still have it. How did that work out for you, and what was it?
Jack: It worked out okay. Our ambassador program was hey, hardcore fans, you know, go to conventions or talk about, you know, what Crypt means to you. And I don’t think we did a great job with it because one of the hardest things about a company especially, you know, I’m 26, I started this company after college, is understanding scale. And understanding scale is very, very, difficult. And the reason the ambassador program, I don’t think we did…
I think it’s our fault, we didn’t do it to our best potential, is because the ambassador program, it didn’t scale. It’s too hard to coordinate 50 to 100 people when all of a sudden, this thing is getting millions of views, and all of a sudden it’s getting millions of views every day. I remember the first time we got, you know, 15 million views in a month. Now, we can get 15 million views in a day. So we didn’t do a great job with it, and the way we’ve transitioned it is there’s actually a Crypt TV fan group on Facebook where our hardest core fans all interact.
And again, Facebook’s built for scale. That has I think 50,000 fans in that group, and that’s like 50,000 hardcore Crypt fans. So we moved a bit away from the ambassador program and I think that’s not something we executed very well.
Andrew: All right. Was there one other thing that I didn’t touch on that was especially helpful for growing your audience?
Jack: Oh, are you asking me there’s one other thing that…
Andrew: Yeah. Was there anything else? Because I’m fascinated by the things that you’re doing that I wouldn’t see if I was just an outside observer.
Jack: Yes. I think the things that we learned in terms of growing our audience that works really well is we learned a lot about the arc a scary short has to take in order for it to spread. The beginning and the ending make a huge difference. You talk about how data informs content decision and that’s what we’re doing here. You need to show the monster in the first act, you know. Our episodes have become longer, so it used to be we needed to show the monster in the first 20 seconds. Now that our episodes are six minutes it doesn’t have to be the first 20 seconds.
But you need to show the monster in the first 20 seconds we learned, to kind of tease people, to kind of be like, “Oh, wait. What’s this here?” And then you also you need to show the monster at the end in a way that elicits a share. The way our content really grew is once we turned data to help inform format, and it all goes back to how, I think, why we struggled in the beginning. Because we had our conception around, “Oh, let’s just make content we think is great that’s five minutes or two minutes or whatever.”
And then as we learned, data helped us inform actually the way we should best make scary content specifically, because we’re making monsters all the time. So a huge thing that led to sharing is understanding how you need to tease the monster in the very beginning, and also end a piece of content in a way that gives a hook to share and a hook to comment.
Andrew: What’s an example of a hook that works for sharing?
Jack: An example… Well, we were try not to make it, like, too over-the-head like, “Share if scared,” because we’re trying to build these monsters. But a hook that works is an ending that’s so shocking or so powerful or impactful, the vision, the last image has to be super, super, super, impactful. So an example that works is we have this short “Mordeo,” right? It’s about, like, flesh eating in the woods and this kind of legend that, oh, people who get lost in the woods they, you know, resort to cannibalism. Very friendly content here.
They resort to cannibalism, but then you turn into this monster, the Mordeo. So we ended that short on the Mordeo screaming and yelling and its horns are coming out. When you end on a powerful image, it leads to a share versus ending on like a quiet note or slowly fading to black. You can’t really do that as much. You need to end on a powerful image that leaves people so hooked that they don’t just go comment, they don’t just, “Oh, my God. That was great,” they share. So the image you end on, and the emotional note you end on is powerful.
I think when people think of TV and movies they think of an art. So they think, oh, the movie has its big climax moment, and then there’s the 10 minutes of kind of come down. I don’t think that’s the case with digital. I think you have to end on impact every time. And for scary, that’s the monster.
Andrew: I’m just constantly looking at these videos to look at your endings as you’re doing this. I swear, I don’t get scared, but it’s just… For some reason, it’s twisting my insides, and in a weird way because I’m not mentally shocked by this. I’m looking at some kid who’s now face down, dead on the ground, and someone’s looking at a piece of paper with blood on it. I wish I could show this as we’re talking. Since I can’t show that, and I think that people should just go over to your website or your Facebook page to see it, how about we close this out by looking at the office? Let’s see where you work…
Jack: Let’s do it.
Andrew: …and how you communicate your message to your team?
Jack: We’re on the move. The podcast is on the move, so.
Andrew: Yes. And we might lose you, and if we do, I’m going to say goodbye right now. Actually, can you twist it to the side again? Yeah. Let’s go wide.
Jack: Oh, twist to the side again.
Andrew: Yeah, there we go. That fits better with my format. Okay. All right. And you can turn it around if you want to.
Jack: Great. We’re ready for the office showing?
Andrew: But hold it in landscape, not portrait mode. There we go.
Jack: Like there we go.
Andrew: All right. This is the office.
Jack: Okay. So I’m going to take you to the front.
Andrew: This is what was behind your camera. Okay.
Jack: Boom. There’s the Crypt TV neon sign.
Andrew: I see, yes.
Jack: If you don’t have a neon sign, you’re not actually a start-up company. That’s a little known law. It’s actually in the rule books. You need a neon sign to be a startup.
Andrew: Investors insist on it. I know.
Jack: No, no. They won’t even invest in you, you know. And so it’s key. This is our little burgeoning press wall, because, you know, we have our ego here and our vanity.
Andrew: I see. Oh, that’s why you knew that “Variety” magazine piece that I talked about.
Jack: Oh, yeah. There’s me and Giggles.
Andrew: Oh. And there’s… Yeah.
Jack: There is some more Giggles. There’s the Birch, right? Look, we’re really into everything. Our box that has the keys to the bathroom is from “The Birch.” You asked me how we teach people what we’re building, monsters? Everything here is from Crypt shorts. We aren’t idolizing things. We are building our own things that we want fans to idolize. Here is some of our merch. This is the bloody sweater from “Sunny Family Cult,” because again, we see us as creating great IP that lives forever.
So that isn’t just video, it’s merch and people falling in love with IP and wanting to interact with it in different ways. Here’s our… This is a great one. Here’s our Birch mask. Oh, wow. Look at that.
Andrew: That’s what we were talking about earlier.
Jack: And then we have the Giggles mask. This actually sold out in our online store this October, the Giggles mask and the Giggles makeup kit. We have the little pins. Oh, we have the Giggles figurine. This just came in.
Andrew: Oh, there she is.
Jack: So we know what this is, right? We talked about Marvel. This is iconic. This is famous. But what are we building? We’re building this.
Andrew: I see.
Jack: So I think we talked about this earlier. That’s what they did…
Andrew: So behind you, you’re showing the parallels between what you have and what they did. So, got it.
Jack: So this… Oh. I just dropped it. But this to this.
Andrew: Got it.
Jack: That’s what we’re doing, and now I’ll pick it up after dropping. These are some of our amazing methods of our contenting…
Andrew: For people who are listening in, we’re looking at a Marvel shot of the heroes in front of the Marvel logo, and almost an identical version of Crypt with their characters in similar positions. All right.
Jack: And then again, on the walls there’s a huge, giant painting of the Birch on the walls. And on our walls we have the mural of our monsters.
Andrew: And your point is these are our heroes. You could show a logo from the show. You could show anything else, but you’re saying, “This is what we make. We make these monsters.”
Jack: Yes. Exactly.
Andrew: This is what our business is manufacturing.
Jack: We make these monsters and this is what we’re showing up every day to do. These are why our fans love us. Our fans love us because of these, because of Birch, because of the merch that they were buying, because we can be the next Marvel. That’s what we’re here every day to do, to grow those stories and to bring new monsters into the fold as well.
Andrew: By the way, are you monetizing now beyond the merch?
Jack: We are monetizing beyond the merch. We do a lot of marketing for studios, like every studio we help market their scary movies and TV shows, but obviously the key is around the IP. We’ve done shows with partners like go90. We worked with Fullscreen. I know they just shut their S-VOD down recently, but we created a show for Fullscreen. And in the near future, we will be announcing some of our monsters are going to be the long form shows with some really exciting partners.
Andrew: I see. So for now, a little bit of revenue coming in from promoting other things, but the goal is to make the thing you sell to be the monsters.
Jack: Exactly. The goal is to monetize the IP and all the ways people monetize great characters. We had Giggles be the opening weekend attraction at Knott’s Scary Farm. We have the merch and we’re going to be announcing some really big shows around our biggest monsters that I think are going to be really exciting.
Andrew: All right. The website is crypttv.com, right?
Jack: Yes. Yes.
Andrew: Crypttv.com, and frankly, you guys are going to see them on Facebook if you search for them. Facebook.com/crypttv is a good place for anyone who wants to go check you out. If you’re just curious about the monsters, the Instagram page is instagram.com/crypttv. But frankly, I don’t think that’s the best way to experience the monsters. The best is to actually just hit play on one of the shows while you’re watching it, and have a garbage next to you in case you want to throw up a little bit.
Jack: And keep the lights on because, you know, if the lights are off you’re going to be too scared to even use the garbage.
Andrew: Thanks so much for being on here, and thank you to the two sponsors who I mentioned. The first is going to host your website, right? It’s called hostgator.com/mixergy. And the second is the company that’s going to do your email right. I think what we’re going to see is that Jack’s mom’s going to tell him, “Hey, go Jack. Sign up for this.” It’s called…
Jack: I know she is. She’s going to be like, “Why weren’t you doing this already?”
Andrew: Because look at all the data you get everywhere else and how you customize based on data. Emails should give you that kind of power with the simplicity that even your mom should be able to run it for you until you hire someone to do it.
Jack: She’s going to say, “You should have listened to Andrew before all this happened.”
Andrew: She will. Tell her to call me or email me. But everyone else should just go to activecampaign.com/mixergy, and thank you all for being a part of this. Thanks for doing this interview.
Jack: This was great fun. Thank you for having me.
Andrew: And you know what? Five years from now, 10 years from now if someone’s listening to this interview, we’re now shooting this in 2018. If it’s 2028 and you’re saying, “How the hell did you get them on,” please, just hit reply and let me know. Or email me. Andrew@mixergy.com should still be working.
So I think you guys are going to go build big things, and I’m really proud that people are getting to see how far you’ve come here and how you did it, and in the future come back and saying, “Whoa, I can’t believe Andrew got him on.”
Jack: It would be my pleasure to come back. And Freddy Krueger has been relevant since its creation, and I hope that 30 years from now, Birch and Look-See and “Sunny Family Cult” are more relevant than they are today and they lasted the test of time.
Andrew: Right on. All right. Thanks so much. Bye. Bye everyone.
Jack: Thank you so much my friend.