One classic VW camper van, two hosts (with two great accents!), and the best camera equipment out there — Startup Van travels the world, from Australia to Hong Kong to the U.S., in search of the best entrepreneurial endeavors. Looking for a new way to tell stories, Graham Hussey and Mark McDonagh turned to video back in 2015 to develop and deliver engaging content. The Irish-born pair started in their hometown of Dublin, Ireland and quickly racked up sponsorships (and a large, supportive community!) to keep collecting stories around the world.
“The main thing about our audience is that we are our own audience,” says McDonagh. “We’re a startup, we’re entrepreneurs. We’re all in the same boat. It’s not a case where we just come in, and we’re talking about the weather one day and then we’re interviewing start ups another day, and then we’re doing something else the third day. We’re always doing this. We’re learning just as much as they are. We share, we learn from each other.”
Aside from a growing entrepreneur network, the Startup Van team has a network of classic VW camper vans around the world. Every time they land in a new city, they find a new connection to use their VW for an event. And while their equipment gets more advanced every year, their mission stays the same: to keep broadcasting business advice “from the horse’s mouth,” as Hussey says, all from the back seat of their van.
Since entrepreneurs are always priority here at Hype, we met up with this startup duo at the Sage Summit in Atlanta. We just had to ask about the best advice they’ve heard so far in their travels. After all, they’re as passionate as we are about telling those hustle stories.
It’s not about the money
“I think one of the biggest ones, especially with us, is that it’s not all about money. We didn’t start this for money. We started this out of passion and a hobby and it grew and grew and grew. And it grew into the business that it is now. The most important thing is: do what you love. We’re doing what we love. Money comes second. You know, where I think some people kind of go, ‘How do we make money? Oh, we could do this, this, and this.’ The other way sometimes works too and is a lot, lot better.”
Keep your eye on the goal
“I said this early on as well, ’cause it’s so important — just don’t lose sight of why you started and don’t lose the fun. To be completely honest, and we’re honest in every interview we do, there’s some days where we do this and for some reason we’re in a slump or pissed off or something has happened or whatever it may be. You just have to get in the van or have a seat somewhere else and go, ‘Look, we love doing this. Can we just, like, get out of this slump?’ And you kind of have to give yourself a pep talk.”
Make your brand personal
“You hear everyone talking about automation. Right? None of the stuff we do is automated. It’s myself and Graham all the time. When you see a tweet going out or a reply or an email or an Instagram or whatever it is, it’s us. It’s either myself or Graham. There’s none of those automatic answers or anything like that. People are always talking about, “Oh, it frees up your time. It frees up this.” Keep it real, keep close to people that you want to be close to. We want to be close to our fans and our audience.”
It’s not about the numbers either
“So many people are focused on how many followers they have and trying to build up that number — ‘I’ve got a million. I’ve got ten million. I’ve got five million.’ Okay, fine. Listen, if you’ve got a thousand, you’ve got a thousand people who are willing and interested in what you are doing. There are people on Twitter that have ten times the followers we do and one eighth of the engagement. It’s not about numbers so don’t stress over numbers. It’s about the audience engagement.”
Photos via Startup Van.