Husky Starcraft Interview: From Burgerville to 500K YouTube Subscribers in 2 Years
Mike Lamond AKA Husky Starcraft (Wikipedia, YouTube) is a popular e-sports broadcaster with nearly 500,000 subscribers and close to 200 million upload views. I had a chance to talk to him about college life, the early Husky Starcraft days, current challenges, collaboration with other casters, growth, how introverts can use their personality to work to their advantage (Husky is an introvert, though most people don’t realize that), thoughts on how to beat Spanishiwa, and more.
The audio has been edited down in order to be hosted on YouTube. For the full, unedited version with the transcript, check out the Startups Open Sourced e-book which interviews the founders of your favorite web sites (Grooveshark, reddit, Airbnb, foursquare, etc).
Here are some highlights from the interview:
- College experience: attended a community college and eventually University of Oregon, where he dropped out to pursue casting full-time. He didn’t enjoy being told what to do or the formal structure of the college system.
- Work schedule: 80 hours per week is spent on gaming or casting, with most of it related to casting.
- Getting started: started out as a hobby with roommates, several weeks in thought it would be something he’d focus on doing more.
- There’s no beef: Despite many users who vote up comments on YouTube that might suggest there’s a rivalry between major casters, there isn’t any contention. They ‘re all supportive of each other and have busy schedules, which prohibits them from collaborating closely. Casting between multiple people is often difficult to watch as well, since casters aren’t always synched up and may be looking at different screens.
- Motivation: He’s not driven by money, he is driven by the passion and excitement of casting.
- From 100 to 10,000 subscribers: Husky made all of his friends subscribe to his videos (in a non-intimidating way). When Team Liquid mentioned Husky in a news article, Husky landed his first 100 subscribers. Eventually, there was a semi-exclusive tournament without a caster during Starcraft 1. When Husky casted that tournament and several others after that, he worked consistently and eventually gained his first 10,000 subscribers. Once he reached that point, the number kept growing naturally, although gradually.
- Be genuine with your community: Husky doesn’t fake his reactions or persona on YouTube, that’s how he naturally is and it’s important that you be genuine if you’re trying to build a community.
- Deep domain knowledge: Husky has played every Blizzard game to date, and he knows the space really well. He has been following gaming from a very young age.
- Stay lean, stay determined: If Husky can’t make enough money from YouTube, he’ll move back to Oregon and work at fast food again so that he can continue to do casting and make it work. He doesn’t get stressed out about failure because he doesn’t focus on business goals or achievements; he’s just interested in having fun and being passionate about casting. He focuses full-time on casting right now. You can save money by having inexpensive hobbies (gaming) and living in less popular cities.
- Working with others: Whether it’s Justin.TV hooking Husky up with a Lamborghini for a music video, or working with competitive sports organizations such as GSL or MLG, it’s important to do your networking and work with others. Husky chooses people based on who he thinks seems normal and nerdy, and he rejects deals that are purely profit-driven because those aren’t his intentions.
- If you’re passionate, there’s a business to be made: The only thing that matters is enjoying what you do (find something you love), and from there a business and money can be made.
- Don’t underestimate the effort involved, time management is critical: Husky spends 4 hours per 20 minutes of casting. Between rendering, recording, selecting, and uploading 1-2GB files, it takes a lot of time to produce the casts. Husky does not preview games before he decides to cast them, so he may spend 40 minutes recording a cast, only to delete it later if he thinks it’s boring. Husky also works on music videos on his other channels and travels to live events. Managing your time is very important.
- E-sports future looks very good: The e-sports is broadcasted globally, unlike sports such as American football. Justin.TV is well positioned to help live-stream where there are 50,000 to 60,000 people watching Husky’s casts at a single time (with an estimated 100,000+ viewing over the whole session). There are millions of views on Starcraft content every day, as Husky is consistently ranked in the top 10 or 20 most viewed videos on YouTube.
- Are you introverted? If so, that works to your advantage. Advice for aspiring casters: Being an introvert isn’t a dealbreaker, it’s actually really good; Husky Starcraft is an introvert, despite being very energetic and upbeat in his videos, and that shouldn’t discourage others from recording on YouTube. Husky is extroverted when it comes to meeting his fans, but otherwise he gets charged up by being on the computer and playing or casting Starcraft. Husky was criticized in school for talking too quickly, but he has the last laugh now because that’s part of his unique casting style that people find interesting.
The Banelings video where Husky Starcraft was able to get help from Justin.TV to borrow a Lamborghini
Interesting behind the scenes look at creating the video: