Before creating Channel Awesome, cofounders Mike Michaud and Bhargav Dronamraju were both working for Circuit City in 2007 when they suddenly found themselves without jobs. “Circuit City liked to fire people when they started making too much money,” said Michaud, “and we decided it was time to get serious with our idea for a website.
That website was, as Michaud called it, “really cheap” and while it had a little success, they shut it down in February of 2008, re-tooled and re-launched as ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com and have been building on their success ever since.
A big part of their success is the aforementioned Guy with the Glasses, Doug Walker. “Doug’s show, ‘5 second movies’ started off on Youtube,” said Michaud, “and he took movies and made them into 5 second movies. For ‘Titanic’, you saw a man saying the ship can’t sink, then saw it disappear under the waves and it was movie over,” laughed Michaud, “and people LOVED it.”
Doug Walker then moved onto to creating “Nostalgia Critic” an online show where he reviews (mostly bad) movies and TV shows of the 80s and 90s. His videos started getting viewed 250,000 to 300,000 times a week and it became apparent Doug was a hit. ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com remains Channel Awesome’s most popular online group of videos and is popular around the Globe.
“We were recently invited to Austria and people travelled from all points of the Globe to come see Doug,” said Michaud. “It’s incredible how popular he is. Japan, London, Australia, people will travel to see him.”
To show they were not only creative but also philanthropic, Channel Awesome approached The Ronald McDonald House and wanted to partner with them to do an online, live fundraiser on their one-year anniversary in December of 2009.
“The McDonald’s people didn’t know what to make of us and basically thought we were some weird young guys with stupid videos,” laughed Michaud, “until we handed them a check for $32,400. We made that much in donations from our viewers in six hours. Now the Ronald McDonald House loves us.”
As Channel Awesome grew, other video producers applied to be associated with the brand.
“We have over 50 independent video producers making content for us,” said Michaud, “and our audience keeps growing.”
Currently, ThatGuyWithTheGlasses is drawing 1.2 Million unique visitors per month and generating 22 million pageviews.
For their two-year anniversary, the Doug Walker and 20 independent video producers from Channel Awesome invaded a fictitious country called “Molossia,” located in Nevada on a man’s personal property. Together, they overthrew the sovereign and renamed the country Kickassia until the deposed sovereign convinced them all to reinstate him by overthrowing the new leader (and Channel Awesome personality,) Cinema Snob.
If the whole thing sounds ridiculous, consider this: Channel Awesome just released the DVD movie of “Kickassia” and are selling it in their online store. In 3 days, they sold $28,000 dollars worth of DVDs.
“We are working on launching some new sites as well,” said Michaud. “A video game review site called, ‘Blistered Thumbs,’ a sports site called ‘Awesome Sports Network’ and ‘The Bar Sports Network’.”
As their popularity grew, Channel Awesome was featured in Entrepreneur magazine in December of 2009 and Doug Walker is going to be a keynote speaker at Rocked the Recession in December in Chicago and Mike and Bhargav are going to be the keynote at Bootstrappers Ball November 18th in Milwaukee and Doug Walker was also featured in a national PBS commercial.
“We are really excited about our fans and where the business is headed.” said Michaud.