Interviews & Opinion

Next 10 Ventures CEO on crossing commerce, content and community to take creators to the next level

Next 10 Ventures CEO on crossing commerce, content and community to take creators to the next level

Ten years ago, ‘YouTuber’ wasn’t a job title. In fact, creating videos and putting them online wasn’t something people went in to with the expectation of making it their living. Now, things are much different.

However, there is now so much content to access that a lot of great creators are unable to turn their passion in to profit. Why is this? One reason is that they simply don’t have the skills, the money or the know-how to turn the thing they love into a sustainable business.

That’s why former YouTube executive Ben Grubbs has set up Next 10 Ventures. Grubbs spent some time overseeing the growth and sustainability of YouTube's top tier content creators, and now he wants to help the next wave of stars reach their potential.

Next 10 Ventures is a $50m operational fund for influencers and creators, and the company will aim to give new talent the stability and guidance to make their work sustainable. Can you give us a little introduction to Next 10 Ventures?
Ben Grubbs: Our mission is to enrich, inspire and entertain. We're defining ourselves as a vertically integrated operating fund thats both incubating and accelerating businesses and partnership with content creators.

Next 10 Ventures has a leadership team that's comprised of executives with tech and media experience. We're looking to identify opportunities with a creator, build a business and product plan and then inject capital to make it happen. 

Our aim is to address inefficiencies in the marketplace and look at creating efficiency for creators and their fan bases. The streams we're looking to cross are commerce, content and community. We're looking to be active across America (LA) and the Asia-pacific region (Singapore) where we see a lot of user growth.

Why have you moved on from YouTube to start a new venture?
There's a multitude of factors for myself and I've had a long career working in media technology companies building new business areas, opening up new markets. I've been encouraged over the years to step out and create something from the ground up that can support creators in a different way.

I saw an opportunity to work with creators that are trying to build brands and businesses and take those to the next level. For me, it was having that long term experience being a hands on operator and taking brands on to a single, regional or global market that led to seeing how I could make that work in the creator ecosystem.

Will you be looking at taking on rising influencers or will Next 10 be taking on existing talent as well?
It's a bit of both. We are looking at how we can partner with some established creators. We also see opportunities in playing a role in the incubation of newer creators.

One of the areas that we're going to focus on initially is education content. We're looking to provide support for education creators, helping to drive diversity both in the subject matter and the content that's being covered. We're looking to match the demand signals in different countries to the creators that make it.

What are the most important things to look for when choosing influencers to represent?
In a broad sense I think there has to be a desire to build something for the long term. When looking for creators we'll look at their existing ability to actually shape a brand or a business.

We want to see signals or at least see the creator is in the early stages of being able to sustain a brand. We also want to make the most of global digital market and not just operate in the same country as a particular creator.

Why do you think its important for advertisers and companies to make the most of these social influencers as opposed to more traditional celebrities and PR methods?

I would look at the time spent by consumers on these digital video and social platforms. As a marketer you need to think about how you're going to reach your target audience. If you're able to find that target audience through these platforms then that's pretty meaningful.

The other piece is consumers are spending a lot of time watching videos made by content creators. Over the years, what we've seen is significant lifts in brand awareness and brand consideration from content produced by creators and distributed through their video and social channels.

You need to set an expectation for consumers and let them know what they're getting from you.

We've also seen a pretty strong impact for direct response marketers and their ability to actually drive action from these bigger channels. So it's definitely a marketing channel that is working and producing results. Whether you're driving brands or handling direct response, you have a path to find strong results either way.

Do you think that there's space in the market for creators coming from nothing and trying to build their way up amongst the existing stars?

Over the years the time to market has dropped significantly. The time between first creating a channel and hitting say, 500k subscribers has lessened a lot over the past five years. That's understandable because the platforms themselves have a lot more reach and daily active users than they ever have.

YouTube announced recently that the monthly active user number is up to 1.8 billion, Facebook has over two billion, and so on a high level you have the ability to reach more people than ever before.

What advice would you give to creators looking to take their brand to the level?

This isn't anything particularly new in terms of advice, but I think having a point of view and being consistent with it is important. If you're trying to build a following and get people to subscribe, you need to set an expectation for consumers and let them know what they're getting from you.

Creators that stay consistent can shape their brand around themselves, or they can build something that's separate from themselves a little. Either way, you need a user promise and you need to deliver on that on a consistent basis.

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Danielle Partis is editor of and former editor of She was named Journalist of the Year at the MCV Women in Games Awards 2019, as well as in the MCV 30 under 30 2020. Prior to Steel Media, she wrote about music and games at Team Rock.