Episode #4 - Nate O’Brien


In this episode we chat with Nate O’Brien to discover what it takes to become a YouTuber, the importance of building a Personal Brand, and how to start investing in start-ups.

Nate O’ Brien is an American investor, entrepreneur, and internet personality. He is best known for his personal finance and lifestyle YouTube channel which has amassed 1.3 million subscribers and more than 50 million views. In addition to YouTube, Nate runs Roadrunner VC, a venture fund focused on early stage technology companies.

Journey to YouTube Stardom

YouTube was founded when Nate was 7 years old, and he grew up immersed in the platform. His fascination with watching content creators blow up on YouTube fueled his aspiration to become a YouTuber himself. Eventually, in 2017 he created his own channel.

From Giant Pumpkins to Finance

Nate shares that his journey wasn’t linear, and it never really is for anyone. Before establishing his main channel, he experimented with various content, including videos about growing giant pumpkins. His New Year’s resolution in 2017 was to commit himself to his personal brand channel and focus on finance-related content.

Building a Following

Building his initial following was challenging, and it wasn’t a smooth upward trajectory. He set incremental goals, from 10,000 subscribers in the first year (he only got up to 5,000 though) to surpassing 900,000 within a few years.

In his early days as a creator, he was obsessed with the YouTube algorithm and constant data analysis. The dedication to understanding and mastering the platform contributed to his initial success. It wasn’t always easy for him to speak on camera, and part of his motivation to film videos was overcome his struggle with stuttering and social anxiety.

Finding a Niche

Surprisingly, Nate has never actually gotten a viral video. He was always focused on a slow burn rather than viral content.

Nate found his lane by creating informative content, leveraging his academic background in finance. His goal was to create content to rank for search terms and provide valuable information to other finance students.

Building Wealth

Nate quickly recognized the limitations of solely relying on a personal brand, so he decided to venture into investing and build equity and wealth beyond the immediate cash flow generated by content creation.

Nathan’s initial foray into investing involved participating in a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) led by his fund partner, Sebastian. The most critical factor in his investment decisions is the founder and the team.

His “why”

When he started his YouTube channel, he was motivated by money to pay for college. Now he sees it as a game and enjoys the challenges he faces on his journey in accumulating wealth.

Time stamps:

00:27 – Dream profession for 7-year-olds
01:35 – Steps to becoming a YouTuber
02:24 – Hesitant to start a personal brand
02:50 – Going from 0 to 100
03:53 – Becoming a better speaker
04:37 – Finding your lane
05:27 – Past and present motivation
06:00 – Setting your milestones
07:10 – From creator to investor
08:25 – Getting started with investing
09:35 – Optimizing your time
10:37 – Know the founder
11:32 – Best platform to build your brand
12:45 – Being obsessed with YouTube
13:21 – Work-life balance
14:00 – Money, fame, power, or pleasure
14:51 – Losing the love for it
15:50 – What creator would you want to be
16:31 – The power of personal brand
17:50 – The pivotal moment
19:00 – Thoughts on caffeine
19:40 – Morning routine
20:38 – Advice for starting a business
21:38 – What does the future look like

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