From making videos in our scanty student rooms in Manchester to acquiring YouTube superfans in Lesotho, Southern Africa, our journey to (somehow) becoming content creators is a funny, if not fairly encouraging one for budding creatives.
Don't Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Our journey began when co-Founders, Hayel and Ndu, met at their beloved University of Manchester.
"University was a surprise - a far cry from the lazy depiction of young people in contemporary media. We often found ourselves amongst friends, passionately debating the issues affecting both us and the world at large. We were young, politically engaged, motivated and aspirational."
With graduation only months away, and the pressure of navigating a career in the real world setting in, we found ourselves applying to every graduate scheme going. We were unsure of the future and spent many a sleepless night discussing the possibilities.
Regardless, amidst the chaos of student life, one thing was clear. We wanted to create content. Content that would document what we, and so many others, were feeling and experiencing.
So, off we went with what little was left of our student loans, to Curry's, for the best (cheapest) camera that would allow us to capture the voices, thoughts and feelings of students in and around Manchester. We left with a Nikon D3100 and no idea on how to operate it.
YouTube tutorials became a lifeline. Alongside dissertation cramming and revising, we learnt the basics of shooting and editing, and took our camera around with us everywhere, ready to press record on any interesting discussions we could strike up with our peers. With all the footage we accumulated, we couldn't help but think - why don’t we start a Youtube channel ourselves?
And so we did. After hours of coming up with cringe-worthy names (Students Speak Up was one of them) we settled on Word on the Curb (shout out Rose)!
Our first upload to the channel was in September 2013 , after we had both graduated. We were back in London, away from a campus environment, but equipped with a camera and the desire to continue exploring youth culture in the UK. We decided to build a platform which does just that, initially, through the vehicle of spoken word. The channel quickly became the go-to platform for youth voices and opinion.
In 2014, we had our first viral moment with the release of a short film during Black History Month called What I Wasn’t Taught In School, in collaboration with the amazing Sam King. The video addressed the subpar (to put it nicely) education around black history. The video amassed over 1 million views over the first 14 days, across different platforms. However, we were quickly taught a lesson after the video was ripped by someone in America and uploaded onto their Facebook page; it went worldwide with 40 million views. Lesson learned? Always watermark your content! To this day we still receive messages of thanks and love, from Suriname to South Africa.
By this time we definitely knew where the focus and zoom on the camera was. We were awarded a Points of Light Award from David Cameron in 2015 (before he got cancelled) and Channel 4 approached us to help them draw more young people to their news programme. We soon realised this was a pain-point for a huge number of major brands and businesses who wanted to create content for a youth demographic but struggled to get engagement. That's where we stepped in - and, today, is where we stand.
Fast forward to 2021 and here we are, finally with a website, doing the same thing as before, but now full-time, and with an amazing team who also happen to be our friends (love to Jack, Kirsty, Amber, Giulia and Nourdin). We're not only a YouTube Partner, but alongside some of the biggest names in youth entertainment today, we were recognised in the #YouTubeBlack Creator Class of 2021 - a testament to our devotion to speaking to underrepresented communities.
That's it. That's how we went from the sleepless nights of student life, to the insomnia of entrepreneurship. With an audience 90% under the age of 34, we feel very lucky to work with brands and businesses to give them a place at the heart of youth culture through insight-led video content."
That’s us - we should have probably made a video about all of that given that we’re video first - but we thought we’d surprise you with our writing skills.