Young Guns: How Howcast is Hitting it Big



In the do-it-yourself culture born of The Great Recession, making things yourself is chic, and Howcast finds itself in the zeitgeist sweet spot.

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It has more than 100,000 videos on its site so far—some useful, some amusing—that tell you how to do just about anything. Howcast Media is the brainchild of a few former Google (GOOG) employees who worked on the video team. When they realized there were millions of hits on instructional video, they decided to build a business around it.

Founded in 2008, Howcast is unique in the way it delivers basic content--and how it plans to make money.

Howcast Co-Founder and CEO Jason Liebman answer the 6 Shooter Q&A:

Q. Where were you the moment you decided your business plan?

A. At Google and YouTube, we saw that there was a tremendous amount of consumer demand for high quality instructional content across Google searches as well as YouTube playbacks. Additionally, we saw that advertisers were looking to spend media dollars across highly targeted, relevant content. We felt confident that there was a significant opportunity in the market to create a company that could take a fresh approach to content creation and technology.

Q. What was the one thing you didn't know that you had to bluff your way through?

A. I don't think I have bluffed my way through anything, except maybe my first job interview. The key to being successful at business is to constantly be thinking on your feet. Even if you haven't prepared for the exact question or curveball thrown in your direction during a pitch, if you stay calm and focused you can provide a targeted and strategic answer to something unexpected.

Q. What one life lesson did you learn that helped you build your business?

A. The impossible is always possible. It seemed like to get Howcast off the ground that we would have to figure out how to boil the ocean. But by taking a step back and approaching this mammoth task in a strategic manner, breaking down the steps, we realized not only was it feasible but how we could expand rapidly and be successful in the process.

Q. Who is your role model or inspiration?

A. As cheesy at it sounds - my parents. My parents were extremely driven to provide for my entire family, but at the same time extremely nurturing to every creative or business idea I had growing up. It's that philosophy that I've tried to pass on to our team. Although we're all driven, we support our team in being creative and trying to come up with new solutions. My parents taught me that if you provide an environment that fosters and supports the creation of ideas, it only fosters success. That's definitely the attitude that I have worked hard to emulate at Howcast.

Q. What do you wish you had more of: time or money?

A. Time. With more time I could schedule all the meetings I would like to, speak to all the people that I needed to, and attend all the events I would like to while still being able to maintain an active social life. I think one of the challenges with any start-up is trying to find the time to get everything done and everything done well. The great team at Howcast has definitely helped to manage all the opportunities that have been presented to us, but I think we could reach our goals even quicker if we had more time to be a part of more opportunities.

Q. What is the one word your employees would use to describe you?

A. Driven

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