Sometimes, failure might actually be the first step toward success. Just ask 19-year-old Nick Filchy, the founder of Bangerbuddy. He has made his mark on the Internet through his large social channels and powerful network. He is also very outspoken when it comes to schooling and higher education: He sees a college education as optional, not a requirement, to achieve success, and after talking to him, I understand why.
I had the chance to sit down with Filchy to understand what made him unique. Most startups end up failing in the first few years, so I wanted to figure out what his secret formula was and share the story so you can follow in his footsteps. Today, Filchy has almost one million followers and posts viral content every day. He works with world-class influencers and values his network, which drives his growth and online development. His insight is useful for others.
The truth is that many entrepreneurs’ startups don’t even see the light of day because the founders lose hope way too soon. For Filchy, his drive and motivation sparked his passion to continue swimming even though his original idea went to waste. He mentioned several times how you have to make things work.
When Filchy was 16 years old, he came up with the concept of building a mainstream party app where people can share the moment and connect with what’s happening around them. Filchy’s concept pre-dates and is similar to the Snapchat and Instagram location features, which launched years after Filchy’s app.
For edited and condensed excerpts from our conversation, keep reading.
Why did your app fail and how did you pivot? How did you overcome the mini-disaster you faced early on?
It was a poorly-designed app since it had very little funding behind it. It was paid for by my life savings when I was 16 years old – which barely added up to $5,000! Once that money was spent to create and promote the app and it didn’t get any traction, I felt like it was at a dead end. The key to overcoming this first disaster is that I didn’t lose hope or drive behind the idea. I just kept going and launched my brand on a pre-existing platform, and that’s when it popped.
I had 10K Instagram followers when I was transitioning from the failed app to a thriving brand, in hopes of growing a massive audience and being able to monetize it one day. In about two years, I increased from a 10k follower page to approximately a million. @bangerbuddy is a super active page, with 80m weekly impressions and an 8-9m weekly reach.
Because you’re young, we’re wondering what your parents think of your dreams and ventures?
My parents are foreign and gave me no choice but to go to college. If I didn’t, I’d be considered a disgrace to the family. But I knew college was hindering my business growth and time devotion to what mattered to me. I wanted it to grow and expand the brand but instead was forced to divide my time to focus on less important things such as writing papers and studying for exams.
I realized college just wasn’t teaching me how to grow my business. It was setting me up to be someone else’s employee for the rest of my life. I wasn’t cool with that.
A lot of people say they go to college and join fraternities and groups for connections and networking purposes, but I think that’s bullshit. I’ve built more relationships from talking to people on Instagram and being a member of Jetsmarter. On Jetsmarter, I fly on private jets and meet successful, influential, and like-minded people.
What motivates you to keep going and drives you to success?
When it comes to my personal and business life, it’s two-fold. I am motivated to prove my parents and society wrong about the value of a college education. I have a passion for saying that I am a success without a college education. In this day and age, everyone is brainwashed to believe that college is the only option and that if you don’t go, you are screwed. I strive to disprove that belief.
Second, my work and my business motivate me. Social media and e-commerce are competitive fields, and thankfully I got in at a young age, so I have a head start on the competition. Almost everyone these days is trying to do similar things to what I am doing, so it motivates me to stay on top and work hard to make sure no one catches up or surpasses me.
To make the dream a reality while also making money, we sell advertising slots and features on our large social media pages, market and host events, sell branded merchandise online, and open Shopify sites that dropship trending products and drive traffic to those sites or products via our social media.
We also spend thousands of dollars a week on buying advertising from other massive pages on social media for our page and our online store products.
Building and maintaining the social following while retaining the business are all skills I’ve learned along the way through experience, not from classes I took in college.
As a result of our focused efforts, we gain about 15-30k followers a week solely by using a technique called Shout for Shout, which is cross-promotion on Instagram.
How it works is that we post something on our page tagging another account similar in niche and size to ours and say something like, “Go follow @example for hilarious content!” While we do this, that corresponding page does the same thing for us and tags us in a caption to drive traffic to our page. We use our most viral and high-performing content when we do this, and it works like a charm. You sit back and watch yourself gain thousands of followers in a single day, or sometimes if you use the right post and right page, thousands of followers in a single hour.
How does Bangerbuddy differentiate itself in a crowded social media space?
A lot of Instagram accounts solely focus on selling products, but that’s where we’re different. Our page has a user-friendly ratio of quality content to ads. For every ad, we post at least 5-10 viral videos or pictures. We are even picky about what type of ads we allow on our page. We will turn down a client’s money if their ad is irrelevant to our audience. Other Instagram pages with sizeable followings will post any ad they are paid to do, and that pisses off their audience and leads to less growth and even a loss of followers.
We’ve done many successful events with significant artists. It started with house parties on college campuses. That got out of control and became a liability, so less than a year later we started booking legit venues and significant talent.
We also throw many successful 18+ college parties at bars and clubs on the east coast. We are working on expanding to parties nationwide and even worldwide. We want to tackle Canada next because Canadians love to party and the drinking age is 18 years old. Major American brands don’t touch Canada, so we see it as a new market waiting to be explored.
Today Bangerbuddy has dominated the market on the East Coast. They have worked with notable celebrities like Asap Ferg, Waka Flocka, Lil Pump, Ace Hood, Tory Lanez, French Montana, Famous Dex, Ski mask the slump god, The Slut Whisperer and many more.
Filchy reminded me that success can happen at any age, with any educational background, if you work hard and stay focused. He says that if you have a passion, pursue the dream and I couldn’t agree more! College will always be waiting for you.