The evil genius of Unnecessary Inventions creates products no one is asking for
Matty Benedetto is the creator of Unnecessary Inventions. Unnecessary Inventions solves problems that don’t really exist by creating products that no one is really asking for.
Each product is editorially shot to resemble a real marketing campaign for a product you can not get your hands on. He has nearly 650K followers on Instagram and over 100K subscribers on YouTube.
In this episode we talk about being self taught, his experience with Kickstarter, building on Instagram, YouTube, and why his willingness to just do the things he wants to do has gotten him to where he is today.
Transcript and show notes can be found here
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Matty Benedetto 0:00
It was really just a giant snowball that you know, within the first two weeks I already had 25,000 followers. So it was something that like, Okay, I have something here I need to strike while the iron is hot.
Jay Clouse 0:12
Welcome to Creative Elements, a show where we talk to your favorite creators and learn what it takes to make a living from your art and creativity. I'm your host, Jay Clouse. Let's start the show.
Hello, my friend. Welcome back to Creative Elements. I'm super, super excited to share this episode with you this week. And I wanted to start out with a quick shout out to Jay Barshop, who left an incredible review on Apple podcasts with the title, the best show of 2020 goes to and reads quote, this show is an absolute masterclass. In fact, you should cancel your masterclass subscription right now, Jay's got you covered and quote, that absolutely made my day. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Jonathan for the kind words. And not only that, but ratings and reviews goes so far and helping us to climb the charts and get on the radar of big name guests. So if you haven't already left a rating or review, please, please please do so. One of my goals for improving the show this year is to keep broadening our horizons a little bit. And I mean that in a lot of ways, including talking to creators who are building their businesses using different platforms. Which brings me to today's guest, Matty Benedetto.
Matty Benedetto 1:31
I call myself the evil genius of unnecessary inventions. I solve problems that don't exist by creating products that no one is asking for.
Jay Clouse 1:43
Matty is the creator behind the Instagram account and YouTube channel, unnecessary inventions. And some of those inventions include the iPhone, which is an iPhone case that attaches to your leg while you drive. The fidget backpack. pogo stick crutches, masks suspenders, the sock no more a device that removes your socks for you. And many, many more. Seriously, the guy has created several 100 unnecessary inventions.
Matty Benedetto 2:09
Growing up my mom always sort of called these things first world problems or uptown problems, just things that you know you think are an issue in your life. But when you really look at it and boil it down, it is completely not an issue or a problem that you actually have. And so I'm sort of creating products. To solve those problems. I'm either making the solution 10 steps longer by adding a product as the solution. Or it's just a product that never needs to see the light of day.
Jay Clouse 2:40
And Matty's unnecessary inventions get a lot of attention. His Instagram account has nearly 650,000 followers, and his YouTube channel has over 100,000 subscribers. And all of that has happened in just the last couple of years. Another one of his unnecessary inventions were the Crocs Gloves. And they were as you can probably guess, the gloves equivalent of Crocs shoes. And when that invention saw the light of day, not only did you get a lot of public attention, but he got attention from Crocs, too.
Matty Benedetto 3:10
So we all know the whole debacle with the Crocs, gloves, I made them, I got a cease and desist, went viral went viral again. And then I had a contest to rename the Crocs Gloves to just sort of make the people at crocs happy. And that's all we had to do. So I had a call for submissions for you guys to submit your best new name for the Crocs Gloves. And we finally have a winner. The new name of the Croc Gloves, oh, or the Gator Grips.
Jay Clouse 3:40
I could go on and on about these products. As I wrote this intro, my fiancee was laughing while she looked at them and her reactions ranged from this is hilarious. This is so fugly and this is amazing. All of it is just so well done, from the photos to the names, everything is just packaged perfectly.
Matty Benedetto 3:59
I would say like that's sort of, I think the core of unnecessary inventions is a lot of, you know, the final package of how I put together all of the inventions. It just works so well, the way I you know structure, the product photos and the products videos, giving all the products you know their own quirky name, doing a full product description as if you were reading it on a website. And I think that's sort of where the whole project shines. He does such a good job of making these products look so real, that you may be wondering if Maddie actually sells these products, we'll get more in depth into this in the interview. But for the most part, they aren't really intended for actual use. Behind the scenes, like if I move one inch filming one of these videos, the whole product falls apart, you know so it's much more of the the high level concept of it. I know how to to design the the essence of the product. You know, I might not have the engineering skills to make a ton of fully functioning and well engineered products.
Jay Clouse 4:59
This one is a lot of fun. In this episode we talked about being self taught his experience with Kickstarter, building on Instagram and YouTube, and why his willingness to just do the things he wants to do, has gotten him to where he is today. Matty was actually requested by Alec Dar in our Creative Elements, listeners group on Facebook. So here you go, Alec, thanks for the recommendation. And if you're not in our community already, I'd love for you to join and love to hear your thoughts on this episode. As you listen, take a screenshot you can find me on Twitter or Instagram @JayClouse, let me know you're listening. But now, let's talk to Matty.
Matty Benedetto 5:38
I started manufacturing products in China when I was 15 years old. My mom taught me how to crochet hats. I grew up winter skiing a lot. So my mom taught me how to crochet hats when I was 13. And then the next winter when I was 14, I made a website and people could buy in and I would custom make each hat. And after school, my hands were like falling off, I was crocheting so much. So then when I was 15, I transitioned all the production over to China. And then instead of doing sort of one off custom hats, I would create a collection of hats for the winter.
Jay Clouse 6:10
That's amazing from the standpoint of your parents fostering this in you when you're young? Do you remember a time when you recognize what you're doing as like entrepreneurship or being entrepreneurial?
Matty Benedetto 6:20
I think, you know, it's been something that's been like the core of what I do. My dad always tells a story that we went to a World Cup Ski race, you know, I'm five years old, I'm using my cute smile at the finish line and asking the competitors for their bibs. And so I would get their bids and ask them to sign it, making them think that I just wanted this as like a keepsake, and then I'd go to the parking lot, and I would sell them to all the people leaving the ski mountain that day, you know, and I always had these little, little sort of random hustles I did growing up. So it's just sort of my brain, I think has always been sort of wired that way that it wasn't sort of one day that I thought like, Oh, I'm gonna try and turn this into a business. It's just sort of been an evolution over the years of me sort of reinventing myself of whatever that new thing I wanted to create was. And then sort of over the years, I've just designed different products within that company, I expanded into gloves and other winter apparel. And then when I graduated college, I shifted that company into tech accessories, sort of taking my background in textiles. So all the tech accessories had some sort of element of fabric or something like that built in. And then in 2017, I think 16 I launched another company called Sondre Travel, where I started designing travel accessories, just sort of one day wanting to just do something new, I was like I could redesign a better travel pillow. I launched that on Kickstarter, and that did like 125 k in the first month on Kickstarter. So I've sort of been a self taught product designer building products and selling them online for about the past 15 years now. And I've sort of always had these ridiculous ideas in my head. And in the past, I would go ahead and I would make a sample maybe something for April Fool's Day, or maybe just a standalone thing to try and get like a viral hit to get some PR for some of the other products I was designing, I would get the sample made in China, I would get the physical sample, you know, three, four weeks later. And I'd be like, Okay, this is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. And I'm not gonna put it out there whatsoever. And so basically right up until unnecessarily started, I was running those two ecommerce businesses, just sort of designing stuff, you know, I have no employees, I just sort of do whatever I wanted to. And whatever I wanted to make, I made it and put it out into the world. And so it sort of transitioned, once I got a 3d printer in my studio space itself that instead of, you know, taking weeks and weeks to have one of these samples made in China, I could just mock up the design, hit it on my 3d printer and see it and be like, Okay, and then one day, I was just like, Okay, I'm just gonna put out this one invention idea I have on my personal Instagram, put it up on Reddit on my own Facebook, and it just, it was the start of unnecessary inventions whether I knew it or not.
Jay Clouse 9:18
And what was that one idea that you posted that day.
Matty Benedetto 9:20
The first one were called the air chops, and they were chopstick extensions for your air pods so they slid right on the ends of your air pods. You're going out to a sushi lunch you know you can listen to your music on the way and you'll never forget your chopsticks as well.
Jay Clouse 9:35
Amazing how many times have you used this since you made it?
Matty Benedetto 9:39
I have films like a few different versions and like once tik tok started taking off I did like film a new I've never functionally use. I've never been out in public I've never been seen in public with them on. So I come out with anywhere from one to four inventions per week. So from the idea in my head Add to the final product posted on social media. Sometimes it can be six hours. And you know the most, it's maybe like three days. So I guess you know, I'm in the studio, like, every day, every single day of the week. And it's something I love. So it's it's fun.
Jay Clouse 10:16
On those weeks where you have four ideas that you bring all the way through, do you have a consistent benchmark of I'm releasing two per week no matter what, and if I do four, I save those, or do you just share everything as soon as it's done?
Matty Benedetto 10:29
Yeah, I mean, basically, the second I hit export on anything, or I hit save on a photo, and the whole, you know, the whole set is done, it goes up brand deals, you know, sometimes those will be delayed, they have to get approved, above all that kind of stuff. But for the most part, once something is done, it's posted, you know, in less than an hour. And that mainly because once I'm done the content and done everything, my brain is already going on to the next one. So it's like, I I'm not going to be halfway building the next one be like, okay, now I have two posts, go back and post the last one, I'm pretty much like, you know, I'm, I'm fully all in on one idea, get it done, get it to completion and post it. And then right away, I'm already sort of going on the next one.
Jay Clouse 11:14
You've mentioned a couple times, like the package of everything that you're putting together here. For listeners who maybe haven't seen your your page yet, which probably isn't that many of them. What does the package look like when you're thinking about here's what I need to put together to have a fully fleshed out unnecessary invention,
Matty Benedetto 11:29
I fully design a generally working prototype of an invention that I have in my mind, you know, using 3d printing, woodworking moldmaking, whatever tools I have in my studio to make that come to life. And so, you know, in my head, you have to capture what that thing does within the first, you know, three to five seconds while someone's scrolling on Instagram. And sort of kind of the staple of unnecessary inventions. Is this deer in the headlights, Blue Steel? Like, I think I'm the sexiest person alive. But I also am questioning my life of why am I using this product? And that's sort of like, you know, using my face as sort of like the instant grabber that, you know, some people have seen my inventions at one point or another, probably and that, you know, when they see that kind of look, and that kind of bright poppy image, good colors, all that kind of stuff is sort of the the signature to unnecessary inventions.
Jay Clouse 12:28
Do you have a standard for how many images in the carousel? Or how long the video is? like is that codified at all?
Matty Benedetto 12:36
Yeah, so pretty much all of well, so the the early days of, you know, posting them to Reddit and all that stuff I always did four square photos in a grid. So it was like, so then it made one larger square photo. So pretty much all of my inventions are pretty much for photos. Sometimes if it's something I either really like, or it's a little more confusing, you know, I'll go like six or seven photos, and then the videos, I try to keep, you know, maximum 45 seconds. Or if I can get away with it, you know, like 20 seconds, you know, because all it is is just nailing home the idea, making someone laugh, and then making them want to share that invention, you know, sharing it to their story DM ing it to a friend, because then that's sort of like my new metric of how well an invention does is looking at how many shares or something that that invention gets to then you know, build the audience even more.
Jay Clouse 13:34
When you when you posted the the the chopsticks extension, and that picked up some steam. Talk to me about the aftermath of that. And at what point you decided maybe I should just do lots of this.
Matty Benedetto 13:46
Yeah, so the the biggest thing was that I posted it over on Reddit just in the funny subreddit. And I titled it, you know, like, I like to design stupid things. And I created chopsticks for your air pods. And like that, by the next morning, it was sort of front page of Reddit. And I was like, Whoa, and I didn't even have you know, the unnecessary inventions name. I didn't have anything like that. And someone in the comments there, posted on another invention idea was like, Oh, I wish I always had a coat hook with me. So then, within the next three days, I designed a coat hook that goes sort of inside of your collar and then extends out. So if you don't want to look like a nerd with a jacket tied around your waist, you have a coat hook hanging off the back of your neck. So then I sort of like Ollie looped it up being like hey, I was that guy a couple days ago and someone else told me to make this you know, sort of keeping it all within the same storyline. And again, went to the front page again. And so then it was what was my third one? I'm trying to think now I'm over. I'm at like 204 inventions and just over a year and a half so I can't keep track of them all. I did I did a third one and then that one did pretty well. And I was like, Okay, now I need to make an Instagram and try and pivot some of these people that are enjoying these into like my own audience, not necessarily something built on another platform. And that's when I came up with the Unnecessary Inventions name created the Instagram. And it was really just a giant snowball that, you know, within the first two weeks, I already had 25,000 followers. So it was something that like, Okay, I have something here I need to strike while the iron is hot.
Jay Clouse 15:34
When we come back, Matty and I talk about starting the unnecessary inventions Instagram account, and how he grew a following right after this. Welcome back to my conversation with Matty Benedetto of Unnecessary Inventions. When you see Mattie's inventions on Instagram, it feels like such a great obvious fit for the platform. And it feels like he was really aggressively building momentum. So I wanted to learn more about his headspace as he was just starting the Instagram account. Did you consider other platforms? Did you think this is going to be a business?
Matty Benedetto 16:05
You know, at that point, I wasn't thinking in that space, I still think of Instagram as sort of like the core experience of unnecessary inventions that that's like where, basically, when I'm developing the comp content, I still think Instagram first, like I still am thinking in square ratio, and all that kind of stuff. And everything in my mind sort of branches off from there. I think that Instagram just has a very positive outlook. And I think that also with the meme culture on Instagram, I think it sort of really fits into a nice little corner by itself. Within the Instagram platform.
Jay Clouse 16:44
You said that things started to snowball, and within the first couple of weeks, you had like 25,000 followers on there. Was that from the posts on Reddit? or How did you get to that point with a new profile?
Matty Benedetto 16:54
Yeah, so that was that was through. So Reddit and Imgur, I also kind of started posting the inventions over on Imgur, and we just sort of try to authentically, you know, not trying to be like, go follow me here being like, oh, did you see my other one or someone would like post an invention idea. And I'd be like, Oh, well, I did something similar, and then link to the Instagram profile or something like that. And then, you know, once I sort of built up that initial, you know, first couple week following, then a few other of the meme pages on Instagram would then feature my inventions, which were now all in that Instagram platform, so that it was an easy, easy next step for someone that saw it on a meme page or something like that, then instantly, were at my unnecessary inventions Instagram profile, and would then follow.
Jay Clouse 17:43
Something that is sticking out to me about the story so far is you're just kind of going at these things and trying stuff, you know, from posting it on Reddit, which to me, I'm not a big Reddit guy. And Reddit just feels scary. Like the idea of posting something on Reddit like scares the shit out of me, because I just think that people are going to banned me from every subreddit, and I've gone forever. So how much of that is built from, like your adventures as a kid? Getting autographs from the ski athletes? Where's that come from?
Matty Benedetto 18:12
I think one thing is that I'm probably not afraid of failure. And that I mean, the whole essence of unnecessary inventions is for you to laugh at me. And so to me, I don't think I can fail necessarily. And I guess I just don't have the fear of failing. So with that in mind, I will try and do anything, you know, no matter what comes to my mind, you know, even if I think it's something now, like with this huge audience, if I want to make an invention because I in my brain think it's funny, but I'm like, Okay, these people aren't gonna get the underlying joke I'm trying to make, I will still put it out there and that it's, I don't have the fear of not trying something because I don't think it's gonna land a particular way. So I think just trying to put anything and everything out there has been probably the largest success of you know, getting the whole ecosystem of unnecessary inventions to where it is today.
Jay Clouse 19:09
And following along with the story, you started the Instagram page, it starts to snowball. You're getting followers, these meme pages are starting to share it. What impact did that have on the time you're spending on your e commerce businesses?
Matty Benedetto 19:22
With Sondre travel? I built the business a lot around Kickstarter launches. So I did my first one was the voyage pillow then I did the voyage bag, then I did a beach chair. So it was all these sort of bigger launches with then kind of smaller like in between that I would launch like a wallet and a travel organizer. So it'd be like these, you know, anchor anchor products launched on Kickstarter with these small accessories in between. and I had a full new travel collection already planned. So this time it was going to be like this five piece travel kit, and I was getting ready to launch that in May of 2019 and And then I had like, two in a row that just went crazy viral from, you know, then made it into all of these PR articles. And so then I just scrapped that whole Kickstarter campaign. And I was just thinking, Okay, I just don't have the time to put into it. And I was getting recognized enough that I didn't want to launch the Kickstarter and everyone being like, Wait, isn't that that weird invention guy, like, what is this like travel collection that he now has. So then I just sort of put all of my time into unnecessary inventions. And the two e commerce brands have gotten to a point that they were selling a lot on Amazon. So I sort of just kind of put everything on autopilot, automating everything, mostly to Amazon still got sales through my direct website. So you know, it was, you know, a half hour hour a day, just shipping those orders that I had come in. But other than that, I developed no new products, I you know, everything just sort of hit a crossroad where I just sort of like was on the train, train track, and then the train line change. And I just sort of kept going on that line.
Jay Clouse 21:03
Did you have any, like cognitive dissonance of these two identities of Well, I'm this, I'm a product designer who creates products that we sell through e commerce, and I'm also a product designer who creates products that nobody's going to buy. And I'm explicitly saying you shouldn't buy.
Matty Benedetto 21:17
I think now like, this is like my calling, but I think this is what I've always wanted to do. So it's like, it was more of the like, how do I ditch this internet salesman and turn into what I am today.
Jay Clouse 21:29
Okay, so talk to me then about economics. Because if you're going from I'm selling products for profit that are going to have margin to I'm creating products just to create photos and videos of them, put them on Instagram to get attention. How did you think about what that meant for you, like, surviving and, and being able to do this over even shorter medium term.
Matty Benedetto 21:50
So the the biggest turning point, you know, I sort of so from that time period of May of like, ditching the Kickstarter, through the summer, I was like, Alright, let me just go at this, I have money saved, I'm still getting income from sales through Amazon and stuff like that. And then in September of 2019, is when I got my first brand deal. And so I was already, like, I watch more YouTube than any other platform, I don't really watch all that much Netflix or cable TV, like I just watched YouTube, and I understand and know, you know, some of these people who have YouTube money and and the money that can be behind it. And so I sort of had that in my brain as the end possibility is that like, if I work at this long enough, build up a large enough following, that I will eventually hopefully attract brands collaborate with them. And that is where I could start earning more income. Yeah, so September of 2019, I got my first brand deal with Call of Duty. And they were launching the new Call of Duty in October. And so they just wanted me to create an invention that basically could inspire people to want a game all weekend long when the new Call of Duty came out. So I built this sort of Swiss Army Knife controller that had like a stick of deodorant, it had a cup, it had a lockbox for your phone, it had like all these things that you could sit on the couch all weekend long, and just game all all weekend. And so and when they went so basically had a marketing agency as a middleman. And I had no idea. They asked like, sort of what's the budget? And so I just sort of threw a number at them. And they're like, oh, okay, well, we kind of really liked your work, and you're worth more, so we'll give you twice that. So I was like, Oh okay, now I sort of know what my baseline is that like what, you know, a campaign like this is able to spend, which really helped. And so then like, a month later, I did a invention with Bud Light. And so it's just sort of again, just snowballed that, you know, all these brands, you know, slowly found out about me through one way or another. And that's sort of how you have to picture the content game is you have to constantly be putting out content for the brands to find the content to want to work with you, you know, so if I go, you know, 15 inventions without a sponsor, you know, that 15th one is going to be the one that a large agency ends up seeing, and they're like, oh, he would be perfect for this campaign. So it's just sort of a content game is a non stop grind.
Jay Clouse 24:16
And these these that are coming in these brand sponsorships that are coming in, those are inbound, for the most part,
Matty Benedetto 24:21
for the most part, Bud Light was actually I just dm because Bud Light had just kind of started getting into the Instagram meme game. I just DM them, I just I think the DM just said, hey, let's make an invention together. And within a month, we had one live. So for the most part, a lot of times, I have you know, I have hundreds of ideas for inventions, and I'll reach out to brands that I it might be something too expensive that I don't want to purchase for the video or something like that. And I'll try to reach out to brands that way. But for the most part, it's been inbound,
Jay Clouse 24:56
Were there accounts that you had been following and maybe subconsciously Might have helped shape that strategy? Or who do you look towards now to figure out who's doing Instagram really well, and what what can I learn from them?
Matty Benedetto 25:08
Yeah, I mean, so there's, I, again, kind of similar, I just sort of do my own thing, I think. I mean, there's definitely, obviously, people on Instagram that are kind of in my similar sphere. There's a girl Nicole McLaughlin, she makes kind of these like ridiculous shoes. And she she's sort of, she's similar to unnecessary inventions, but focus only in the fashion industry. So she makes these like, over the top, you know, she made a full pair of pants out of Ziploc bags that had, you know, sandwiches in it. And then there's people like Pablo row, Chad, who is kind of strictly the same speeder, but only in graphic design. And so I definitely take inspiration from what they're doing. But I think I just sort of, I think I've sort of found my Avenue, and I'm just sort of like, really, really sticking to it.
Jay Clouse 25:59
I'm thinking more from the lens of, you know, you mentioned, I want to capture people's attention within the first three to five seconds more, I have this consistent, like, Blue Steel look that I give that people can recognize as me, I am thinking, I'm just wondering how you came to those decisions. And whether that was just through trial and error. Or if there's some, there's some place that you learned some of this from?
Matty Benedetto 26:20
Well, the Blue Steel look actually came from when I posted the air sticks, the first one, I was super hung over and it was like, I started, like, accidentally was just, like, tired and out of it and just sort of like had this blank stare forward. And enough people commented on it that I was like, Okay, I'll just keep this, you know, so it was just sort of things that have happened and adapted over the, over the time of doing this and just seeing, you know, I always do something to get people's reaction. Nothing is accidental. I think, you know, when I'm filming my videos, or doing things, I always try and leave little easter eggs, because again, you know, more comments, you know, gets picked up into the algorithm. So yeah, I don't know, I guess I just I just sort of trial and error over the years of just sort of doing what I think will work. And if it doesn't, then take that and move on to the next thing and try something new.
Jay Clouse 27:13
As we're talking listeners can't see this, but you're in your studio. It looks like and you mentioned that you're you're kind of a one man band. Have you been doing your own video and photo too?
Matty Benedetto 27:23
Yep, so just me on a tripod. I've had I've had someone helped me maybe for like two or three I did an invention in a car. I made a car top cup holder. So it suction cup to the the top of your car. So if you leave your coffee cup up there, it will still be there when you get to your destination. So I had someone help me with that. Oh, and that actually that that invention. Similar to Reddit, I just saw there's a there's a Reddit forum for just Burlington, Vermont. And enough people sort of know and see have seen my inventions and know I live in town and I posted anyone have a Tesla I can borrow for one of my invention videos. And some dude, let me borrow his new P100D for the day. And yeah, so again, just like putting it out there. You know, I didn't necessarily think I was gonna get someone to I was like looking at Turo of renting one too. But I was like, why don't I just see if I can get someone to give me one for free. So some dude, just let me borrow his Tesla for the day. So just like, again, just putting something out there? And if someone says yes, they say yes. And if they don't, then it's moving on to the next thing.
Jay Clouse 28:28
I think I heard you in another interview mentioned that you had a similar story with a private jet at one point. Is that true?
Matty Benedetto 28:34
Yeah. So that was also so that was the launch of the voyage pillow on Sunday travel. I was like, what would be a good setting I was like, because, again, like, we were talking before we started recording today is that this morning, I was filming one of my inventions. It was 7am on in and I went downtown, here in Burlington, but I just like don't want to deal with the people just like I just want to film my video and get out of there. So I was like, okay, for the launch of the voyage bill. I don't want to like go to an airport and film, you know, in a terminal with all these people. And right next to the regular airport was a private airport. So I emailed them. I was like, Hey, I'm launching a product. I was like, would you guys have any planes or something I could use. And it just so happened, this $10 million jet was sitting there getting serviced. And so they're like, yeah, you can use this plane for the day. And so, you know, I got to go to the hangar and film this whole video for free. Just because I asked and put it out there. You know, I think, you know, if someone just doesn't reply, I feel like, you know, there's can always be a plan B but you know, might as well shoot for the stars for planning.
Jay Clouse 29:37
This continued pattern of just asking, has that worked for you with PR like, do you go seek out PR for things like this?
Matty Benedetto 29:44
Uh, yeah. So similarly, you know, I like I probably send like 20 Instagram DMS a day. You know, whether it's a brand I want to work with or something I want to get featured in or there's one that just happened last Last week that if it comes to fruition is going to be crazy. I can't say anything about it yet. But again, it's just like, putting it out there. And you know, eventually something's gonna stick that that's gonna help move the needle forward of whatever you're trying to accomplish.
Jay Clouse 30:16
A lot of people, myself included, we think about the idea of just asking for some of these things that we want, and we get so afraid. But at the same time, I've never had like such an adverse reaction that it's like, why did I do that? Have you ever gotten any type of negative reaction from asking for something?
Matty Benedetto 30:33
I don't think so. I mean, I think I mean, the worst, I think reaction is just no reply. You know, you might do a follow up and you feel like you're annoying. But, you know, after, you know, two or three times, if you hit someone up, and they don't get back to you like, Alright, well, I'll move on to the next thing. And then if someone does get in touch with you, and it doesn't work, I mean, typically, they're just like, this isn't for us. But good luck. You know, I think everything I've asked for I maybe hasn't been too crazy. But But uh, yeah, I guess it just I've never been afraid to just sort of ask someone for for something that might help.
Jay Clouse 31:12
After a quick break, Matty and I talked about his jump to YouTube, and what his sights are set on today. So stick around, and we'll be right back. Welcome back. At this point in our conversation, it may seem like everything Matty touches turns to gold. And you can look at his story and think that he just has a knack for creating new products, and maybe even some luck and helping them catch the public eye. But when you dig deeper, I think what you actually see is a guy who has learned to think like an entrepreneur since he was a kid. He's a guy who's worked very, very hard for a long time to teach himself a wide variety of skills, including product design, textiles, 3d printing, marketing, photo and video. It feels like Matty's success has actually been realized through many, many years of teaching himself new skills, and just doing the things that he's interested in.
Matty Benedetto 32:00
Yeah, so it definitely has been that of just like, you know, in college. So in college, I skied a lot. And my friends were, you know, semi professional freestyle skiers. So I wasn't as good as them. And so I would have the camera out. And I filmed them and edit made edits of them skiing and stuff like that. And so yeah, so it's just been that. And then, you know, designing products, if I wanted to make something just kind of slowly learning 3d CAD, and it's just been sort of slow, picking away at something in my brain that I want to see made or see in a physical form or see in a digital form. I'll just go to YouTube, and you can literally learn absolutely anything.
Jay Clouse 32:48
On this train of thought of like skill acquisition. That's been a big part of my story, too. I haven't had nearly the success you have online. But sometimes I question like, what if instead of taking the time to acquire the skill and do it badly for a long time and release like subpar stuff? What if I just hired a professional to do it for a while? Would that have been faster? Do you ever think about that the trade offs of doing all of the process yourself? Even versus bringing somebody in to help with parts of it?
Matty Benedetto 33:15
Yeah. And I guess it's it's been interesting, over the years, sort of as an entrepreneur as well, that I've never had any employees, I've never done anything like that. And I've had people over the years, like, why don't you just hire someone to ship your orders? You know, I would sometimes, you know, a couple years ago, when my iPhone accessories were were pretty big. You know, I would spend hours a day at Christmas chipping orders. But I guess it's just an I guess, I don't exactly know something, and why it's ingrained in me that I just sort of like controlling the whole process. And that it's also, you know, giving me the freedom that if I don't want to do anything for the next three days, I don't have to do anything for the next three days. And that there's not someone sitting there being like, well, where the hell is Matt today? It's the trade offs of I might have 10 days straight, where I'm grinding nonstop. But then if I wanted to take seven days off, I could take seven days off.
Jay Clouse 34:11
Yeah, I totally get that I have the exact same narrative in my head. And then the devil's advocate of myself to myself is like, Yeah, but if you're the boss, do you need to answer those people where you are the last three days? Like, does that really matter? Or is that just a like a guilt that I'm putting on myself?
Matty Benedetto 34:27
Jay Clouse 34:27
Is that the exact same narrative? Well, I want to talk about I want to talk about YouTube here in a second. But one last point on Instagram, I want to kind of wrap things up with if somebody is out there. And a lot of listeners of this show. They're not doing these inventions, the scale that you are, but they might be doing drawings or artwork or all kinds of stuff that they think is a good fit for Instagram. What are some of the things that you've learned about Instagram that you'd pass on to them that they should know if they're looking to build a following on the platform?
Matty Benedetto 34:53
I would say similar to so what I mentioned is just shareability. I think that today is one of the biggest things that if you're looking for growth, you know, having content that's easily consumed and easily shared, that it's something that when someone sees it, they enjoy it, and they want to double tap, but then also that they want to then dm it to a friend and be like, well check this out. And so I guess the that, that also encompasses the way you package it, you know, if you want your content to be shared, it has to be think of what you would want to share to someone else. So kind of thinking about that overall package of how you want your work to be portrayed, and putting it out there that allows other people to, you know, instantly you have such a little time to capture someone's attention. And having having that content just very quickly and easily understood. For people.
Jay Clouse 35:52
When you say easily consumed, you know, people might think, well, it's photos and videos and the videos autoplay, how could it get easier than that? But what what do people make, as far as mistakes go that make their content harder to consume? That should be?
Matty Benedetto 36:05
I would say, you know, like, Don't bury the lede, like, you know, with my invention videos, like a lot of time, I will put, you know, within the first 30 seconds, it'll basically be a teaser for what is later in the video. So like, as they're scrolling by, they see that thing that is going to make them want to say like, wow, don't film a video where you know, the payoff is going to be one minute in and 45 seconds of that the person's like, what am I watching right now. And then it's like, oh, this is what it is, you know, you want to, you know, you can, you can do that if you sort of tease it up front. And so they sort of know, you know, if it's a time lapse of you building something, and if someone hasn't, you know, say you pop up in the Explore page, and someone is seeing your video and you for the first time, and they're like, what is this person building versus they see this amazing woodwork table right off in the first 10 seconds. And they're like, well, that thing's crazy. And then it cuts to the the process of a time lapse of you building it, then they already know what to expect for the content. And they'll sit around I think longer to enjoy that content to then maybe want to share it.
Jay Clouse 37:12
I think we also like to close loops, you know, so if you start off with like, here are the crocs gloves, now we're going to transition. So being made, yeah. Sorry, that we're gonna transition into the the time lapse of of being made, you're like constantly trying to fill in the gap of like, I think this is what's going to happen next, because I know the end state and I can see where it is right now. I'm gonna say, I'm gonna imagine what happens next. So when did you start going into YouTube too?
Matty Benedetto 37:37
Well, that's a great transition, because the pretty much my YouTube channel launched, I posted some of my invention videos that I had already done on Instagram, to YouTube. And then I sort of launched the YouTube channel right around when the croc gloves came out. And so that was maybe like the second sort of behind the scenes. This is how I built this invention type video. And then it kind of worked out perfectly that I so if anyone doesn't know, and I'm getting a cease and desist from crocs for this invention, and, you know, controversy, I got a bunch of articles everyone linked to the video of me building the gloves and all that kind of stuff. So sort of again, right place, right time, right invention, sort of that perfect storm of everything coming together, which then catapulted you know, the YouTube channel to a certain level. And then you know, the second month YouTube added me and the the Explorer page as a creator on the rise, you know, so is like, again, these things that just snowballed and I grabbed hold and and rode the train.
Jay Clouse 38:44
Did you ask for that Explorer page, or it was at discovered by their team?
Matty Benedetto 38:48
Nope, that was that was something that, uh, yeah, YouTube is like, I don't know, is like a deep black hole. I feel like you can't get anything you want. You are at the mercy of the algorithm and anything on YouTube. So yeah, so it's just a happenstance of getting on that explorer page. And then that was another big jump. And so I was just sort of been a slow a slow process. But yeah, YouTube is, YouTube's a tough game. It's a it's a lot of work.
Jay Clouse 39:15
How long did you think about it before you actually pulled the trigger? And what eventually told you like, okay, I should do this.
Matty Benedetto 39:21
Well, what was funny is that, you know, the start of 2019. So, unnecessarily inventions started in March. And in like, January, the start of the year, I was like, I want to do something new. I was like, it'd be fun to do a YouTube channel to show people how I build like, build things, but in that, in that mindset, you know, I was thinking of like, doing videos and tutorials like how to make a product in China and like, you know, more concrete, you know, maybe educational type content. And I kind of had a list of some ideas of videos, but I just didn't know how to talk to a camera and film myself and do all that kind of stuff. So, as the Instagram took off, I sort of knew that YouTube money that could be there, and that knowing brand deals that could be coming, if I built this to a certain platform are going to want sort of a portfolio of where you know, this campaign is going to live, rather than it just being a Instagram integration, that it would be something that could live across multiple different channels. And that I knew, being a scary stoic looking person was not going to translate the same to into YouTube, as it did on Instagram with the product photos. So I knew you know, I had to have a different format that would work for YouTube and sort of being more of that personable, upbeat, kind of behind the scenes videos, I knew would work better over on that platform.
Jay Clouse 40:48
Hasn't been easy. And maybe it's even hard to attribute this, but has been easy to port the Instagram audience over to YouTube,
Matty Benedetto 40:55
it has not been super easy. I you know, I think it is difficult that like, once people are in our app, they're enjoying that app experience. And a lot of times it is just difficult to, you know, pick someone up and be like, Hey, come on over here. And now enjoy this long form content while you are just mindlessly scrolling. So yeah, so that definitely has been a difficult thing, you know, how many people are going to swipe up in an Instagram story to want to watch a 10 minute YouTube video. So it's just sort of, I think, building the recognize the ability of myself in that, like, if someone came across me on their homepage on YouTube, or something that they might click on it, because they recognize me. But yeah, that's what that's being discovered and getting people to your YouTube channel. And subscribing is, is a difficult thing. I think, compared to Instagram, I think people are a little more lacks, and, and don't carry as much weight to their who they follow on Instagram. But I feel like people carry more weight within their, you know, subscribe box on YouTube, and that they cherish it a little more that they aren't going to subscribe to every last little thing.
Jay Clouse 42:06
I have this story, I tell myself that the YouTube audience generally is a different person than the Instagram audience, which is, you know, obviously, like, there's a million different types of people on both platforms. But does it feel like a similar subscriber on both platforms? Or does it feel like inherently different the type of people that are subscribing on YouTube?
Matty Benedetto 42:24
For my audience, it seems pretty similar. You know, people aren't coming to my YouTube channel to like, Okay, I'm going to learn today how to make a pair of selfie sandals, you know, they aren't going there for educational DIY content. They're going there for the entertainment aspect of seeing exactly how I took this one idea and ended up at the final product. So I think for my audience, it's rather similar in that, like, you know, they're all there for the joke of it all. They're not there to, to necessarily take it, you know, so seriously, and that they just kind of want to sit there and enjoy it.
Jay Clouse 43:05
I have a lot of guests on the show who are writers and bloggers and they talk about how much they live and die by email because they just really want to own that contact information. Instagrams obviously difficult to do that YouTube's a little bit closer. But how much do you think about that and your relationship to your audience on these other platforms?
Matty Benedetto 43:23
Yeah, the only time I really started thinking about it. So I did launch one, a big launch for one of my inventions I launched on Kickstarter was the jigsaw puzzle coffee table. So basically, the entire surface of the coffee table is also a jigsaw puzzle. So it's like IKEA directions on steroids. And so I launched that on Kickstarter this summer. And sort of a few months leading up to me wanting to launch that was the first time and it was like, Okay, if I really want to turn this audience into it, I was I was a little concerned, like, you know, everyone has just been used to sitting back and enjoying my inventions as content. And that how many of these people would actually convert into, you know, because every single invention, I post them, it's like, oh, I would buy that I would buy that. It's like, what would they? Right, exactly. And so then, and I knew sort of working on the Kickstarter platform, you know, five times before, knowing that that first like three day push is sort of the most important thing for the momentum of your campaign. So that was the first time I started collecting emails on my website, and I got it. I got a few 1000 for the early launch of the Kickstarter, which ended up doing 105 k in sales, which not too bad in a month.
Jay Clouse 44:40
Not too bad.
Matty Benedetto 44:41
And so, I guess a social audience isn't I guess I don't have as many things to sell them in that like I've thought about doing like a weekly recap email being like, you know, the unnecessary newsletter where it's like, here's the inventions I made. Here's the YouTube videos I made, but I guess I'd have to test it out that I don't know if putting that out would then get people to be like, Oh, I'm gonna go watch the video on YouTube now.
Jay Clouse 45:05
And you know, these people are talking about their model isn't brand deals, sponsorship deals, their model is I'm creating things to sell directly to the audience as opposed to helping get other people in front of that audience. When you think long term about your business model. Are you bullish on the sponsorship and advertising side of things? Or? Or what do you think in the long term,
Matty Benedetto 45:28
I guess I don't think long term I guess, I think, I think invention to invention that's like the, I know what invention I'm posting today. And I don't know the next one. So it's like, I am very sort of living in the moment and doing what I'm doing now. And I know that I've done it long enough for now that I've been able to make things work. And that I know that I will find a way in the future to make things work. And so I guess I'm never too concerned with sort of what what is what will be or what is going to be I'm just sort of focused on what I'm doing right now and how that's working. But one thing sort of on the creator side of things is that I've just started testing last week is an app called Community. And so basically, I have my own phone number now. And I have it on my profile. So people can, you know, my Instagram DMs can sometimes be a mess. And so people can now text me. And so it's been a lot of fun, actually. So you I already have a couple 100 subscribers, and people can just text me ideas for inventions or they can just say What's up? Or they can say what are you building now and, you know, I can just shoot them a quick message back, which has been really fun, just sort of creating, making people know that I'm just a real person behind all of the inventions, you know, building all this stuff. And that if in the future, I do want to do something, I can, you know, segment our batch all these people and send them a mass text saying, Hey, I have a new Kickstarter out. So kind of creating it more on a one to one relationship rather than a sales, the relationship.
Jay Clouse 47:06
I really, really enjoyed this conversation with Matty. Instagram is pretty boring to me. And so getting someone on the show to talk about strategy and what matters on the platform taught me a lot. But if there's one thing I really take away from this conversation, is that I'm often holding myself back. Just like we talked about. I have so much success just asking for things. I often prevent myself from doing so. Matty is an incredible model of what's possible when you do great, interesting work. have a vision for what you want, and ask for it. If you wanna learn more about Unnecessary Inventions, you can follow him @unnecessaryinventions on Instagram, Youtube, for unnecessaryinventions.com links are in the show notes. Thanks to Matty for being on the show. Thank you to Emily Clouse for making the artwork for this episode. Thanks to Nathan Todhunter for mixing the show and Brian Skeel for creating our music. If you like this episode, you can tweet at me @JayClouse and let me know and if you really want to say thank you, please leave a review on Apple podcasts. Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.