Welcome to Creators Going Pro, where in partnership with Semaphore — a creator-focused family of companies providing business and financial services to social media professionals — we profile professional YouTube stars who have hit it big by doing what they love. Each week, we’ll chat with a creator about the business side of their channel, including identifying their Semaphore Moment — the moment they truly went pro.
If you’re leery of heights, you might want to take a moment to prepare yourself, because today’s pro YouTube creators have made a career of parkouring around some of the world’s loftiest locales. Like this Hong Kong rooftop. And this London rooftop. And this Paris rooftop.
This roof-traversing (and cliff-traversing, and ocean-traversing…) team is seven-man, U.K.-based group STORROR: brothers Max and Benj Cave, brothers Callum and Sacha Powell, and their close friends Drew Taylor, Toby Segar, and Joshua Burnett-Blake. Together, they’ve been making YouTube videos since 2010, and have gone viral a number of times, most recently for their video chronicling a heart-pounding rooftop escape from security guards in Hong Kong (which has so far netted 87 million views).
The team’s YouTube channel currently has 3.6 million subscribers, and brings in between 20 and 40 million views each month. That loyal fanbase prompted STORROR to debut two full-length documentaries, Supertramps and Roof Culture Asia, and launch its own line of freerunning apparel (newest lookbook here).
2019 is bringing a shift in STORROR’s focus, and another new facet to its business — as well as something mysterious to do with the number 10. To see what’s coming down the pike, check out our chat with the team below.
Tubefilter: Tell us about how STORROR came together. How did you decide to launch your passion into a business?
STORROR: Parkour was introduced to us in 2005 thanks to a TV show called Jump Britain. This was our first experience with parkour as a form of sport, and there was something different about it.
Almost straight away, we all independently took it upon ourselves to get outside and emulate what we saw these guys doing. We were hooked — not on the adrenaline, but on the love of moving and the sense of achievement we got from it.
Max and Benj, and Sacha and Callum, are two sets of brothers. Drew actually met Benj at secondary school, and we have all been pretty much been growing up together since the age of 12. There’s a real bond that comes from meeting people who are passionate about the same thing that you are — this is what happened when the seven of us got together to train and have fun. We quickly become known as the STORROR boys.
Deciding to turn STORROR into a business really came from necessity. We knew we didn’t want to do anything else — so in order to be able to do parkour and travel as much as possible, we knew we had to somehow make money from what we were doing.
Tubefilter: What made you choose YouTube as the place to share your content? What was the catalyst for you deciding to start a channel?
STORROR: We all had our own individual channels where we just uploaded training montages, really as progression markers, but it wasn’t until creating our group YouTube channel that STORROR really started. That’s when we realized the uniqueness of us as a team of friends. Through vlogging, our personalities and the stories we created together really resonated with our audience, and this became the catalyst.
We have literally been in life-or-death situations together countless times — how many groups of friends can say that? That sort of intensity doesn’t leave much room for judgment. It’s an incredible amount of trust we have in the team and its ability to keep moving through the toughest of times, and we’ve documented and shared it all via our channel. That foundation of a solid group of friends heading toward a common goal is such a key part of our longevity.
Tubefilter: After launching your channel, you also launched a STORROR clothing brand. Why did you take the leap and add that facet of your business?
STORROR: Our YouTube content and what people watch of us online is just one element of what we do. STORROR is a business. If we are not working on new designs for our clothing line, we could be consulting on movie or TV projects, or planning our next trip!
The first STORROR T-shirt came about two years after launching our channel. It was an obvious way to bring in money to fund what we were doing. We borrowed money from our parents to pay for the first ‘S-tee,’ which was so successful we managed to have them paid back in a week! The audience we have built from YouTube directly correlates to how many people want to buy our clothes, so it’s massively important for us.
Tubefilter: When did you get your first check for online video revenue? How much was it? What about your first check outside of AdSense?
STORROR: It took us almost seven years to hit the one million subscriber mark, which was in March this year. (We’re now at 3.6 million subscribers.) So, ad revenue has never been much for us until recent years. You have to remember that since we’re a team of seven, everything we earn has to support seven guys. We think our first ever check was less than $250, but it was something!
Tubefilter: How do you approach sponsorships?
STORROR: We’ve worked tirelessly to build the STORROR brand. Our motto when it comes to working with brands is that it must be mutually beneficial. We like to consider any brand partnership as a value-add to what we currently do and that we must be confident we can authentically bring a fresh and exciting lens to which to view their message.
Tubefilter: What was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were all professional YouTube creators?
STORROR: We never thought of ourselves as YouTubers. We were always a parkour team who did YouTube — that is, until we started uploading consistently and saw the benefits from it. Now we post every Monday at 5 p.m.! That realisation came for us in late 2016.
Tubefilter: Can you share some of your favorite filming experiences?
STORROR: There are honestly too many memories over the last eight years to even begin to accurately define our favourites. We’ve had the opportunity to tick off some team bucket list destinations, creating incredible memories and thankfully insane content. There are always some experiences which get mentioned frequently when asked questions like this — we loved our project in Israel and Palestine, the monkey parkour project in India was amazing too, and more recently coaching kids in the favelas of Brazil was a wonderful experience.
Tubefilter: Do you ever have a set budget for videos? I’m particularly thinking about videos where you fly to places like Hong Kong or Japan. How do you budget for your channel overall?
STORROR: We have never set budgets for YouTube content — we just buy what we need to make it happen, and it’s never very much. Parkour is free to do, so really, it’s only ever flights.
Roof Culture Asia, our second feature documentary, was budgeted again only for expenses — we didn’t pay ourselves a penny for making that film. That’s the kind of commitment it takes to make something as special as Roof Culture Asia.
Tubefilter: What’s your production schedule like? How often do you film? Do you work set hours?
STORROR: We upload every Monday five. This is literally our religion: we can’t miss a Monday, so the edit and filming schedule revolves around that. Sometimes we get four videos in a week and can relax, sometimes we film and edit the video on Sunday. Got to get it done!
Tubefilter: Can you let us know how many people are on your team? Do you have an editor, etc? Do you have any employees? What are their roles and when did they bring them on board? What about a manager or network? Trying to get a sense of the full crew here, as that’s a really interesting component for our readers.
STORROR: The seven of us all train parkour, all film and CAN all edit… but really the only two worth mentioning in terms of editing skills are Toby and Sacha. They are genuinely world-class, and we’re so lucky to have them as part of the team.
As part of the wider team, we also have an accountant, more recently a customer service assistant, and we are managed by the amazing Grace O’Reilly at STUDIO71. I expect the team will be slowly growing over the next 12 months, too.
Tubefilter: What’s next for STORROR and its channel? What are you building toward?
STORROR: We’re constantly working toward inspiring people to move, so a STORROR training club has always been on the horizon. It would be amazing to have a facility not only for us to train in the wet winter months, but also to expose new generations to this incredible sport.
We have managed to build a sustainable career for ourselves doing what we love — 2019 is all about what can we do for the world! Our aim is to inspire one million people to start moving. Whether that is from our videos, learning parkour in our future training facilities, or even from our clothing. It would be a great thing if more people in this world moved!
Most importantly… 10 is our number.
Semaphore Business Solutions provides customized services for clients across the country, taking an all-encompassing approach to meet all your financial needs. Whether you’re a veteran YouTube entertainer or just starting out, managing your business correctly is crucial to avoiding major headaches down the road. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can help you put a plan into motion to grow, as well as to keep more money in your pocket, with advanced tax strategies. Semaphore Brand Solutions has established itself as a leading influencer marketing agency representing our exclusive talent relationships and services to the most recognized brands and agencies.