Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
Matty Benedetto makes things no one needs.
A keyboard that can only type your passwords? He’s got it. An alarm clock that also holds your morning O.J.? You bet. Want to measure something and still not know how long it is? The “vague ruler” has you covered. All of these and many, many more gadgets and gizmos are on offer at Benedetto’s YouTube channel Unnecessary Inventions, where, since 2019, he’s been making fauxmercials and behind-the-build videos for his most whimsical and worthless (or so he says!) ideas.
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These days, the vast majority of Benedetto’s inventions will never become full-fledged on-the-shelf products, but that wasn’t always the case. Benedetto launched his first consumer brand as a 15-year-old, turning his passion for skiing into an apparel company. He managed that brand throughout college (his perhaps unsurprising major: marketing), then launched a second company, this one a tech accessory brand that was sold in well-known retailers like Urban Outfitters, Restoration Hardware, Brookstone, and J.Crew.
Benedetto followed that company up with a line of travel products, and all three brands were still on sale when he came up with AirSticks.
Unlike Benedetto’s prior inventions, AirSticks were not intended for actual use by actual humans. They were his first unnecessary invention, made mainly because Benedetto had just bought his first 3-D printer, unlocking the potential for him to make virtually anything in his home office, just because he felt like it.
And he felt like it. AirSticks–a pair of chopsticks that delicately cradle your AirPods and let you eat sushi at the same time–was only the beginning. After posting a photo of them on Reddit and ending up on the site’s front page (meaning his post garnered a lot of attention), Benedetto began wondering: what other long-held ideas could he turn into tangible, if not strictly usable, products?
Thus, Unnecessary Inventions was born.
Benedetto started Unnecessary Inventions on Instagram, but soon realized static photos didn’t show off his creations as well as video did. Moving to YouTube let him make a wide range of content about his inventions, from behind-the-scenes looks at 3-D printing them to making fake infomercials inspired by the But wait, there’s more! gusto we remember from 90s and early 2000s products like OxiClean and ShamWow.
The same way that shift to YouTube helped grow Unnecessary Inventions (enough that Benedetto shuttered his consumer brands to focus on content full-time), the debut of its TikTok competitor YouTube Shorts provided another bump. Benedetto has been posting short-form clips throughout 2021, and it’s helped push his channel from 110,000 subscribers and a few hundred thousand views a month to 40 million views in May, 53 million in June, 73 million in July, and 55 million in both August and September. HIs subscriber count, meanwhile, has jumped to 758,000.
And, of course, we’d be remiss not to mention that Benedetto’s growing presence got him and Unnecessary Inventions nominated for a 2021 Streamy Award in science and engineering.
Check out our chat with him below.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! You’re based in Vermont, right? Is that where you grew up? What did you get up to before starting Unnecessary Inventions? Did you go to college, have a career…?
Matty Benedetto: So I grew up in the suburbs of New York City and moved to Burlington, Vermont, in 2008 to go to college for marketing. I really enjoyed living up here, so I stuck around after college and have been here ever since. One of the main things that brought me up here was skiing, so I love the winters in Vermont.
The one thing people might not know is that I’ve been designing and actually selling what I call my “necessary” products since 2005 through a number of ecommerce brands that I owned. I started manufacturing my own products overseas when I was 15 years old with a ski clothing brand I started. After college, I launched a tech accessory brand that was sold in retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Restoration Hardware, Brookestone, J.Crew, and many more. Then, in 2015, I launched a travel products brand selling luggage, travel backpacks, wallets, toiletry kits, and more.
However, right as Unnecessary Inventions started to pick up momentum, I closed the other brands I had and went 100% full-time focusing on building out my career as a content creator.
Tubefilter: How did Unnecessary Inventions become a thing? Tell us its origin story! Have you always been interested in inventing? Where did the “unnecessary” part come in?
MB: I have always been a creative person who enjoys bringing an idea in my head to life in one way or another. Over the years I’ve had ideas that would have been considered a part of the Unnecessary Inventions world–some of them just stayed in my head, and others I’d get samples produced with a manufacturer just to see how it looked. I thought they might work as an April Fools’ joke for my other ecommerce brands, but ultimately thought they were just too ridiculous to produce.
Then, in February 2019, I purchased a new 3-D printer for my office and started tinkering around with some of those ideas in my head. I made what would be the first Unnecessary Invention and posted it to my personal Instagram as well as Reddit. They were the AirSticks, chopstick extensions for your AirPods. I woke up the next morning with the post on the front page of Reddit and thought, Hmm, maybe I have something here.
The next invention idea came from the comments on the Reddit post, and a few days later I posted that piece of content, with it reaching the front page again! By the fifth or sixth invention, I thought to myself that I needed to give this whole project a name and try to build out an audience of my own to see where it could go.
Two and half years later, I’m coming up on 300 new inventions with no plan on slowing down.
Tubefilter: What made you decide to start a YouTube channel? What made YouTube seem like the “right” place to share your art?
MB: I first started Unnecessary Inventions on Instagram, as the first 50 or so inventions were strictly photo-based. As I started to create more and more inventions, my followers wanted to know more about how the inventions came to life and what my process was. So, I thought YouTube would be the perfect platform to expand to that long-form content. On YouTube, I can show the community how an idea comes to life, what tools I use to build it, and how the final product works. Similarly, I think it’s also a great way to showcase a little bit more of my personality and the inner workings of my design studio.
Tubefilter: You introduce your unnecessary inventions with a big dollop of 90s infomercial gusto. Why did you decide to go with this style?
MB: One of my favorite things is when someone is scrolling their feed and come across one of my videos, and whether they are already a subscriber or not, they stop and think, This CANNOT be a real product. So I try to frame my commercials to mimic that informercial style. I’m really trying to convince you it’s easier to use one of my inventions when in reality you know that it’s completely unnecessary.
I’m also poking fun at consumer buying habits–we all have a handful of things we bought online because the ad hooked us in, used the product once, and it’s just sitting there collecting dust.
Tubefilter: While “unnecessary,” your inventions require a massive amount of creativity to think up and hand-build–and you produce multiple inventions almost every week. What’s the creative process like on your end? How long does the average invention take to put together, from conception to workable product?
MB: My brain basically never shuts off coming up with new ideas–it can be almost anything that inspires a new invention concept. I also get invention ideas sent in by my community. Roughly 65-70% of the inventions are concepts that I’ve come up with, and the other 30-35% are fan submissions. I always try to ensure whoever sent in the idea gets credit for the original concept, too!
However, once I have an idea that I want to bring to life, I typically hop right into Fusion 360 to start 3-D modeling the first iteration of the invention. A lot of times, I can basically see the final invention in my head, and I just need to take that mental picture to recreate the 3-D model. Luckily, I have several 3-D printers, so I can start printing pieces of the invention while I continue to work on other aspects.
From there, it’s mainly just tinkering with the design until it works well enough to film one of my product commercials. If it’s a simple concept and the idea works on the first design, it can be as quick as eight hours from idea to invention. More complex inventions might take a few days, but since I’m not selling these products for the most part, it simply needs to sell the idea of product versus being a consumer-ready product. That’s where the video editing can come into play sometimes, haha!
Tubefilter: How long does the average video take you to put together, from conception to posting?
MB: It can differ depending on the invention I’m building and type of content I’m producing. If I’m making an invention for a YouTube Short, it could be as quick as 24 hours from idea to final video posted, to three or four days to get one live.
For the long-form YouTube behind the build videos, it might take a week to a week and a half to really get all the details and story in place for why I’m building this invention and the tools I want to showcase. However, in an overall sense of things, it’s rather quick turnaround time for a new invention to come to life.
Tubefilter: Do you have anyone working with you behind the scenes? A team, a manager, an editor? If yes, how has the team behind the channel grown since you started? What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome as your staff scaled?
MB: I am currently a one-man show! From the product design, running the 3-D printers, writing the scripts, filming, editing, and everything in between, it’s all been just me, myself, and I. For maybe five or six of my inventions, I have hired a freelancer to help with a skillset I might not have, such as coding a Raspberry Pi to do something or 3-D sculpting a face to look like someone specific. Other than that, everything you see is just me!
Tubefilter: Your channel recently saw a significant boost in views and subscribers. Do you know if any one specific video caught on and took off?
MB: The recent growth of my channel is directly from focusing on YouTube Shorts. So it hasn’t been one particular video over another, but just consistent weekly uploads to YouTube. I think it’s been a mix of getting on the Shorts platform early as well as having content that works well with the format. I’m able to showcase one of inventions in an engaging way in a short period of time that makes viewers want to continue watching more of them on my channel.
I’m also getting back into my long-form videos alongside my Shorts content, so I’ve seen strong growth in those videos as well with the increased subscriber count from building out the Shorts audience.
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite unnecessary invention to date?
MB: One of my favorites would have to by my Gator Grips (formerly known as the Croc Gloves). Those launched about six months into Unnecessary Inventions, when I began creating my behind-the-scenes YouTube creation videos. First, the product idea itself went viral, but then Crocs sent a cease-and-desist for the product…which went five times more viral. So, it drove a lot of eyeballs to my new YouTube channel, and I was able to create a few more videos around the topic. It was the real turning point of being a full-time creator for me.
Tubefilter: What else do you get up to outside of YouTube/making content? Walk us through the average day!
MB: To be honest, I’ve built out a dream design studio and spend a LOT of time there. An average day for me consists of hitting the gym by 6:30 a.m. and heading to my studio by 8 a.m., basically seven days a week. Unless I’m out filming a video, I’ll be at my studio till 6 p.m. or so and might drop in late-night to double-check everything is looking good on the 3-D printers. I try to get out of the studio by noon or so to enjoy Vermont, from skiing in the winters to hiking in the summers. Hopefully I’ll be able to travel a bit more as things ease up around the world as well!
Tubefilter: Has your recent engagement uptick changed anything for you professionally? Do you have any new plans or goals for your content career?
MB: As the channel has grown, I have gotten a lot of attention from brands wanting to work together. This year, I’ve been able to work with brands such as Canon, Shopify, Old Spice, Dunkin’ Donuts, General Mills, Call of Duty, DoorDash, and more creating new inventions incorporating their products. I also created a five-invention collection for Babe Wine (the official wine of the NFL) and filmed a full commercial for the launch of the 2021 NFL season, which was a lot of fun. I plan to continue to build out this aspect of the business to help brands launch their own Unnecessary Inventions across social media.
Tubefilter: What’s next in the immediate future for you and your channel? Where do you see yourself in five years?
MB: Right now, the immediate plan is to continue coming out with completely unnecessary inventions. I have some really fun branded projects in the works that should be going live soon as well.
I’m also launching my new merch brand Unnecessary today! It will be an outlet to launch some other fun projects under, from traditional merch to possibly some of my inventions and some unexpected products and collaborations.
Down the road, I’d love to bring Unnecessary Inventions IRL through a museum-type experience where you can see the inventions in person, learn how 3-D printing works, and get a look into the content creator side of things within my world. Possibly bring it city to city for a limited time–that’d be a dream!
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