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EXCLUSIVE: Josh Richards Talks About His Rise To Fame And The Secret To Blowing Up On TikTok

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EXCLUSIVE: Josh Richards Talks About His Rise To Fame And The Secret To Blowing Up On TikTok

Jason Raznick, the founder and CEO of Benzinga, recently debuted The Raz Report series, where he discusses entrepreneurship, overcoming challenges to success, as well as the financial markets.

In this week's episode, Raznick sat down with Josh Richards, a Canadian-born TikTok influencer, investor, entrepreneur and podcast star, to talk about his journey, secrets to success on social media and his vision for the future.

About Josh Richards: Richards is an 18-year-old influencer and entrepreneur that started his career on Musical.ly, prior to the company being restructured into TikTok. He currently resides in Los Angeles at the Sway House, a 7,800-square-foot mansion in Bel Air, and is the Chief Strategy Officer of social media company Triller, co-founder at Ani Energy and TalentX Entertainment.

Perhaps most notably, he recently launched BFFs, a new podcast with Barstool Sports founder, and ostensibly, the new "King of All Media" Dave Portnoy.

Introduction To Social Media, Fame: In a conversation regarding Richards’ start on social media, the influencer talked about accidentally finding the app Musical.ly through his younger sister, Olivia.

“My social media start happened when I was 14 years old,” he said. “My sister, who is a year-and-a-half younger than me, was filming on Musical.ly … and I got in it.”

The video ended up doing tremendously well and inspired Richards to create his own account.

“I made one and then I set a goal -- I had everything planned out -- like my follower growth.”

After reaching 10,000 followers by the end of the summer filming collaborations and live streams, Richards decided to continue the journey.

“It just kind of kept escalating from there," he said. "I signed with a manager maybe a year after that, and then, I started doing some brand deals.”

After rising in fame, Richards began touring the United States to meet fans. At one point he came to Los Angeles where he met Bryce Hall, another social media personality. The two kicked it off and decided to move in, with four other influencers, to the Los Angeles-based Sway House, where they worked as a team to strengthen their reach.

“L.A. definitely made a night and day difference,” he said. “I never really experienced the fame until I completely left Canada.”

With Fame Comes Backlash: Richards told Raznick that bullying almost forced him to quit before he became famous.

“When I was in the ninth grade, I was going to my high-school and that’s when I started doing social media. Probably the worst combo to be a freshman and do social media," he said.

At one point, people began verbally abusing Richards at school.

“I quit for about three months, and then my friends … said ‘Josh, it does not make sense that you’re going to give up doing this when you have such a cool opportunity.’”

Richards said that conversation changed his mindset.

“It’s really about having fun. It doesn’t matter what other people think, because if no one hates you, then you’re probably doing something wrong.”

How To Angel Invest, Make An Impact: In his pastime, Richards is a private equity investor that backs only those opportunities that align with his views and passions. In a discussion regarding his recent investments, Raznick asked about how Richards gets into touch with companies.

“It’s all relationships,” he said, regarding an investment in a dog food company he established through Triller.

“A lot of times what happens is … I make relationships with the founders of those companies. Then they have relationships with other founders, and they’ll just start bringing me into those conversations more and more.”

After making a good first impression, Richards noted that oftentimes founders will bring him onto projects. After coming on, Richards finds ways to make an impact -- either through brainstorming and asking questions, or leveraging his brand and years of experience gathering the attention of millions.

In one part of the interview, Richards talked about the out-of-the-box idea of starting a TikTok competitor after news surfaced of a potential ban on the company.

“Our first thought was to create our own version. Once we looked into doing that, we actually paired with the team over at Triller,” he said. “They listened to a lot of ideas we were giving them and they put us in positions with power so that we could actually influence what happens on the app.”

Richards eventually made a personal investment in Triller and joined the company as Chief Strategy Officer.

Cracking The TikTok Algorithm: Raznick also asked Richards about how he was able to understand and leverage the TikTok algorithm to surpass 22 million followers and 1 billion likes.

“When TikTok first came out, they established the For You page,” the influencer said. “There were two people on the app that figured it out. It was Cash Baker and it was me.”

Richards said that sharing, saving and comments were paramount in his success.

“I started creating tutorial videos and I would show people really quick -- 15 to 30 seconds -- how to do a trick on TikTok. Everyone would save them because they would want to go try them later, or they would want to know how to do what I was doing and my videos would blow up.”

Vision For The Future, Beyond TikTok: Richards told Raznick he wants to hone in on angel investing and new forms of content creation.

Recently, the influencer partnered with Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy. The two talk about everything from dominating TikTok to running companies.

“You're getting the in of two completely different worlds,” Richards said. “I’m very much in the Gen Z, social media drama, hardcore partying, not knowing what they’re doing with their money influencer area, … whereas Dave is more in the sports and college guy demographic.”

The podcast, alongside his other business ventures, is offering him diversity in income and the opportunity to pursue the passion of sharing his lifestyle with others.

“We’re just trying to motivate people,” he said.

 

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