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Eliot Robinson is a Gen-Z entrepreneur from Stockholm, Sweden who started @Dunk, a basketball Instagram account, as a passion project in high school and has since turned it into a thriving business with millions and millions of followers.
I got the opportunity to speak with this Future Shark because he is leaving normal behind.
This is a value packed interview with short truths and a lot of fundamentals.
Do not mistake brevity for impact or substance.
Sometimes the best insight is short and direct.
Here we go …
So Eliot, tell me a bit more about yourself …
Sure Rob, my story is straight forward. I’m from Sweden. I love basketball and started an Instagram account in 2013.
I grew my account and Instagram network from 0-10M total followers in 4 years.
Along the way I moved to NYC to work with Gary Vaynerchuk on social growth and strategy. I increased his numbers on social by a lot.
Next, I managed a hip-hop artist Bazanji.
I increased his numbers on social & streams on Spotify/Soundcloud a lot.
Then I stopped managing the artist to focus on working with Gary and @Dunk.
Next I stopped working for Gary to go all-in on @Dunk.
What are some of your hobbies:
Basketball, Meditation, and Fortnite … (sometimes).
What is your favorite quote?
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”
I apologize for the cheese but it’s true.
What are you working on?
Dunk is a sports media company building and trading attention on social media. We’ve built up a community of over 10M from scratch, and that network consists of mainly basketball pages like @Curry and @TheHoopFilms (however we do have our foot in other industries).
We’re building a social first, younger demo first, brand. The way we do it is by having a pulse on what younger culture wants, we know what they want because we spend 10 hours a day on the platform, interacting with them and consuming their content.
Essentially, ESPN but cool. Sorry ESPN.
How did you come up with this idea?
By accident. Then it kind of developed as it went along.
How is your company different?
How we separate ourselves? Well, it depends from who. We actually interact and care about our fans, interacting with hundreds (if not thousands) per day, building a stronger relationship to them. Brands think they’re hot shit and don’t interact with fans. They take them for granted, we don’t.
Also, people running our social accounts spends hours on social, they know what people actually want to see and speak their language.
They understand what fans, followers, and customers relate too. Our fans make us what we are and they are the backbone to all that we do.
We are excited to scale and grow our social accounts, website, and email list while maintaining the personal connections with the fans.
This is important because we are building a sports brand that speaks to the younger demo. Connecting with them personally is important. No one is doing it. The closest one I’d say is @HouseOfHighlights, and I have the utmost respect for Omar, the owner of @HouseOfHighlights.
I think Dunk is onto something similar, but different. More culture oriented. More personal fan connection oriented.
Maybe not as big, but different.
What’s your dream with your company?
My dream is a legitimate sports brand that people can actually relate to.
Even more then they can right now.
A company with infrastructure that allows and puts the company in a way to win. Winning meaning: healthy and steady growth – revenue wise and audience wise.
And I’m going to repeat it. To be one of the FEW brands that people can actually relate to, and want to show their friends.
Having merchandise that people crave and eagerly await to purchase. (other word?).
To have the fans tell their friends that @Dunk actually interacted with them.
All that good stuff.
Listen I’m not discrediting any of the companies I’m naming either, I have major respect for what they’ve built and the way they’ve structured everything, etc etc.
But how many 15 year olds are going to want to rock a CBS Sports hoodie?
What makes you special?
I’m positive. I want the best for people. I recognize my faults.
How do you creatively advertise?
Create an “ad” that’s not actually an ad but something that people would want to interact with.
Evoke emotion in whoever watches it.
What’s the biggest mistake people do on social?
They’re content sucks and they think people are going to follow them. They don’t think about ways to creatively distribute their content.
hey afraid to try and get caught up in subjective calls. They don’t interact with their community.
What were your biggest failure and biggest success? What did you learn from them?
Don’t hire until you’re ready — getting people on board isn’t hard, it’s retaining them that is.
Don’t overvalue your service, you can always start off small and then ramp up.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have …
Stick to what you’re good at and also don’t talk about shit you don’t know.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs looking to raise capital for their company?
Don’t raise on potential. Raise on what you have.
Start small. Get going.
Moving forward is a lot more important than hitting the imaginary number you have set out for yourself.
Obviously don’t dilute your company too quickly, but momentum is super important and getting stuck up in raising money, just to raise money, can hinder momentum a lot.
What’s something new you’ve learned in the past month?
How you sell is sometimes more important than what you sell.
Make people understand exactly what they’re getting and why they need it.
What is a hack that we might not know, and we should…
I mean, you might know this, but email headlines are super interesting and important.
\The way you phrase them and make them look aesthetically pleasing.
Obviously don’t overthink, but in my opinion something about the following ones just make the email more clickable: “Future Sharks x Dunk” or “Dunk Interview @ Future Sharks”.
What do you think you do better than most people?
Try to understand why people act/interact the way people do on social.
Analyze not only post but “mass behavior”.
Super subjective, and big data might have me beat, but there are a lot of things that I just intuitively know are going to work vs not from years of trying to understand social. Have high energy.
What is the most practical and actionable framework you can share for other Future Sharks to use in their daily life?
Drink more water. Meditate. Be more present.
Pretend that you are your customer, makes it easier to figure out what they’d want in a product.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Finding good people to help them achieve their goals, and making sure they understand what the reasoning behind their goals are.
What holds most entrepreneurs back and how can they get through it?
I can’t speak for others, but the biggest hurdles would be self–doubt and that stems from not focusing on what you’re best at and trying to be someone you’re not. Cliché’s are a cliché for a reason.
What is the best book you’ve ever read?
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Which social accounts should we follow to stay connected?
(hyperlinked, example: Facebook):
Eliot Robinson gave incredibly useful and practical insight in this Future Sharks interview.\
Connecting and engaging with your audience is super important.
This tedious task can really separate you from your competition. It is not the easiest thing to do, yet if you make the effort and do it correctly you will build a community that loves your content and consistently engages.
They will be your super fans and spread your brand for you to their friends. Invest into relationship building with your audience.
This is a key principle in how we have been building Leave Normal Behind – a content, community, and events hub for purpose driven people. The mission of LNB is to inspire others to become the best version of themselves and create things that matter.
Interacting with these game changers on a personal level is essential to the growth of our community.
If you or anyone you know is a Future Shark who is leaving normal behind then send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate a conversation between us.