Frederik Van Lierde

Why Startups Can't Simply Copy MrBeast's Formula for Success + What To Do Instead

Explore the unique elements of MrBeast's viral approach, why they work for him, and why they might not for others, providing alternative strategies for new creators. Why Startups Can't Simply Copy MrBeast's Formula for Success + What To Do Instead
Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, has transformed content creation with his extravagant stunts and philanthropic gestures. His channel isn't just popular; it's a phenomenon. While it's tempting for start-ups to try and replicate his success, they'll find that his formula isn't easily duplicated.

Unique Content Strategy

MrBeast is famous for his over-the-top videos that often involve large sums of money, complex logistics, and heart-warming narratives. Whether he's giving away a million dollars or opening a free car dealership, his content attracts an audience that loves to see the unexpected.

Why It Works for MrBeast?
His success hinges on his ability to consistently outdo himself and manage massive projects with apparent ease. His audience is drawn to his videos by the sheer scale and feel-good nature of his giveaways.

Why It Might Not Work for a Start-up?
Most start-ups lack the resources to fund such extravagant projects. The financial risk of investing in high-cost, high-reward content can be unsustainable without significant initial capital.

What to Do Instead?
Start-ups should focus on addressing specific audience needs with innovative content that doesn't require a large budget. Engaging storytelling and unique, relatable content can attract and retain viewers without breaking the bank.

Example: Duolingo 
Instead of spending big on flashy content, they used their green owl mascot in clever social media posts that many of us can relate to. These posts often poked fun at how we feel when we miss a language lesson. This approach didn't need a big budget - it was all about smart, funny messages and simple graphics and managed to grab people's attention and keep them interested.

Community Engagement and Brand Partnerships

Beyond his own content, MrBeast engage with his community and securing brand partnerships that offer mutual benefits. His ability to maintain viewer interest and interact with fans creates a loyal base.

Why It Works for MrBeast?
His charismatic personality and consistent interaction keep fans invested. His established viewership attracts brands looking for exposure, ensuring a steady influx of sponsorship deals.

Why It Might Not Work for a Start-up?
Start-ups generally don't have the large, engaged audience that MrBeast has, which makes securing lucrative brand deals challenging. Without a proven track record, it's harder to negotiate favourable terms.

What to Do Instead?
Focus on building a solid relationship with a smaller audience by interacting directly and frequently. Use platforms like X, or engage in affiliate marketing with smaller brands to build credibility and gradually scale up partnerships.

Example: Glossier
Instead of aiming for a vast audience right out of the gate, they focused on creating a strong bond with a smaller group of dedicated customers. They frequently interacted with their followers on social media, asking for feedback on products and creating content that felt personal and inclusive.

They also teamed up with smaller brands and influencers who shared their ethos, gradually building a larger following through genuine connections and word-of-mouth.


MrBeast understands what will go viral. His challenges, philanthropy, and the sheer scale of his videos often create a buzz that spreads across platforms.

Why It Works for MrBeast?
He implements the psychology of sharing; people love to spread content that is astonishing or heart-warming. His strategic approach to trends and internet culture maximizes his reach.

Why It Might Not Work for a Start-up?
Viral content is unpredictable, and start-ups might not have the insight or resources to experiment with content that may or may not take off.

What to Do Instead?
Instead of banking on virality, start-ups should focus on consistent quality and gradual audience building. Establishing a reliable brand that consistently delivers value can lead to sustainable growth.

Example: Basecamp 
Instead of chasing viral moments, Basecamp, the project management tool, has consistently focused on delivering a reliable, high-quality service. They've concentrated on simplifying project management and improving user experience with each update, rather than flashy marketing stunts.

Basecamp's dedication to quality has helped them build a loyal user base and grow sustainably.

Long-Term Content Investment

MrBeast's projects often require significant upfront investment, not just in terms of money but also in time and planning. His videos, like recreating an entire "Squid Game" set or building a massive custom facility for challenges, are examples of high investment with a potentially high payoff.

Why It Works for MrBeast?
He has the financial backing and the platform size to recover from any investment, thanks to his massive viewership and the ad revenue it generates. His ability to foresee a return on investment allows him to undertake projects that are both risky and expensive.

Why It Might Not Work for a Start-up?
Start-ups typically operate with limited budgets and have to be mindful of their cash flow. Investing heavily in a single project without the assurance of a return can jeopardize their financial stability.

What to Do Instead?
Start-ups should aim for smaller, incremental content projects that require minimal investment but are consistent and can steadily build an audience. This approach reduces financial risk and allows for flexibility to adjust strategies based on what works.

Example: Buffer
When starting out, Buffer focused on small, manageable updates and consistent improvements to their platform. They didn't pour money into large-scale projects.

Instead, they concentrated on refining their core features and releasing useful content that helped users understand social media marketing better.

This allowed Buffer to build trust and a loyal user base slowly. By keeping investments modest and focusing on what users really needed, Buffer was able to grow steadily and adapt their strategies based on user feedback, ensuring they always met market demands efficiently.

Scalability and Growth Management

As his stunts grow larger, MrBeast also scales his operations, managing a large team that helps him plan, execute, and edit his ambitious projects. His operational scale matches his creative ambitions.

Why It Works for MrBeast?
His well-structured team and the revenue from his growing channel allow him to scale up both his content and his infrastructure smoothly. This scalability is key to producing content that keeps pushing the envelope.

Why It Might Not Work for a Start-up?
Most start-ups struggle with scaling, especially when it comes to balancing resource allocation between content creation and business operations. Without a similar revenue stream or viewership, it's hard to justify or sustain a large operational scale.

What to Do Instead?
Start-ups should focus on building a lean operation where every member wears multiple hats. Growing the team should be proportional to the growth in revenue and audience, ensuring that scaling doesn't outpace the start-up's foundational stability. Streamlining operations and focusing on roles that add direct value can help maintain efficiency while still allowing for gradual growth.

Example: Canva
In the beginning, Canva operated with a lean team where everyone took on multiple roles, from design to customer service. This helped them stay agile and responsive to user needs without overstretching their resources.

As their user base and revenue grew, Canva carefully expanded their team, ensuring new hires were in areas that directly contributed to their core mission of simplifying design for everyone. Canva's gradual, mindful growth allowed them to scale efficiently, maintaining their innovative edge and service quality while growing into a world leader.

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Replicating MrBeast's success is no small challenge due to his unique position in the content creation landscape. Instead, start-ups should look to adapt aspects of his strategy in a way that aligns with their capabilities and growth stage. By focusing on sustainable growth, careful investment, and efficient operations, start-ups can build their own path to success in the competitive world of digital media.