Rugby native and former NDSU football player Reed Duchscher is managing the internet’s biggest stars.
Tons of successful entrepreneurs have come out of the great state of North Dakota, however, Reed Duchscher, CEO and Founder of Night stands alone as a key driving force behind some of the most influential creators today, including MrBeast.
Reed's Journey to Becoming the Internet's #1 Talent Manager
Home Sweet Home (The Beginnings)
Duchscher grew up in Rugby, ND, the geographic center of North America. It’s there that he honed his love of athletics while he dreamed of one day taking the field for the North Dakota State Bison football team.
Duchscher achieved his dream and walked on with the green and gold. #80 appeared in 4 games in 2009 and 14 games in 2010.
Reed Duchscher The Sports Agent
After his time at NDSU came to a close, Duchscher went on to graduate school and ended up getting a job as a sports agent intern. In that field, Duchscher actually ended up representing former Bison football player Ryan Smith during his contract negotiations with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League. After working with Smith, Duchscher caught on with a larger agency called Fritz Martin Management where with worked with numerous NFL Hall of Famers.
The Career Pivot
Well on his way in the world of sports representation, everything changed once he stumbled upon a YouTube group named Dude Perfect, which currently boasts 59.5 million subscribers today. Though they had less than 2 million subscribers when Duchscher came upon them, he was “blown away by their following” and saw the influencer/creator market as the next big opportunity.
Eventually, Duchscher dove headfirst into the creator space with his company, Night, which is currently the No. 1 talent management agency for digital creators.
Who is MrBeast?
MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) has the most subscribed individual YouTube channel with 168 million subscribers. He is also the second most subscribed channel overall.
He has been managed by North Dakota native Reed Duchscher since 2018 and has amassed over 44 billion combined total YouTube views across his various YouTube channels with his most viewed video, “$456,000 Squid Game In Real Life!” at 462 million views.
What is Night?
Because of the opportunity Reed saw through Dude Perfect, in 2015 he founded Night, a company that operates at the center of digital influence by managing the biggest YouTube creators and communities on the internet. Reed’s biggest client, who he started managing in 2018 when he had 1 million subscribers, is MrBeast.
As MrBeast has grown—he now has over 168 million subscribers on YouTube—so has Night, which has expanded well beyond talent representation to also include a studio and venture capital firm. Duchscher has also gone on to help creators branch out way beyond the digital space, with him and MrBeast hosting live events and starting successful businesses like MrBeast Burger and Feastables.
“My philosophy is that the world is going fully direct to consumer,” Duchscher said. “15 years from now, every business will be direct to consumer, whether you’re selling insurance or automotive or whatever that is. The creator economy has provided the ability to build your own distribution on the internet, sell your own products, and own your own business. That’s what I want to help our creators build.”
The Night Roster
- Night Capital – A $100 million growth vehicle focused on private equity and buying majority stake businesses instead of minority investments.
- Night Labs – A venture studio to help artists become entrepreneurs by partnering to build companies that leverage influence and access to consumers.
- Night Studios – A multi-platform, multi-genre independent content studio that helps digitally native artists create and package their own shows for television and streaming platforms.
Q&A with Reed Duchscher
Q: How did your time at NDSU prepare you for your career?
A: Playing football at NDSU really made me accountable as a person. I had to show up on time to work out and be accountable for practice and film. You have all of these teammates relying on you to show up and do your job. I think that’s something that I really took with me into the work I do today as a CEO. I stay very accountable and show up on time and am there when people need me.
I had the best strength and conditioning coach in the world, Jim Cramer, who is still with the Bison today. I really didn’t know what dedication was until I met Jim Cramer— his level of dedication to the program is so high. It was amazing seeing how well players responded to him and how incredibly hard they were willing to work for him in the offseason. I owe a lot my personal growth and my dedication to Night to him as well as my work ethic. I had some of those things, but he really helped me take it to the next level in my life.
Q: What does your hiring process look like?
A: Our hiring process at Night is probably a little longer than most people’s. As a talent management company, the business is really built on the people so it becomes incredibly important to find the right individuals to come in and work with our creators, and some of the different things we have going on. Our process requires people to get through a lot of different stages. You have to get through the head of recruiting manager just before you start the process. Then, you’ll meet a couple of talent managers, you’ll meet with the president, then you’ll meet with me. We really take the time to understand what type of person we’re looking for. We also have a document internally that talks about what we want in a Night creator. We also have one that talks about what we want in a Night employee and what they should embody and stand for and what type of person they are. We really follow those sheets pretty closely.
Q: How does Night sign and evaluate talent?
A: The one important aspect that I understood when I started the business was the most dangerous thing for us to be successful was word of mouth. If I could do a really good job for creators that I had represented early on, they would tell their friends who are creators, and those creators would tell their friends, and we would eventually get this flywheel of this word of mouth. And that’s exactly what ended up happening. The first 35 to 40 creators we signed we actually didn’t recruit— they came to us. And for the most part, most of the creators we work with are coming to us. We don’t do a ton of outbound recruiting. We’ve built this brand within the digital department where we think we are the number one talent management company and a lot of creators thankfully want to be represented by Night. That has been so important in our process of growing.
Some important things we look for in creators, however, are their goals and aspirations. Usually, the relationship between a client and a manager is a decade-long relationship. This is like a marriage—that’s how we approach signing talent as if it’s going to be a decade-long relationship. We need to know if we want to work with these people and if we share the same vision and if they want to grow the way we want to grow.
Q: How do you decide what businesses to start with creators?
A: We have a pretty long and strenuous process for starting new businesses or investing in businesses. If you think about it on a creator level with someone like MrBeast—we went through multiple company ideas. It really starts with, ‘Who is his audience and who are we trying to appeal to?’ And then ‘What does that audience either want or need?’ ‘What products are they consuming on an everyday basis?’ And that really helped us dictate what the first move was for the companies that we created with Jimmy Danielson (MrBeast) about 35 to 40 ideas on a board, picking our favorite five, and then doing a bunch of diligence on those ideas to figure out where there’s space in the market where someone’s not innovating— where a company, or maybe just a whole niche of products has become really stale. That’s one thing we really focus on before we even get into launching a product with a creator.
Q: What advice do you have for creators in North Dakota and the rest of the Midwest?
A: When I got into this industry in 2013, the center of entertainment was still very much Hollywood. I keep a very close eye on up-and-coming talent in North Dakota and just try to understand what YouTube channels are from the region. I’ve been able to meet Millennial Farmer, who is based out of Minnesota. I’ve also met a creator called “The Corn Star” who’s also based out of the Midwest and a lot of other creators in those areas. The beauty of the industry is that entertainment doesn’t revolve around Hollywood anymore. It doesn’t matter where you’re from—someone can become successful on the internet by making TikToks or YouTube shorts about any type of niche or content style. The beauty is that even if you’re from a small town in North Dakota or a midsize city in Minnesota, if you’re good at what you do and you’re good at creating content, you will find space and you will gain traction.
Q: What advice do you have for someone like CboysTV?
A: My advice for someone like CboysTV is going to be completely different from a new creator. My advice to them is to continue to figure out how you hire the right people. I think once you get to the level where they’re at where they’re having success on YouTube and getting around one million views per video, you need to figure out how to perfect your craft and how to go from 1 million views on a video to 5 million views on a video. Doing that really comes down to the ideas and the execution. And one of the things that becomes most critical in doing that is having really good people helping with those two things. That comes down to the editors and the producers. Most creators are talented in front of a camera, they play every single role to a certain point, but a lot of creators get to this inflection point where they need to bring on a team of people. For them, I think the success of their channel, long term, is really predicated on if they can find talented people to come in and work with them.
My advice for someone trying to get into this would be that every single platform right now is prioritizing short-form videos. It’s so easy to make a 10 to 20-second video as opposed to a 15-minute video that requires editing and a thumbnail. I just tell a lot of creators right now to find their niche and find their style through the short form. And then, once you perfect that, which usually doesn’t cost any money, you can work into long-form video, but it’s never been a better time to get into being a creator for the first time.
Q. Has the current state of creators changed business?
A: You don’t need to be in a place like New York to grow a successful global business. Feastables is based out of Greenville, South Carolina. I’ve been there 1,000 times. It is not bigger than Fargo. It is a much smaller town than Fargo and I would say is a little bit more off the beaten path than Fargo. And now, that’s where one of the biggest and fastest-growing snacks companies ever is located. Feastables went from zero to 100 million in annual sales in less than 18 months. It’s also in the middle of nowhere right now. I started in Dallas, Texas. I didn’t start this in Los Angeles—it just so happens that now a lot of the people that we employ are in LA, but this company was built outside of that system.
Q: What allows a company like Night to succeed?
A: If you just think about consumer loyalty over the last 100 years and where that loyalty was, it started with institutions and governments. Then, that loyalty switched to corporations. When I was growing up, I was loyal to Nike, McDonald’s, and Adidas—that’s what I wanted. I think the shift that’s been happening and will continue to happen over the course of the next decades is individual. There will be increasing loyalty to the individuals and the individual companies that they’re building. Kids want to order MrBeast Burger over McDonald’s. They want to have a Feastibles chocolate bar over a Hershey’s chocolate bar. That’s the general foundation we’ve built this company on.