In this episode, Adam and Carlton are joined by Jake Corley, co-founder and Chief Community Officer of Digital Wildcatters, the social network for the next generation of energy professionals. Jake talks about the importance of authenticity, the best way to generate podcast revenue, and how it all comes down to community.
Highlights from the conversation:
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Transcription generated by Otter.ai
Adam Vazquez 0:06
All right. All right. All right. We are back, and in true Matthew McConaughey style, we’re swinging down to Texas for this week’s episode. We’ve got Jake Corley from Digital Wildcatters here on the show. Wildcatters, I believe, is what it is actually. Carlton, we’re rolling with scripted intros these days. Based on what you heard, how would you describe Jake? Remember, his entire career depends on how you describe Jake.
Carlton Riffel 0:30
Man, I tell you what, if there’s one episode that you should never skip, it’s this one because—wow—Jake does a phenomenal job at a phenomenal pace. He’s just clipping along. super interesting. His background, he’s an ex-Marine. So the guy, I’m sure, is just tough as I’ll get out. He’s in the oil and gas industry. And they built a media company in this niche where, essentially, there’s not a ton of other competition. But they’ve done it in such a way where they have been able to not only have an awesome podcast, but they’ve gone beyond advertising, they’re now killing it with live events, or they’re doing some really interesting thing in the software space. So if there’s an episode you need to hear, don’t tune out for this one.
Adam Vazquez 1:16
Yeah, not a lot of competition, the industry that they’re working in, as you mentioned, but a ton of money, which is a great combo, a great mixture. Yeah. And, and we get into it with Jake, but what he saw as an industry veteran, and the pain that he felt of trying to understand what was going on in the industry trying to understand the positives, they’re in a very, everyone knows we’re in an energy crisis, everyone knows there has to be change that happens across the board, in terms of making energy more accessible. And there are not many people from the industry itself discussing what they think needs to be done, or how they’re viewing the marketplace, or et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And so what Jake and his team have done is built this media company, it started with a podcast, as you said, but I’ve built an entire media company at this point, to tell those stories and to tell them from the perspective of the industry, which is so important, when everyone else, there are voices all around— it’s like in sports these days. I don’t know if, Carlton, let me know you’re not a huge NBA guy. But there’s a huge controversy going on right now. Because all of these NBA players are starting podcasts and are basically going direct to their fans into their audiences with what they want to say, as opposed to going through like ESPN. And so ESPN is freaking out. All of their analysts are just trying to kind of bait these athletes and get into arguments with them. And the athletes don’t care if they keep using the term New Media about Draymond Green specifically is at the center of it because they don’t need whoever Steven Naismith, Skip Bayless, etc, talking head filtering what they want to say and putting their spin on it, and kind of letting things get lost in translation, they can speak directly to their fans. And that’s exactly what Jake is doing. For the energy industry. He is there’s so much noise. There are so many talking heads, there are so many people with different opinions who are pumping their own bags in one way or another. And Jake is saying, and his company and his team are saying here is what we as people who are in the industry have to say about any given issue. So super, super exciting. And like you said, a very successful company. Does any anything else stand out to you from the conversation?
Carlton Riffel 3:31
Well, one thing I’ll add to that is that a lot of that centers around authenticity. And you can tell that Jake authentically knows his wheelhouse, and his industry is extremely deep. And he not only talks about why they’ve been successful but how they can grow it and some of the opportunities that are still there.
Adam Vazquez 3:49
Yeah. All right. Well, without further ado, let’s dive in with Jake Corley of Digital Wildcatters.
Put that content down. Content. The close is over. What’s your name? Content. That’s my name. You know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight. I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name. Content Is for Closers.
Adam Vazquez 4:20
All right, we got another episode here of Content Is for Closers. In this episode, we’re talking to Jake Corley from Digital Wildcatters, aka the one-hit wonder. Jake, welcome to the show.
Jake Corley 4:29
Thanks for having me, Adam.
Adam Vazquez 4:31
You specifically asked for no preparation, which I respect. That’s how I do it as well. Most people request the opposite. So I have to hear, just off the jump, what’s your philosophy on being off-the-cuff on shows?
Jake Corley 4:45
I think it’s raw. I think it’s real. I think it’s authentic. And I think that that’s the kind of content that people demand these days. And I think that if you want to penetrate the hearts and the minds and get into the souls of people, especially in this day and age people are so scatterbrained. We’re constantly fighting for attention. And I think that if you really want people to care about what you’re producing, I think you need to be as real as possible. That’s not to say that there’s not a place for preparation, as we were kind of talking right now, prior to us hopping on here. We’re doing this streaming conference. So a lot of like pre-production actually goes into thinking through how we produce some of these things. But I think for podcasting, I think that that medium, I think it’s better served, if you’re just off-the-cuff and you come in, you’re just as real as possible because people just want to be a fly on the wall. They want to kind of be voyeuristic into the kind of conversations that people have. That’s my philosophy.
Adam Vazquez 5:39
I totally agree. I think there’s this bifurcation between you can do all the prep work and for what we’re talking about the prep work is your career. There’s tons of background there. But if you are preparing specifically for the execution you’re about to do, it comes off as rote and rehearsed. And all those things were just a conversation right, but then people actually want to hear.
So we’re having you on because of what you’re doing with Digital Wildcatters. You’re all over the world. We tried to do this last week. You were in remote Costa Rica. Now I’m seeing tweets about Mexican beer. What’s going on? What is Digital Wildcatters? What are you guys doing? And how did this all come together?
Jake Corley 6:17
Man, where does this even begin? I think that they start with kind of like the elevator pitch. Digital Wildcatters is the social network for the next generation of energy professionals. That is where we are today. And that’s where we’re heading. And that’s kind of the trajectory of the company is being more of a content platform for the industry. And then we produce a significant amount of that content. But it’s also we empower the communities to create a lot of content, and then we help distribute that really as more of as a platform, right. But we started off as two guys in a closet, literally a storage closet at a co-working space, because they had no more space left. And they said, We’ll give you the storage closet, we’ll clean it out. We’ll give it to like 60 euros a month. Really? Sure, we’ll take it. And just started podcasting. I had been in oil and gas at that point. In my career, probably five years, I think I came into the industry building tech companies for oil and gas. And then it’s my partner kind of came from the field. He started rough necking. He lived in Midland, Texas, which is the largest oil basin in the United States. And so he was reflecting on oil rigs and then kind of did some other stuff in the oil field services space. Yeah. So we started this podcast. We had a lot of friends who are founders in this space. And I don’t have been podcasting kind of doing more of a new show in oil and gas, which was like the first one since 2016. We started Willie gas started this podcast before it was even Digital Wildcatters was even a thing in 2018. We literally just picked up the mics, we said, hey, let’s have these conversations with people. Let’s talk about from more like the entrepreneur perspective, like, what are you building? Why are you building what you’re building? What is your journey? What is your story? And then where are you guys going? And I think that, in the beginning, a lot of people said that was career suicide for us, because of the way that we had built our brand. We weren’t in suits and ties, we weren’t like super buttoned up, we’re dropping headphones left and right. And it was just us being us. Like I came from the Marine Corps. So like, I’m just, I’m just me. And then Colin came from being on the rig. He’s got a knife on him as well. But I think that one of the things you had to commit to early on was that if we were going to, and we’ve committed to putting out at least an episode a week for a year, let’s try it right. But if you’re going to be on video, or audio, or whatever it may be for that amount of time, if you’re trying to keep up some sort of like persona that is not real and authentic, then people are going to see through that. And so we rolled the dice, and we said, “Hey, let’s just be honest and see where this goes.” And it resonated. And I don’t really think we realized in the beginning how much it resonated or how much impact it was having. And I think one thing that’s really unique to us is that we’ve built really our community, almost predominantly through LinkedIn. And I’d say probably maybe the last couple of years, we’ve kind of built up a nice little audience through Twitter, but it’s predominantly this professionals crowd. And oil and gas apparently was just needing and wanting exactly what we were putting out there. And so literally everything that we’ve built since then, has literally been off the back of this one podcast, two guys in a closet, talking with their friends. As always, it’s been an absolutely wild ride since.
Adam Vazquez 9:30
So take us back because you had worked in technology, you’d worked around the industry, but this is a pretty different jump what you’re doing now and specifically because it hadn’t been done before that I know of in this industry. So and even taking a step further. We’ve had a couple other creators who are focusing on a blue-collar industry. For instance, Freightwaves—Greg Fuller, Sonali, Timothy Doing, all of them—are doing a similar thing in the supply chain and trucking industry. But there have been people who have kind of created in that industry not taking anything away from them. So where did this come from? The idea that like, yeah, we’re gonna do a podcast for oil and gas when that just really wasn’t a thing at the time.
Jake Corley 10:20
I think that Collin and I— One of the attributes that we have that I think is led to our success is I would see as kind of like super networkers, we’re constantly going out there. My days are constantly stacked full of meeting people and honest with him. And that’s how it’s been Flink for, like 10 years. And so we were naturally just trying to kind of build up our personal Rolodex, because we didn’t know, this was never intended to be a business. This was okay, this was a side project. And we went into it with kind of that philosophy. And we said, the worst case scenario is, we walk away with some really good experiences some really good connections, it’s not going to hurt to kind of know more people in oil and gas, because at the time we were, we were building tech for when the gas companies and so he would make it really, really easy to be able to either sell into them or help them integrate in some new technologies. We also had ambitions of starting an oil and gas company, which we ended up doing. And none of not being as grand as we kind of had anticipated. But at least we did it. So we looked at it as a worst-case scenario, we walk away with something about better network, right. And so from that perspective, I don’t know everything else was just upside. We were able to go through and just meet some really, really good people. And then going back to the genesis of like the thesis of the show, we had a lot of friends where we were meeting a lot of people in Silicon Valley, and in New York, particularly venture capitalists. It never hurts to have VC firms, particularly in the tech business, right? I was, I was raising more money, right? Never hurts to have those guys. And so we would tell you about all the things that were happening, kind of in energy tech, and when gas tech, and they said Great work, we gotta learn about it. And we said, there’s no really place to send you there’s like nothing. You can Google these companies, and you probably won’t even find them. So we said, okay, sort of podcasts. And so we picked out our first five guests, we made kind of a, a wish list of people that we’d love to have on the podcast, one of those being John Arnold, one of the richest and most successful guys in Houston. That was one of millionaire and five. Now, one of the first five, we actually got him within we got him last year, okay, but it took us four years of just networking and putting out content. And then all it took was one tweet me tweeted at John, who said, we’d love to love to be on the show, we’d love to. He doesn’t do podcasts, he doesn’t do interviews. Three days later, he’s in our office recording a podcast with us. So it’s been absolutely surreal. I think that not only the business that we’ve been able to build off the back of just a podcast, which our business looks a lot like, like Freightwaves. We know Craig, we know those guys who actually did a joint venture event together in the past. And so I think the only difference between us and them would be they have an actual data product, right. And we don’t currently have a data product, we are more so positioning ourselves to be more of a social network for the next generation of energy professionals. So that’s the biggest difference, but love those guys, and we will the work that they’re doing as well.
Adam Vazquez 13:08
Yeah, yeah, they’re great. I want to get more into the business side of things and the platform you’re talking about, but I have a couple of questions there on the story in the build-up. I just had an argument on Twitter or LinkedIn somewhere with someone who took issue with the fact that I said that advertising is one of the lazier ways to generate revenue via podcast because you’re overlooking— It’s great. It can be part of the mix, but you’re overlooking so many bigger picture things like what you all have done, like building this network up all those sorts of things was that— I guess let me put it this way. Do you think that you would have the social network without having the podcast initially?
Jake Corley 13:49
No. You have to have the community. I think community is the greatest mode. There is a difference between having an audience and having a community. I think that the difference is, we’re making those in real-life connections. I personally know. And Colin personally knows and our team personally knows. So we can win these communities because at the same time, around the same time, we launched the podcast, actually, before we launched the podcast, we were doing these kinds of oil and gas, happy hours at our office, we were one of the first people to get an office that the we work with when the first location opened in Houston. And so we had access to the common areas. There was nobody else there, which was wonderful. So the very first one we ever did, we said hey, we’re doing I’m gonna just to kind of casual get together. We don’t even putting out content on LinkedIn, just kind of like posting and kind of getting some notoriety. And the first one we had, like, 300 people show up. We were like, Oh, this is cool. We had like just kegs of beer. Like literally just kegs of beer in trash cans. We had pieces that Colin and I both picked up ourselves. We forgot to get plates and it was like cool. Like let’s just see where this goes. And so by that it was literally like community is not something you can buy. You have to literally build it brick by brick. And it’s been five years of us building this. And many of those years, we never had a single ask. We’ve always tried to deliver disproportionately more value to the community than we extract. And I think that is one of the biggest keys. And so it’s constantly helping people find jobs, it’s constantly introducing them to capital providers, it’s making all sorts of connections. When somebody gets laid off, hearing them come to you and “how can we help?” And just constantly trying to be a resource and doing that day in and day out for years, even when you’re making absolutely no money and just doing it, because it’s the right thing to do. That’s how you build up a really, really good community. And so as a result, once you have that community, there are a lot of really amazing things that you can do, that you can build on the back of that community. And one of the most common things that you see is people build up an audience on Twitter, particularly around tech or VC stuff. And then there’s like a rolling fund, right, and they just want to make themselves now a VC and I’m constantly just taking in more money, and I’m just gonna make him placements. And you see that we’re like, Oh, snap Perry Stebbings, 20 million VC, you see the future for other people. But there are so many things that you can just focus on and love to go happy to go into all the different ways that we’ve done it advertising was the first and obvious thing that we went to, it was one of those things we were like, Okay, once we actually sold 2020, we left everything else that we were doing, we either sold it or just left it or just killed it off, whatever it was, we said, we’re gonna go all in. And we had enough seed capital from that, to get us through 2020. Thankfully, because we made this decision right before COVID ed right before world prices went negative. And we had to figure this out. We didn’t know media, we were just guys, we were like putting out content. But we really had this conviction that there was something here. And so yeah, it was just like podcasts advertising. But that time, we’d already been doing a podcast for two years with no advertising, no, nothing. We had never monetized anything. And so whenever I talk to creators today, and they’re talking about launching a podcast, and they’re automatically bringing up monetizing, I said, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Go out there, earn it, see if you even get market fit. First, do this for two years, and then kind of think about monetizing something, you have to earn that. So and since then it’s evolved, advertising is still a huge part of our business. It’s not the biggest part of there are a lot of other parts that are actually a much larger part of the business. I think with us positioning ourselves as more of a platform and especially the new platform that we are building. I think the self-serve ads platform very similar to what we’ve seen Facebook, Google sharing, 10, things like that. But more geared to this industry, I think is going to be a huge moneymaker.
Adam Vazquez 17:37
So let’s talk about that for a second. So you said that you’re still continuing to create content yourselves, obviously, that’ll probably always be an engine that you empower. But you’re empowering other folks in the industry to create content as well. What does that mean? How are you doing that practically?
Jake Corley 17:52
So we started off as a starting what we call Wildcatter Studios. And so very similar to industry dive has their thing as creator ID. And they do stuff with like white papers and things like that, we take a little bit of a different approach, we had someone who will reach out saying, hey, we would love to, we don’t know what we don’t want to do. Like nobody in this industry. Like we’re literally the only ones doing it, we have no competition in this space whatsoever. And so people come to us, and they’re like, Yeah, we would love to create content, we just don’t even know where to begin. And so we see, well, cater Studios is content as a service. But we do it in a way where it integrates with our brand. It’s not like us, like completely selling our soul to do something. At the end of the day, if they had no agreement with us, I have kind of more called editorial control to say whether this is good content or not. And if it’s not good content, and I don’t think it’s good content, and we won’t release it, regardless of how much money that can be paying us. Doesn’t matter.
Adam Vazquez 18:44
Oh, so you’re actually producing the content on behalf of company X.
Jake Corley 18:48
Yeah, so that could be anything along the lines of what I would consider being more like a YouTube video essay, could be something as we’ve done it, we did a deal with the investment bank. And so that investment bank has an entire research arm and a huge research team. And so they were able to give us a ton of research they wanted to be. So they came to us and said we want to be cooled. And we also want to be kind of the leaders in this energy tech space. And we said you guys are cool. And you have the audience and you have the distribution. How do we align with your audience? And we said, okay, so they gave us I think we did five videos at first. And we picked five different topics. And the research team went out and did all the research for us. So we didn’t have to go through we don’t do any of the fact-checking or that kind of stuff. These guys are like the best at what they do. And so we took that. And then I took it and we made a script. And then we storyboarded it up and our editor was able to put it together into something that was amazing. And so that was like how oil and gas is fighting climate change. And so it was a ton of things in there. He was talking about geothermal technology, which is still new, but it has a lot of potential, and then went through like EVs and batteries and like where you get the raw materials at implications of most of that come from China, and things like that. That’s one engagement.
Adam Vazquez 19:57
First of all, what a brief. What a brief like. “Make us cool.” I love that. We need more people doing that. So then when that happens, you create this piece of editorial. Are you then publishing it to your audience? Or are you built? Okay, so it’s going on your network, and then I assume they can also publish it to their channels or whatever.
Jake Corley 20:18
Yeah. Half of the benefit is that we have built-in distribution because a lot of these companies will go out and hire a video production firm, or whoever it may be a PR firm, and they’re paying a ridiculous amount of money. And then they drop it on their YouTube. And the problem is that they haven’t spent any amount of time growing that YouTube and so it gets no reach. You get like 100 views we did with the largest natural gas producer in the United States EQ T Corporation. We actually did a documentary short documentary, 15 minutes, but it kind of came about very serendipitously, we’re friends with the CEO. I was riding in his truck in Pennsylvania, he weren’t introduced me to this farmer who had roboticized, his entire farm and the way that he was able to do that was taking royalties from their deal. So the Williams came company came in, leased the land to be able to drill wheeling gas wells, right. When they did that they wrote to her and $40 million worth of checks to 850 landowners, and then there was ongoing royalties from the production of oil, gas, predominantly gas. So we did a documentary about that. And so it wasn’t about EQ tea, it wasn’t about raw, these guys already the biggest, nobody cares, it was about natural grass, and telling that story. And so since we’ve done that, that was the most highest quality piece of content we’ve ever done. Now we have a couple different more documentaries that we’re doing across the industry and across the world, really, we’re going to Asia or we’re going to Africa, we’re going to document kind of this energy transition from like wooden done to cold coal to natural gas from natural gas to whatever’s next, right, yeah. So there are a million different things that kind of fall into this wildcatter studios kind of bucket but it’s my litmus test is as long as it’s good content. As long as we doesn’t seem like we’re selling our soul, then it’s something that’s, that’s interesting for us, we have a show that we’re doing actually a cover first, like TV show site going on TV, it’s going on YouTube, but it’s the first time that anybody’s really documented, like the behind the scenes of like a billion dollar oil and gas company. And so they gave us unparalleled access. And the coolest thing about all this was the CEO came to us and said I want to do this. That was the coolest thing. It wasn’t me pitching him on there. He said, Hey, he actually went to Gary V’s— What was it? Like Vayner Con or V Con, whatever it was. And was super stoked. And NFT’s and the metaverse and all this kind of stuff. And he wants to position his company as more of like this, I hate for lack of a better term a more like a meme style, kind of like Tesla, right? Because we’ve seen this transition from moving from like value investing to like emotional investing. And if you’re able to create this content and build this relationship, essentially, with this audience with this community, hopefully you’ll trade it at a better multiple, right? So it’s just crazy. But true. It’s interesting. I call it the de-commoditization of the commodities because I feel like so many companies are doing the same things. And the only way that you can really differentiate yourself is through putting out this concept and that’s something that I continuously preach. And everybody thinks that Why are you guys wanting more people to create content in this space? Wouldn’t it just compete with you? And I said, we welcome it. We need it as an industry, we need it because the industry that powers the entire world that is the single biggest factor, differentiating between a first world country and a third world country is being demonized for all the wonderful things that we do for the world. And the reason is because it’s not my generation, necessarily. But it’s people who came before us who just were silent. They didn’t say anything. And everybody was like, well, it’s not my responsibility. So we look to the shells and the Chevron’s, and the Exxon Mobil’s and the American Petroleum Institute and said you guys create some content and the content they created was propaganda. And it was very disingenuous, there was already a lot of trust issues within the industry. And so our approach we’re hoping to combat all of that and now with social media, you’ve democratize and decentralize the content creation so everybody needs to be putting out content about just documenting what you’re doing like your day to day like the willingness industry is amazing because the longer you’re in it, the more you realize you don’t know anything and so it’s one of those things where you can constantly learn more and more and more oil gas itself is split up into upstream midstream and downstream which is three entirely different industries then you have the entire services sector that services each one of those is so complicated really drilling miles into the earth to pull out resources that none of us can see.
Adam Vazquez 22:34
And it is so historically silent. Last year, for some reason, I read John D Rockefeller’s biography, whatever that’s called. Titan. And then the Koch brothers’ Sons of Wichita, which were both like, I think they’re somehow tangentially related to the oil and gas industry. And it was crazy to me that these are like both historic families that have done so much and And like you said they are the industry is demonized, and no one says anything. It’s pretty crazy. So you all have come in as this voice for the industry, but also to the industry. And so I’d be curious, like, especially starting out, what did you find promotion wise, that helps you get some inertia helped you get some quick wins. You don’t just build an audience that you can activate and have I know, you kind of said it off the cuff. But even having 300 People come to a pizza, social or whatever, it’s like a ton of people for starting off. So what did you find that you were doing—even if it was unscalable initially and now you don’t do it anymore—that helped you get that momentum?
Jake Corley 25:44
Constantly putting out content, day in and day out, and just making posts and speaking our truth. I think we’ve been doing a lot more what I would consider to call preaching lately. And I think that’s just because just the face of the business that we’re in, and the challenge that the industry is currently facing, particularly with Russia and a lot of the other like geopolitical stuff. And so I feel like, I’ve been doing a lot more speaking at different conferences, and we’ve just kind of been preaching. But if I’m going back to the early days, that’s a lot of what we were doing. It was constantly us putting our opinion out there of like all the things that we hated about the industry, and all the things that could be better. And the single I guess, kind of thread for us. And even as we continue to grow and expand into broader energy and expand beyond oil and gas. Our mantra is evolve or die. And I think that what we’ve been so combative against is this mindset that things are broke. So why fix me. But the problem is that there have been so many things that have been broken oil and gas for so long, that Let’s break the entire thing and rebuild it from the ground up. And through that, and through this whole evolve or die mantra, we created this tribe card, this tribe of people who wanted to challenge the status quo, who wanted more from the industry wanted more from themselves, and just didn’t feel like the industry was living up to its potential. And so I think that that kind of attitude, I think, is really what, in the early days, I think drew people to our post on LinkedIn and really caused a lot of this engagement. And so then whenever we did do these, these events, and when we did launch the podcast, I think it was just more gasoline on the fire.
Adam Vazquez 27:23
So you talked about evolution there. Now you’re evolving even past that you’re doing live events, you’re doing streaming events, and you were telling me off air about how you’re creating and producing these very high-end streaming events. What are those about? How are you doing those? How are you getting people to attend those give us a little bit of the behind-the-curtain on that?
Jake Corley 27:45
Yeah, so we actually did our first one in conjunction with Freightwaves. In early 2021. He was right smack dab in the middle of COVID. We knew live events were a big part of our business. We’ve been doing our series that we call energy Tech Night. And so we have companies come out, we do it as an old 100-year-old movie theater. So there’s just a single movie theater. It’s got a huge screen, it’s got a balcony, actually, like churches have services and stuff there too. And so companies come and they present their technology, they pull up like a demo of their software, we usually have somewhere between 300 to 500 people that show up, we like food and drinks and stuff. And so we couldn’t do that anymore. And it was like, Well, how do we continue to build this community brick by brick, and we had met Craig, and then the team of freight waves, and they were like, Hey, let’s do the Julie’s streaming events with us. And so we did that. And early on, I was kind of like, I was like, Well, this is interesting. I just didn’t want to do a zoom call. And we said, if we’re gonna do this, I want to do something that nobody’s ever done before. And I’m kind of demanding more out of myself. And so we pre-recorded all of that content. And then we emceed it live like it was Tony, it’s very similar to the Chappelle Show. Mine is a little live audience. You come out, you give your monologue, you talk he gives him give some commentary, whatever it may be. And then the production guy presses play, and you move into something, and at the same time, you’ve got to chat that’s going on, so people can continue to chat throughout, oh, this is amazing. Oh, I hate this, whatever, maybe. So we had like, 1200 people on that. And I was like, Well, this is interesting. We didn’t charge anything for admission. I don’t think you should for any of the streaming events, we made all our money on sponsorship, it’s kind of more of like a pay-to-play thing. Sure. But like I was telling you the reason we’re able to kind of command I guess the sponsorship tiers that we are was because now the companies are able to walk away with an asset, so it’s not just hey, you have the impact of this event, but this can continue to live on our website and our YouTube and you guys can take it and build marketing campaigns around it’s where this is the gift that keeps on giving. You’ll have people reaching out to you for one to three years from now. And so we’re the one that we’re doing now it was I was having lots of conversations with different founders in the space and the seem to be a lot of hype in the emissions technology space but then when the gas and so we created this zero calm Brian’s not net 00 to talk about what the industry has been doing is doing in will be doing to lower our missions to zero, right. And so there’s been a ton of money that’s been invested in the space, there’s a lot of different technology companies, there hasn’t been a single kind of conference focused on that. And so me putting on kind of my operator hat thinking like they do, I said, if I was trying to build like an emissions program, as an oil and gas operator, I wouldn’t know where to start. And so there are so many different things that we have to kind of go through. So we’re giving a primer of kind of the industry, giving a primer of all the different kind of technologies. A lot of companies that are gonna come present, and just very similar to how we do it, interview Tech Night, it’s just gonna be on video. And then we also have people that are going to come and just come do some interviews. And then we have a significant amount of panels talking through a lot of the hot topics in this space. And so it’s, it’s a fun way, especially like, obviously, we’re out of COVID. Now we can do live events, we actually just did one on one a half ago. We had 1200 People at the Eighth Wonder brewery here in Houston, at the intersection of energy and Bitcoin mining. So it’s huge. It was great. So why don’t we do zero streaming. And I think those for two reasons, for one allows us to be able to test the thesis of an event without going and spending half a million dollars on the venue, right? And so I can test this year one, and then year two, I can go out and say, Hey, we had a really good response. Now I can justify us being able to pony up cash, to be able to do something in person. So I think that that’s likely to happen next year, too. It goes back to the industry, not being able to big industry does not talk about all the good things that we do. And so I wanted to create just a ton of content all at once so that we can put this out there for the industry and for the world. Yeah. And so it’s still even challenging. There’s a lot of conversation, a lot of companies that wanted to participate that still don’t have a cohesive strategy, or maybe an alignment within the C suite of like, Hey, we’re investing a lot of money into this, but we really don’t know what to say, publicly. We don’t know what that strategy should be, which I think is part of the problem. So it’s partially like internal activism. It’s partially like external activism. But at the same time, it’s just being a little bit financially responsible. Just to test the thesis. If something Yeah, if you need to test it, why will we move on like, and there’s no, there’s outside of our internal production costs, which already sunk costs for us because they’re all full time. It’s all upside, so why not?
Adam Vazquez 32:19
I love it. I love it. I love everything you guys are doing. I love how you’re focusing on the niche of oil and gas, which is obviously where you come from. But just another overlooked industry that has so much potential. We talk a lot about we always use the landscaping example on the show. But for those of you who are listening who are in landscaping, who are in HVAC, who are in just literally anything but tech, VC, and content (which is what most people think towards), this is yet another example of what the upside could be for you as you’re creating in your niche.
Jake, I really appreciate you coming on, explaining your story, explaining how you all work. Before we let you go, two questions. The first is just, if you had to say one single thing that’s on the horizon—could be trend-wise, content-wise, could be the live event, whatever—that is just has you excited, what is it? And then let us know where people can follow along as well.
Jake Corley 33:10
For us or just macro content?
Adam Vazquez 33:12
Yeah, I think just something that you have your eye on in terms of the way content is heading and like something that you might be able to take advantage of.
Jake Corley 33:20
Oo! I think for us, I’ll just kind of speak to what’s kind of top of mind. With us launching our Collide platform— which will be like the social network. We’re not going to call it Digital Wildcatters because we want to keep that top of funnel, media, all that kind of stuff. It’s super interesting for us, especially since we’re going to launch that in the next month. We actually white-labeled once again. We got quotes to build an app from scratch that were like 2 million up front, a quarter million a month to maintain it, and so we white labeled something that was already out there. It got us like 60% of the way there. We never talked about it. We put it on our website, if you want to just explore. So we had 1,000 beta users for a year. And we were able to get feedback on that—what they liked, what they didn’t like—and we just never promoted it. Never once. Through that we hired ourselves a product manager. And then we built it completely from scratch. But using low code, no code through Bubble. And then we hired the top Bubble consultants. This whole app all in cost us less than $30,000. It’s absolutely wild. So I was excited about that because it really helps us get escape velocity on creating products in the same way that Freightwaves does with their sonar product. They are able to now create a lot of content, and not all that content necessarily needs to be monetized. But they’re able to get a negative customer acquisition cost through the content as people are converting to using which is absolutely brilliant. And so for us being able to grow Collide and actually be proud of something and launch that and then build in like a self serve advertising platform and building. Like one of the biggest problems in this industry right now is that nobody can find qualified talent. Lots of people will apply to LinkedIn postings unless you will apply to LinkedIn deep postings, but they’re not qualified for the jobs. And that’s because there’s never really been like the centralized hub and so Collide for us will literally be like the front page, the homepage, the centralized hub for the entire energy industry. So when you land there, you can search people, you can search jobs, post jobs, you can find all the events, not just our events, find all of the content there and everything will just be indexed in one wonderful place where you can go explore. And it’s a seven-figure business. That’s the idea. There are a lot of comps, there have been people who’ve come into the space and attempted it a decade ago, and they were too early and ended up fizzling out. Plus, there were some like some FBI investigation, some fraud stuff, so that so whatever. But yeah, it’s like I said, it got us back to community, and it comes back to there are just so many things that we can continue to build off the back of that masterclasses. So we have access to the best and the brightest people in the industry, were the guys that works with us in red, one of the private equity shops in the space. And he’s absolutely brilliant. But if you wanted like him to teach energy, private equity, we could do a masterclass for that. Nobody else would get access to that he can’t learn that in school. And we can do that and replicate that many, many times over, but also democratization. There are trade groups, as in with a lot of your listeners, there are probably trade organizations and every single one of these verticals. And so we have the Society of Petroleum Engineers, which is arguably the largest study petroleum engineers, members will write white papers, research papers, and the society of engineers will turn around and sell for $1,000. And they don’t get a cut of it. And so we could do that not necessarily these white papers, only the end, it really fits what we do, but we can democratize that to where we can take that convert into some sort of content network for creators can get paid for that. So yeah, the ideas are endless. And because we’re not relying on a single source of revenue, we can experiment with things in the same way that Facebook and Google do. If it doesn’t work, we kill it. But ultimately, it all comes down to just having this community. That community is top of mind over absolutely everything that we do. We do a lot of things that make absolutely no money. It’s just an investment into the community and just the right thing to do.
Adam Vazquez 37:29
I love it. Man. I love seeing all the energy, all the ideas that you have behind you. Obviously, we will all keep Stay tuned and keep tabs on what you’re building with Digital Wildcatters and Collide. If people want to keep tabs on that stuff, what’s the best place for them to check you out?
Jake Corley 37:42
Digitalwildcatters.com. We’re all over social media. You can look for me Jake Corley on LinkedIn, Twitter, wherever else. And then my partner Colin McClelland, you can find them there as well.
Adam Vazquez 37:51
Cool. And we’ll link to all of those things in the show notes below. Appreciate you coming on, Jake. And we’ll have to stay connected and catch up again for sure soon.
Jake Corley 37:59
Absolutely, man. Appreciate it.
Carlton Riffel 38:01
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening to this episode of Content Is for Closers. We hope you find this show really helpful as you grow your business with content. Maybe you know of other people who would find this show helpful as well. How about you send them our way? If you didn’t like this show and you want to tell us that, then you can head over to contentisforclosers.com where you can send us a message, give us some feedback, ask questions, or find detailed notes for every episode. Until next time, keep creating and keep closing.