Doug Landers, Managing Partner of Greenlight Group, on Building Long-Term Creator Businesses
How can creators build businesses that last decades? Doug Landers, the Managing Partner of Greenlight Group, shares how his team helps creators expand their horizons by building a team around the creator and helping them reach their long-term goals, such as landing a reality TV show. Read on to learn about the start of Greenlight Group and the future of the creator marketplace.
About Doug Landers
Greenlight Group was founded in 2020 by Doug Landers and his two partners, Michael Berkowitz and Brandon Bichajian. Prior to this, Doug was a student at Duke University majoring in Chinese. When the pandemic hit, he began working in the private equity space.
Doug Landers shares, “At the same time, TikTok was blowing up, and people were staying on that app all the time. I was on it [TikTok] until like 4 am every day, like a lot of people. We had a family friend of one of the partners spontaneously do really well on TikTok and gain a couple hundred thousand followers almost overnight.”
Doug and his partners began looking at the family friend’s account and helping her to understand how much she should be charging and how she could continue to grow.
Their friend’s account was seeing more success under their management. Eventually, a few other creators reached out to them, asking if they could work with them, leading to Greenlight Group’s start.
What is Greenlight Group?
According to Doug Landers, Greenlight Group offers three primary components: the standard services business, the manager business, and building business infrastructure.
The manager business deals with negotiating inbound opportunities and solicitations for creators, such as helping them negotiate brand deals and sponsorships.
“What we really think is the most valuable [service] to our creators is helping them build business infrastructure around themselves and teaching them how they can be the head of their own little media business in their own way.”
Doug Landers shares that the Greenlight Group doesn’t look for a particular metric when it comes to choosing creators to manage.
Instead, it comes down to their mentality about growth and personality. Often, when they start working with a creator, the creator is doing everything for their channel or maybe outsourcing only one or two aspects of their business.
However, Doug explains, “In order for you to grow, in order for you to make this [content creation] a meaningful thing that’s going to outlast the cyclicality of social media, you need to build a team around you.”
The first step Doug and his team typically take with creators is building a team for them by outsourcing video editing, thumbnail creation, and more.
Working with Creators
Doug Landers shares that every creator has different needs and stories.
“Every relationship we have with a creator is different because it totally depends on what they need. I like to say that we’re sort of like a Swiss army knife.”
He adds that they offer a huge variety of tools and let the creator choose what it is that they need most, then the Greenlight Group helps them starting from there.
Arianna Hailey is one creator with whom the Greenlight Group has worked for two years. Doug shares that her parents are supportive of her career and have been very involved since the start.
@itsari.aleise @Markell Washington ♬ Conceited – Flo Milli
“What we’ve done for her [Arianna Hailey] is try to push her a little bit more in the thinking about herself as a producer of content. So bringing on video editors for her to help her edit her videos for YouTube, bringing on thumbnail people, setting her up with studio time.”
Another notable Greenlight Group creator, Gabriel Feitosa, needs more help with long-term goals outside social media, like landing his own reality show around grooming dogs.
@gabrielfeitosagrooming Quando a @luisasonza lancou #cachorrinhas eu não pude me segurar e fiz um video! Amo essa musica 🙂 Todos os produtos de coloracao sao veganos desenvolvidos para cães e atoxicos. #banhoetosa #tosacreativa #maltes #poodlegigante #luisasonza ♬ original sound – Gabriel Feitosa
“Our role with him [Gabriel Feitosa] is much more press-oriented, so we help him interface with PR people that he has on retainer. He has personal assistance. He runs a brick-and-mortar store. He has a grooming shop, so our role there is soft of to help him manage the operations of that brick and mortar store while managing his sort of public-facing press and media persona.”
Creators Expanding into New Markets
One of the things that Doug feels is missing in the creator marketplace is the next steps for prominent creators who have expanded and created a team but may be feeling stuck.
He explains, “Eventually, you sort of hit a scale or hit a maturity where you’re selling products. You’re making money. You have a team underneath you. So, now what? That is the problem that a lot of larger creators sort of five, ten, 15 million subscribers in on multiple platforms are having.”
Often, these prominent creators have 20-40 employees and many social media accounts they manage, but they get stuck when considering their next steps.
Doug shares, “The answer to that [problem] commonly is to translate and localize content, and put it into other languages and cater the content, the very specific details of the content to fit the subcultures of the countries that they’re trying to target.”
For example, a food creator may need to change the types of food they work with to appeal to a different audience in another country.
“I think over time, what’s happened is these large creators that are doing millions and millions a year instead of outsourcing the translation, and localization work are going to bring those teams internally instead.”
Doug explains that he believes that bringing the translation and localization internally will allow creators to main high-quality content, more than what can be currently produced with outsourcing.
For example, Mr. Beast is already using his team to dub and sub his work internally to maintain the quality of his content throughout different languages.
Doug shares that Greenlight Group’s vision for the future is continuing with a small roster of creators.
“Our focus is on getting really deep in the weeds with every single creator that we work with. We’re signing new creators and looking to work with new creators actively all the time, but we try to be pretty picky because it ultimately comes down to a personality fit. What I say to all my creators is if you can’t see me as a business partner and your best friend, let’s just not even do it because that’s sort of what needs to happen.”
He adds that Greenlight Group is currently expanding its roster and the number of creators they work with. He is also excited to see more creators access more sophisticated financial tools, as reflected in the news recently.
“That largest creators over time will actually take their media businesses public themselves in more sort of traditional ways over time… but we [Greenlight Group] would like to be a part of building the businesses around our creators, helping them hit scale, translate, localize, hit new markets, and then taking those entities public as sort of vehicles that can be invested in the public market.”
In closing, Doug notes that in the coming years, he expects more and more people will understand and be aware of the value of creators, leading them to want to invest in creators in a meaningful way.