Nate Ruff, Founder of Odd Projects Helping Creators Pursue Their Long-Term Artistic Visions
Many management companies focus exclusively on a creator’s social media presence and career. However, this approach can neglect the creator’s many other talents, especially if they have an artistic vision for their future. Odd Projects is a creator management agency representing top creators and helping them pursue their greater creative goals while diversifying their business into new verticals and scaling their art across all platforms. Today, we speak with Nate Ruff, the Founder of Odd Projects, about how Odd Projects helps creators build successful social media businesses while developing their art to new heights.
About Nate Ruff
Nate Ruff has been in the creator management business for nearly seven years. He’s originally from Chicago and had no background in the entertainment industry until he moved to California for school, where he hoped to pursue the film business.
He shares, “When I got there [California], I quickly realized I knew nothing. I knew nobody, and so I basically started interning as much as humanely possible, as much as my school would allow.”
His many internships and hard work led him to work in the mail room at the long-running talent agency, WME.
“[At WME], People walked faster, talked faster. I was pretty enamored. I felt like I was suddenly in the center of the entertainment business.”
At the end of his internship, he shares that he begged them to let him come back as an intern. This strategy worked, and he began interning in the digital department, where he was exposed to some of the company’s youngest and most innovative agents.
“I was inspired by the opportunity to help provide legitimate representation for this new client category for the agency, and stayed for a handful of years before moving to Anonymous Content to transition to manager, then developed the thesis for Odd Projects.”
What is Odd Projects?
Odd Projects is a creator management company in Los Angeles that was recently featured on Business Insider’s list of top Talent Managers for YouTube Creators in 2022.
Odd Projects represents top creators and supports their clients by expanding their businesses to new verticals, helping them produce projects in many mediums, and scaling their artwork across all platforms. They have also supported clients to raise investment capital.
Nate Ruff shares, “Too many management companies are solely focused on creators as inventory to sell ads. Not enough management companies are focused on creators as artists. Many consider creator representation to be the “Wild West”, which becomes an excuse to offer incomplete service, but the reality is that talent management has existed for decades and the role of a manager is well defined beyond selling ads.”
When managing talent’s careers, the Odd Projects team also focuses on helping the creator’s long-term career goals.
“Odd Projects is meant to discover and empower the most talented artists on the Internet. We diversify their business and increase revenue through partnerships, and then we elevate their business through [the] development of long-term projects.”
Client Successes & Campaigns
Jae and Trey Richards are a comedy brother duo who own the YouTube channel “Jae & Trey”, represented by Odd Projects. Currently, their comedy duo is out of Toronto, and they are in a development deal with Bell Media in Canada to create a television show. The brothers also have a successful podcast “Random Order”, and apparel brand “4YE”
“We recently closed a network deal for them [Jae and Trey Richards] to increase ad sell ads against the podcast [and] help professionalize their podcast operation.”
Another exciting client success story features Evan Puschak, the creator of the long-standing YouTube Channel, The Nerdwriter, who has always dreamt of writing a book. He recently published his first book, Escape Into Meaning, through Simon & Schuster.
Nate Ruff shares that Odd Projects focuses heavily on the larger vision for their clients’ art and businesses when they work with brand partners.
“We’ve been fortunate not to see our advertising partners pull back [despite talk of an economic downturn], and we believe that’s the result of our clients having built a genuine audience over many years as well as the result of our brand partners seeing genuine return on investment.”
The Odd Projects team works with many artists and animators in particular. One of their recent successes was with renowned animator Harry Hambley, creator of Ketnipz. He just released a new animation for Mattel to promote Hot Wheels Skate under the Hot Wheels line.
“They [Mattel] wanted to engage in the partnership because he’s such a talented artist, they wanted an asset of high enough quality that they could use it themselves. We are very proud of that one.”
The Creator Marketplace
Nate Ruff shares that he would love to see a focus on quality in the creator marketplace in the next few years.
“Creators are required to focus heavily on algorithms, and I wish they could focus more directly on their art. Algorithms are not always kind to originality so we focus on supporting originality and believe the broader industry is moving in that direction too.
Nate adds that the algorithm is important because it reflects the audience’s wants. However, many creators have additional talents and expertise outside of social media content, which Nate would love to see more focus on.
The Future of Odd Projects & Talent Management
Nate Ruff shares that he is heavily focused on building the Odd Projects offering, especially now that the pandemic appears to be ending.
“When Odd Projects first launched, our sole focus was ensuring creators were properly supported during the pandemic. Now our focus has shifted to expanding the company offering, and we’ve since hired additional team members to support our clients, and we’ve signed additional clients.”
“The majority of our client’s are doubling revenue year over year. We feel great about the future.”