YouTube vlogger Ali-A’s love for playing “Call of Duty” has morphed into something far more than a hobby. The vlogger, whose real name is Alastair Aiken, has amassed a following of nearly 8.5 million subscribers with more than 2 billion views.
Those are some serious numbers and a following most advertisers would drool over. So capitalizing on Aiken and other male vloggers who have developed loyal followings on YouTube is something Los Angeles-based StyleHaul is now looking to tap into with a new men’s vertical called Hauk.
The creation of Hauk was organic and very much in line with other strides StyleHaul’s made in lockstep with the evolution or maturing of the content produced by many of its female creators as they grow up, with many of them now mothers or perhaps first-time home buyers posting about their kids or design.
“It came out of a need coming out of the evolution of the community,” said founder and chief executive officer Stephanie Horbaczewski. “We had a great collection of male creators that were really core in the style category. Brands and clients started asking us to activate against this.”
StyleHaul, which was sold to RTL Group of Luxembourg in 2014 in a deal that valued it at more than $150 million, has a network of more than 6,500 creators of fashion and beauty video content across multiple platforms. The company then helps link those creators with and, in some cases, creates content for firms such as Amazon, Verizon and Time Inc., with which it unveiled a deal in March.
StyleHaul’s Hauk currently consists of 70 creators. Aside from Ali-A, there is also Daniel Middleton of the Minecraft-focused channel DanTDM, Joseph Andrews of BluMaan, Joe Sugg and his lifestyle vlog Thatcher Joe, Adam Saleh and his namesake vlog and Olajide Olatunji, who is also known as KSI.
Their numbers are impressive. Olatunji, who raps and acts, has over 14 million subscribers. Middleton’s channel has more than 12 million subscribers and nearly 8 billion views.
“It’s the first time it’s an all-male-catering platform and that’s really cool because up until a little while ago, all beauty anything on YouTube has been women,” Andrews said. “It’s nice to see that Hauk’s noticed the increase in male lifestyle [vloggers].”
Andrews noted the platform is helpful from a collaboration standpoint, not just with brands but with other influencers. He is currently building out a line of hair-styling products and began selling a long-lasting finishing aid about a year ago and is gearing up for the release of a pomade. Hauk has the potential to build out the creator’s business in other ways, too.
“A whole other aspect of our business is we’re helping other influencers launch product companies as well,” Andrews said.
He and his business partner are currently working with three other influencers, providing help on the back end to get those brands off the ground in exchange for an equity stake in those businesses.
There’s a duality to the potential with Hauk, which is currently in talks and close to working out a deal with its first advertiser, according to Horbaczewski.
First, Hauk creates additional opportunity for StyleHaul’s existing advertiser base who may now want to expand into men’s, she pointed out. Additionally, Horbaczewski added, there’s potential for StyleHaul to tap new advertisers in segments such as entertainment, consumer products and automotive.
Overall company revenue in 2015 increased 87 percent, though the privately held company doesn’t disclose specifics on its financials. Projections for this year are expected to be in line with last year’s growth with the full impact of Hauk not likely to be felt until next year, Horbaczewski said.
“There’s a lot going on right now,” Horbaczewski said. “It feels to me as though we’re really seeing a demand and interest in more long-form content.”