This story is part of the Digital Entrepreneurs series where we explore the secrets behind the success of internet business men and women.
They are not even 30 years old and already have 45 million followers on their social networks. The Velázquez brothers, 23-year-old Lesslie , 26-year-old Karen and 28-year-old Rafael , form the iconic group Los Polinesios , the largest content producer in Latin America for YouTube .
It all started on December 16, 2012 when the brothers began making videos for their family in other states. The name, Los Polinesios , was born from the experiences of his great-grandfather who lived in those islands and who always talked about the experiences he had had in those years.
Almost seven years later, their main YouTube channel has more than 17 million followers, they have a clothing line with their brand, they have a live show that they carry throughout Latin America. From there, the three brothers created Platica Polinesia , one of the leading companies in digital entertainment in Latin America.
In fact, Los Polinesios launched different product lines for Mexico and Latin America, consolidating itself as one of the content creators collectives with the most official merchandising and, since last year, they are the only Hispanic youtubers with a licensing system, with articles that are They sell in retail brands such as Liverpool and Palacio de Hierro.
Not only that, for four consecutive years, Los Polinesios have been one of the few Mexican representatives present in YouTube Rewind – the video in which the platform celebrates the best youtubers of each year- and they have been as guests at events such as awards Grammy and the Billboard Music Awards.
Its content is even extremely popular outside of Mexico since its more than 16.4 million minutes played per month worldwide have a strong influence in markets as diverse as Japan, India, the United Kingdom and Italy.
What’s more, a few weeks ago Los Polinesios wanted to diversify their market by presenting their first single “Festival”, which was produced by Red One, an expert who has worked with Lady Gaga, Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony, Pitbull, Nicky Minaj and Jennifer López. The video has over 68 million views and counting on the Google video platform.
This incredible digital empire arose accidentally, but its growth has been strategic. Today they have five main YouTube channels and three vlogs (one for each brother):
- Los Polinesios , the main one and in which they have more than 17 million subscribers.
- Muses , where they publish recipes and tutorials and have 12 million followers.
- Extra Polinesios , in which they challenge their more than 12 million fans.
- Polynesian talk , where they play pranks on each other for their more than 7 million followers.
- Juxiis to talk about video games to 4 million fans.
Both entrepreneurs take their role as influencers very seriously to give a positive message to the world. Karen has been a contributor to UN Women for the #HeForShe campaign that seeks female empowerment and, along with her sister, is an Education Ambassador for the Pacific Alliance.
We chatted with Karen and Lesslie to find out about their experience as female entrepreneurs in a digital business and discover the key to the success of one of the most popular YouTube channels in the world.
The interview was edited for length and for clarity.
ENTREPRENEUR (ENT): Who are the Polynesians?
Karen: Los Polinesios are three brothers who make entertainment content for all audiences on digital platforms, especially on YouTube.
We are Rafa, Karen and Lesslie, three brothers who started their careers by accident, so to speak, when we posted a video on the internet for our family outside of Mexico City. Seeing how people from other countries got into that conversation in the comments, it caught our attention too much. We were very impressed to see how something so personal could connect with so many people who were not part of our family.
We thought “Is anybody in the world waiting for another joke? Well let’s do it!” and everything was like a snowball that we did not see coming, but we felt very comfortable generating content, making videos talking to other people that we have surely never seen in our lives.
The Polynesians are these three brothers who seven years after uploading that joke on YouTube have millions of followers and who have created many things around that brand.
ENT: How much time do you spend on a video and what planning does it involve?
Lesslie: We have five different YouTube channels, but it’s not just that. We are on all social networks and we create content for everything. That’s what we are: content creators.
We can record a video in approximately one day, but each material has a pre and post production that can vary up to weeks. It also took us several days to produce the various digital content. So, we dedicate our lives 24/7 to be generating content and new products for our followers. Even physical materials to spend more time with our audience.
ENT: What is your content strategy? How do they decide what and when to post?
Karen: We have a bimonthly planning, but sometimes monthly. This is because you advance many things with so much time, you may get that they lose interest or some more arise that you have to be talking about at the moment.
The biggest challenge of working with the internet is that everything is very fast. You upload a video that can have millions of views, but a week no one is interested in that topic.
We try to professionalize the entire content creation part, but at the same time not lose our ability to react to something that is happening or is of interest to our audience. There is a planning of more “normal” content, but we have other videos that are more current, either about the world or our lives because we also share a lot with the audience. Each channel has a defined aspect and we program content according to that nature.
Seven years ago it was easier to stand out, but now there are so many content creators, so it is very important that you define your video style and how you are going to tell your stories. Two videos can talk about the same topic and be completely different materials for the style of each vlogger.
Another thing that is very important is to be monitoring the audience, reading comments, to get ideas for new products. We must always be aware of social networks to know what to get out, what interests the audience now and what we want to propose. We also give ourselves a lot that freedom to try different formats and themes.
ENT: How do you leverage your various YouTube channels and to what extent do you monetize them?
Karen: We at YouTube, having different verticals, we have to diversify our content. Each channel has a specific audience and we take advantage of this business model to understand how you speak to very different audiences.
You are not going to speak the same to someone who likes crafts as to a person who looks for you through video games. Although we are the same people making the videos, we do not speak in the same way from one channel to another. In business it is very important to know who you are talking to in order to understand how to address that person; you can’t just get something out without knowing who it’s going to get to.
Lesslie: As for monetization, it depends a lot because there are high and low times, so it is very difficult to have an exact number. What we have sought is that YouTube is more like our nest from which everything is born and we transform it into a business. You can create, for example, a channel of book reviews, and then you generate a physical event with real people. On YouTube, content is born and afterwards it is up to each one to see how it transforms it into a business.
ENT: How did you realize that “Los Polinesios” could be much more than a video channel?
Karen: It was on the fly. Until almost three years ago we only made videos, but we had the desire to meet these people that you talk to every day, but we did not know who they were. This is how we are presented with the idea of doing a live event, in a small format that will visit several cities.
However, you cannot do something “small” when your audience is made up of millions of people and thus, the number of attendees that we had imagined for a live show grew more and more.
It was difficult for us to find the perfect allies to do this show, but when we managed to make this “click” with the team and the partners, we realized that we had to do more things because we found auditoriums full of thousands of people who They understood our local jokes.
It was something totally different than what we were used to doing, but that helped us see the importance of reaching out to people through completely different platforms. We have the digital, the live show, create merchandise so that the public has something of you, etc.
ENT: How is life for Karen and Leslie? What does it mean for you to be among the YouTube women with the most followers in the world, not only Spanish-speaking?
Lesslie: It is a very strong responsibility since you have a voice that can reach a large audience that can be positive or negative. When I was younger I was very scared to speak in public, that’s why I really like inspiring people to follow their dreams, to surpass themselves and to find a way to continue until they achieve their goals.
Men and women have pre-programmed “No” and we put up barriers saying “I can’t” or “It’s not going to happen.” Go against that “No” we like a lot, inspire people who are afraid to take that step and face the various issues in life.
Karen: When making content it is difficult to have a schedule because if a situation arises at the moment that you have to document and record, then you do it. Since the middle of 2018 we have tried to have a greater discipline, especially in our personal part, because everything we do is mounted on our social networks.
For example, I get up at seven in the morning, I make my breakfast, I exercise and then I go to the office to see pending, but the truth is that most of our time is dedicated to creating, creating and creating content. At night we try to be in contact with our friends, colleagues and all those people who support us to do things. We try to maintain a balance between our lives as content creators and the personal part.
ENT: What has been the strongest crisis that you have experienced as brothers and as entrepreneurs? How did they overcome it?
Karen: The most complicated part that we have come across is that the big companies don’t believe in you and think that what we do is just a fad that is going to pass. Getting them to believe in you to do a big project is important, because many times you do need other people and companies with muscle to do things like live shows and merchandise production.
We have had to fight against that paradigm that we have about content creators who make YouTube, because they think that we just sit in our rooms, turn on the camera and that’s it. No, there is a lot of work behind it and you have a team on your side.
Talking to large companies and making them understand all the impact that is going to have, has been difficult. You have to be convincing people who did not grow up or consume the internet, but that in the end they are the ones who invest in your project, that what you do is here to stay.
Before many companies did not believe in us, but we have demonstrated our experience with facts and cases. That is why the companies that did support us from the beginning are very important allies and have more value for us than those who notice us only now that we already have some success.
ENT: What is a false idea that many people have about YouTuberas?
Karen: As I mentioned before, let them believe that youtubers do not work, that we have nothing to do and that is why we start making content for the internet. That it is very easy to “sit in front of a camera and talk.” That, to begin with, is something that many people do not dare to do. It is not only making the video, but daring to upload it for billions of people to see it and receive comments, good and bad.
Exposing ourselves in this way has given us women on YouTube so much and has empowered us in a great way. People can say a lot of things, but you really know how much work you put into your content. We invite all those people who believe that it is easy to try it so that they can see all the work that it entails and that it is not that difficult to expose yourself and have that strength to accept all kinds of opinions.
Lesslie: On the platform there are many, many women who want to say something to the world and that is very important because sometimes we remain silent (all of us) for fear that our opinion is very different from other people’s. But out there, anywhere in the world, there are those who think like you.
This platform has helped many men and women who want to say something to the world in a positive way to have a forum to achieve it. Of course it is difficult because you have to expose yourself to receiving good and bad opinions, but that should not knock you down and you have to move on.
I truly admire all content creators who have the courage to deliver a message and dare to be heard. That is something incredible that digital platforms have given us.
ENT: What advice would you give to other people, especially women, who want to create content on YouTube and other platforms?
Lesslie: Don’t be afraid. If you have something to say to the world or a dream to share, go ahead. It is not easy, but with perseverance and a lot, a lot of love, you will be able to do it. They will realize that being able to speak and say what they feel the way they want to will empower them and make them feel more beautiful. Many times we only see ourselves with defects, but by giving yourself to listen, you can change that mentality.
Yes, they will face bad comments, but they will find that your opinion resonates with more people than you think. It’s like “OK. We fell, but we got up together. Let’s move on.”
Karen: It doesn’t matter what your dream is or how big your passion is. Sometimes we believe that we have to produce videos like those already made on YouTube or like those that are popular on the platform, and we are afraid to share our taste because we think that no one else will be interested. If you like music, singing, playing an instrument, making a craft, that is, there are many different channels with different audiences.
We do not have to adapt to what already exists, because there are probably people out there who have the same passion as you and want to listen to you. The most important thing is to be genuine so that you can connect with people who like the same as you.
Lastly, always be responsible for what you say on camera and be respectful. You never know who may be seeing you on the other side of the screen watching you and that is why you have to be very delicate when communicating.