Behind the Model with Shonduras
Shaun McBride is as nice and laid back as they come, but don’t let his cool atmosphere and exterior fool you. He’s smart, ambitious, and plays a big role in an already huge arena of emerging esports giants funded by some of the biggest names in the industry.
Like many other young Mormons around the world, McBride served on a volunteer mission, spent two years in Honduras before college, and began a career. On trips abroad he saw people who lived very differently, without an abundance of material wealth and possessions. Yet most of the people there seemed perfectly happy and content. Shaun returned home to his Utah homeland, inspired by his ministry, with a new sense of making each day count. The effects of this trip flowed into his personal brand and thus into Shaun + Honduras = Shonduras.
McBride’s life wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. He’s had his share of the odds. Despite setbacks, this very responsive adult skater built his brand around being a Youtube influencer, a family man, and an esports phenomenon.
McBride wasn’t one of the cool kids at first. He’s the furthest removed from a typical Instagram model or influencer archetype. Shonduras has long, shaggy hair with a beard and mostly wears long-sleeved plaid shirts with a ball cap on the back, giving the impression that he could work part-time in a skate shop.
In fact, he had his own shop for a while – and might even have had a chance as a professional, but it never worked out. His love for skating never waned, however, and you can find him on a board most days doing his reps either in the office or in the almost-large skate park he built in the back yard of his house.
He eventually gave up the action sports industry for greener pastures in e-commerce. In the early stages of his startup life, Shaun tried many things but found the greatest success selling products online. He identified a demand for jewelry among Facebook mothers and had great success even before Facebook MarketPlace was a thing.
Creative and artistic, McBride decided to bet on Snapchat early on and become one of the rising stars. His talents were recognized by major brands and the media, and he was paid to perform at major events and promote products to increase his influence and take away his fans.
McBride was once offered a Forbes editorial for his work, but had to travel from Utah to New York. Instinctively thinking about how to enhance the experience, he turned to popular New York YouTuber Casey Neistat to put him in the spotlight. This was nothing in return. No deals were made or contracts signed. Just the pure intention of becoming friends and seeing what happens when two smart people get together and talk about their expertise. For me, this kind of genuine desire to do good without expectations is the essence of the Shonduras brand.
On the recommendation of Neistat, Shonduras started investing more time and effort in growing its YouTube channel, and the rest is history. With more than 200 million views per month, McBride has launched new channels with great success, such as the one for his young daughter Adley called A for Adley, who has nearly 3 million subscribers. Shonduras works with brands who want to align their products and services with their programming style.
McBride’s philosophy is to surround yourself with great people. His business partner, who everyone knows as Holladay, is that type of person. McBride and Holladay were together on missions in Honduras and remained close friends. If Shonduras is the creative visionary, Holladay is the operator. From my point of view he is the eyes and ears and directs cooperations and branded businesses. McBride and Holladay formed a type of agency called Spacestation that acts like a parent company or conduit to support all of their business activities. McBride has since added players and people from other genres to the Spacestation franchise. As brands realize the value of shifting traditional advertising dollars online to influencer marketing, it’s a multi-million dollar empire growing at a ridiculous pace.
Shonduras has a magnetic way of attracting good people. He’s a kid at heart and his pursuit of fun is largely unrivaled, especially when he’s with a group of his colleagues. For example, Canadian photographer Pete McKinnon met McBride while speaking at an event in Ireland. The bromance was almost immediate, and both friends identified similar interests in terms of family, skate culture, and more. Holladay explained how Spacestation could help aspiring YouTube star McKinnon close branded deals and manage other activities. McKinnon is now one of several major influencers and gamers working under the wing of the Spacestation.
McBride saw an opportunity to jump into the huge esports arena when he heard of a team of Rocket League players who were talented but didn’t have the resources to come to Europe to compete. He rallied to sponsor them through the Spacestation to represent the players, and formed a team to take part in the tournament. In Spain, the SSG team played well and was crowned world champion. Their esports portfolio is now one of the leading self-funded esports organizations with over 60 players and coaches. SSG is a powerful force.
According to a global esports market report for 2020, the total esports audience will grow to 495 million people in 2020, a growth of + 11.7% year over year. Esports has been around for a while, but it’s just starting out with big players from professional sports, music, and entertainment investing in teams.
Forbes reported in October this year that Guild Esports signed a $ 19 million deal with David Beckham prior to investing and that the list of other hits is long.
Shonduras offers some great business lessons in this episode of Behind the Brand. Although McBride and Holladay didn’t join esports until 2017, they owe their meteoric success and transition to gaming to a deep experience in the creative realm – and of course, being around good people.
McBride’s activities now extend to external investment in new products such as the Magic Spoon grain. It’s the world’s first low-carbohydrate, high-protein breakfast cereal. Magic Spoon was recently listed as one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Best Inventions of 2019. Spacestation Integrations was instrumental in introducing the Peter McKinnon Nomatic travel bag for photographers and production professionals. It brought in a record-breaking Kickstarter launch of $ 2.3 million. McBride is also involved in creator conferences like VidSummit in collaboration with MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) and longtime YouTube expert Derral Eaves. You can see the full length episode here: