Gary Vaynerchuk is a ubiquitous entrepreneur, investor, author, vlogger, and motivational speaker. He’s become a master at producing highly engaging and inspirational bite-size content on social media channels such as Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, SnapChat, and YouTube. He has successfully started his own companies as well as a digital marketing agency that he co-founded with his brother.
But before social media influencer fame, Vaynerchuk was always an entrepreneur who helped build a multi-million-dollar business long before the digital limelight.
Below we take a look at Vaynerchuk’s remarkable career in business, let’s explore his journey to becoming one of the most prominent figures in social media today.
Early Life and Schooling
Gary Vaynerchuk’s entrepreneurial journey began when he was born on November 14, 1975, in Bobruisk, Russia. He was raised by a mother and father who desperately wanted to escape the communist regime of the Soviet Union, and as a result Vaynerchuk and his family immigrated to the United States, without knowing any English, when he was just three years old.
They settled in Edison, New Jersey. There, Vaynerchuk’s father worked in a small liquor store before saving up enough money to run a business of his own. In 1988, just 10 years after moving to America, Vaynerchuk’s dad was able to become a partner in another wine location, 300 square feet in size, located in the same community. He eventually managed to buy out his partner’s share in the business which was called Shopper’s Discount Liquors.
Like his father, Vaynerchuk had an entrepreneurial spirit and was not afraid of hard work. One of his first entrepreneurial endeavors involved pulling flowers out of his neighbor’s garden, and reselling them right back to them. He also ran a chain of multiple lemonade stands as a child, before selling baseball cards (and making thousands of dollars) in his early teens.
In a 2014 interview on TheBlaze, Vaynerchuk shared that unlike most immigrant parents who often pressured their children to excel in school, his parents did not mind the fact that he was not an ‘A’ student. He explained that they were not too worried because he was making anywhere $2,000 to $3,000 a week from his various business ventures while in middle school.
When Vaynerchuk turned 14, his father had him working in the family business on the weekends and on every school holiday. He has said that his experience in the wine store helped him to learn many valuable business lessons like the importance of nurturing long-term relationships with customers. He left New Jersey and enrolled at the Mount Ida College in Boston, Massachusetts. There he earned a bachelor’s degree.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s Journey to Building Wealth
Following his graduation in 1998, Vaynerchuk returned to his hometown of New Jersey to continue working in the family wine business. While at college, Vaynerchuk was exposed to computers and the Internet, and he quickly realized that they could be powerful resources for growing his father’s business.
Long before email marketing was a thing, he found creative ways to market his father’s wine business, often emailing weekly discounts and specials and sharing his favorite wine recommendations through his point of view.
Before learning about e-commerce, Vaynerchuk’s expansion goal for the liquor store was to slowly open up several brick and mortar locations across his state and then eventually across the country.
However, he instead started a website called WineLibrary.com with the hope that he could dramatically increase the rate at which inventory from the wine store was sold. Within five years of launching the website, sales from the store increased from $3 million to $60 million a year.
Becoming a Social Media Personality
Vaynerchuk’s rise to fame all began with a 20-minute daily YouTube show that he started in early 2006, roughly a year after YouTube was founded. The show was called Wine Library TV, and it gave Vaynerchuk a wide platform to share wine reviews and indirectly promote WineLibrary.com.
Over time Vaynerchuk’s YouTube following grew, and he was eventually asked to appear on The Conan Show in 2008. Of course this appearance had a snowball effect, as other well known television shows and publications subsequently produced features on Vaynerchuk and his use of social media to indirectly grow his business and his brand. He later became a very active Twitter user. There he built an audience of more than 1.3 million people.
Gary still produces daily vlog videos on YouTube only these days its with assistance from his team. Videographers, social media specialists, and graphic designers help amplify Vaynerchuk’s brand on all of his social media platforms.
Gary has fine-tuned a content creating machine. His daily vlogs show him in real-life settings such as client meetings, employee interactions, press events, and doling out financial advice. A few example YouTube videos include “My 5 Biggest Failures in Business” and “How to Find Your Path to Happiness.”
Vaynerchuk prides himself on having the privilege of being transparent and sharing his struggles and successes honestly and candidly. As of January 2019, Gary has 1,899,943 subscribers on YouTube.
After his success with WineLibrary, Vaynerchuk shifted his focus to a digital marketing agency that he started with his brother AJ Vaynerchuk called VaynerMedia. Gary was eager to take the marketing and personal branding skills he had learned through his own trial and error and turn them into an empire that helped other clients replicate his success.
VaynerMedia is a full-service global agency that services big name clients such as Chase, PepsiCo, Hulu, Toyota, Johnson’s, Shell, Green Mountain Coffee, the NBA, and more. The firm provides these big corporations with robust social media strategies, many of which Gary has experienced great success with.
The agency offers services such as strategy, creative, paid media, production, influencer programs, and Vayner mentors – a premium consulting service that helps million dollar businesses grow and scale their companies.
VaynerMedia was founded in 2009 and has a staff of over 600 employees around the world. In 2016, the agency grossed $100 million in revenue.
Additionally, Vaynerchuk does several speaking engagements throughout the country each year, and often charges as much as $100,000 for a single presentation.
Gary is also a bestselling author and has published five books. His most recent being Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too (2018) and #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness (2016). He also authored Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World (2013), The Thank You Economy (2011) and Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion (2009).
His books offer actionable tips and tactics, new lessons, social media tips, personal branding advice, and inspiration drawn from his own experiences as well as those of successful influencers and entrepreneurs who took untraditional paths to success and pursued their dreams. His books include a mix of advice and data-driven metrics to back up his case.
The GaryVee Audio Experience is Gary’s podcast. The podcast is a mix of #AskGaryVee episodes, keynote speeches, entrepreneurial advice, digital marketing topics on social media and branding, interviews, fireside chats, and Gary’s entrepreneurial thoughts. He has produced over 300 podcast episodes.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s Net Worth
According to Investormint, Gary is currently worth $160 million and is projected to soon be worth $200 million.
Vaynerchuk makes money through his companies which include VaynerX, a media and communications holding company, VaynerMedia, his advertising agency, Gallery Media Group, PureWow, a women’s lifestyle brand, and ONE37pm, a men’s lifestyle brand. He is also a partner to VaynerSports, Green Street, and Resy.
Gary became an angel investor and invested in big tech companies such as Facebook, SnapChat, Tumblr, and Twitter early on – way before they were as big as they are now. He had an intuition and knack for predicting consumer behavior long before it was even happening.
The Bottom Line
Gary Vaynerchuk is without a doubt one of the most talked about entrepreneurs on social media. He immigrated to this country at a very young age along with his family, and developed a strong interest for the world of business during his youth. After graduating college, he began working full-time for the family wine business.
Around that same time, the Internet was just becoming popular and Vaynerchuk leveraged it to sell wine to a much wider audience.
In a relatively short period of time, his efforts on e-commerce grew the business’ sales from $3 million a year to more than $60 million annually. With the rise of social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter in 2007, Vaynerchuk slowly started to become a personality by building a strong online following of several million people.
Since then, he has written multiple New York Times bestselling books and has made millions of dollars from his early stage investments in successful startups including Wildfire, RebelMouse, and Medium.