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#3: Side-hustle that turned into a $550K revenue generating company

Learn how Ayush Wadhwa turned a side-hustle into Owled media

Side hustles are a great way to diversify your income sources, but they also have many more upsides! Ayush's decade of side-projects has led to a full-time entrepreneurial stint straight out of college.

🤯Started a YouTube channel at 13 years of age

💸Freelanced as a filmmaker making $5K/month 

🤩Grew audience on Instagram to 138K followers

🔥Created a viral clip that became the most viewed on the Incredible India page (20Mn+ views) and was shared by Michael Jordan

Side-hustle that turned into a $550K revenue generating company

Ayush Wadhwa, our featured hustler, spearheads Owled Media, a content agency. In its less than two years of existence, Owled is disrupting the advertising and content ecosystem. It has a clientele of brands like Cred, Unacademy, Ankur Warikoo and reached a milestone revenue of $550K in the first month of FY 2022-2023. It is a great success story, but it has been 10 years in the making.

It all started with the dream of a 13-year-old boy

13-year-old Ayush was fascinated by the power of storytelling and the impact it can create. He was also very interested in technology. When YouTube started becoming popular in India, he would spend hours watching videos. And unlike many others, he decided to explore his interests and start a YouTube channel called Technicia Studio. The channel had app tutorials and unboxing of gadgets and phones. With self-taught skills and around 20000 views, he earned his first dollar on the internet from YouTube Ads. His videos also got him his first-ever client for whom he would script, shoot, and edit.

He was studious and did well in school, but his side hustle helped him discover the power of storytelling and the internet. And had a dream goal to create the best YouTube channel in the world.

In the life of a middle-class Indian, 11th & 12th grade are two years that can make or break your career. Ayush wanted to become an engineer, so he put his dream on hold and focused solely on his studies.

Becoming a Filmmaker and an Engineer side-by-side

The two years of hard work resulted in him crack entrance to some of the top colleges, and he decided to pursue Mechanical Engineering and MSc Chemistry at BITS Pilani.

But coming to BITS taught him how to dream bigger. Observing the way his peers talked about world domination and running multi-million start-ups, he got a stronger drive to execute his ideas and decided to re-ignite his love for creating videos.

He started to freelance and said yes to every work he could get. He started spending time with talented and creative people, helping him enhance his storytelling, editing, and cinematography skills. He came with a set of skills that very few people had, and very soon, he found himself running with Milind Soman one day and traveling with Thomas Cook the other. As a freelance cinematographer and editor, he delivered amazing work for brands (GoPro, Thomas Cook), influencers/actors (Boman Irani, Kangana Ranaut, Raj Kumar Rao, Bosco Caeser, Milind Soman), and more. He was an engineer by choice but a filmmaker by heart, as seen in his high-quality portfolio of projects.

At this point, he was earning $5k/month and wanted to take a bigger leap. So in 2019, he started his own content creation agency- MotionStropper. But unlike freelancing, it was not easy. For almost six months, he could not get a client. His first business had failed, and he was not making any money. 

When in doubt, just execute

Not making anything can be daunting when you get into the habit of earning your own money. Ayush lost the confidence with which he had started that agency and took a break. 

So, he jumped into different side projects. The very first was restarting the freelance gigs. He started posting content on Instagram when was in his first year of college and grew it to 16K followers. And decided to share his knowledge of growing on Instagram by conducting workshops on audience building. He also began to sell photography templates that he used for his pictures. And that was not all; he also created a podcast to share stories of content creators, artists & entrepreneurs.

He was in beast execution mode, working on multiple side projects while also working on completing his thesis. Yet he was feeling lost. His freelance gigs were scanty, his peers were applying for jobs, and a pandemic was looming worldwide. The agency's failure had blurred his vision of his achievements so far.

But for hustlers, a breakthrough is always around the corner.

The viral video & cold email that changed it all

It was his 4th year of college, and before the campus was shut because of the pandemic, he had taken a beautiful drone clip of the temple on the campus. The pandemic bought his life to a standstill like most of the world, and he was feeling really low. But 2-3 months down, he found the drone clip of the temple on his laptop, and he realized he had captured the moment in perfect symmetry, and the artist in him was very proud. 

He shared the clip on his Instagram, and his art got the love it deserved. It became viral, with 100+ Instagram accounts sharing it. It became the most viewed video on Incredible India's page. It was also sent to the Prime Minister's Office to be featured in Mann Ki Baat by Prime Minister Modi.

The success of this video re-kindled his zeal and enthusiasm, and he decided to take a bet. He wrote a cold email with a proposal to Ankur Warikoo. A proposal to help increase the quality of Ankur's video content with his skills. And in a few days, he cracked a deal to produce all video courses of Ankur Warikoo. It was huge for a 4th-year student, and that was the birth of Owled Media. The second client was Cred, and very soon, he was running an agency while also completing his college. He graduated in 2021, and since then, Owled has grown leaps and bounds with a vision to truly disrupt the content ecosystem for creators and tech brands in India.

Hustlers Insights of the Week

Ayush sees himself as a builder and constantly works on some side projects as it allows him to explore different things and focus on something if it has potential. Here are some tips from him for your next side-project

🚀 Side projects are great avenues to experiment, have fun and explore your passions. So start one not to earn money but to learn and explore.

✅ Don't start many things together: Ayush is guilty of this and thinks one should not do so. Instead, start one side-project and get it to a point where many things can be automated before beginning another.

👊Side projects are risk averse as you have a cushion of your primary job. So don't think much and just do it.

Did you learn something new about side-income reading this? If yes, share it with a friend to increase the surface area of knowledge so that more & more people can know of ways to make money.

Also, know anyone (who is making money while having a full-time job) we should feature? Let us know by writing to [email protected] and we will get chatting!