Hi everybody! My name is Ash and I run an consumer tech channel that reviews, compares and tests the latest smartphones. We run speed tests, spec reviews and side-by-side comparisons of iOS and Android phones. I like to help my viewers buyer’s remorse! Currently, we are uploading 20-30 video reviews a month!
Cursed4Ever! Coming up, I believed that my life was cursed! I spent my early years in Dubai but had to move back to the outskirts of India (Madurai) for high school. And after getting accepted into an great engineering university in India (SRM), family issues got in the way. My parents decided to split and due to various issues related to that, I had to drop-out of college.
I had to immediately find a job. I spent the next seven years in a business process outsourcing firm. It wasn’t ideal and I did many long hours in the night shift. At one point, I was drinking 12 cups of coffee at the office and I started to self-medicate to sleep. By 2011, my insomnia got so bad that I had to quit for health reasons. No family, no job, no college degree – I felt cursed.
There was not much to look forward to at the time. But I always had a sweet spot for tech gadgets. To find some excitement, I saved up and purchased a smartphone – the Galaxy Note. This phone blew me away! I wanted to share my excitement about this phone with my friends – but most of them didn’t care for the technical specs and what was under-the-hood. They just wanted to play Angry Birds! So I decided to create a Youtube video and share with the internet. Viewers liked my video and encouraged me to upload more. However, I was pessimistic that my Youtube channel could grow. What if this failed too? I just decided to name the channel… Cursed 4 Ever (C4E). I guess it was my way of saying “screw you to the universe!” But two years later, my channel started to get real traction and grow big. For the first time, I thought my life my not be C4E!
I also visualized this story on my Note 4 – check it out.
When we first started, the first hurdle was sourcing products to review, accessing better recording equipment and learning to edit and shoot. We tackled it with grit and dedication to uploading videos, week-after-week. Our skills improved with each video. As the channel started to scale, the next bottleneck was to identify what the audience wanted, connecting with them and being able to deliver on a consistent basis.
Well, some still don’t respond to me – hah! But it got much easier to pitch to companies around the 50k subscriber level.
Working with a team is new to me and I am trying to get more efficient with that. In the past, we’ve tried to implement a workflow where each person worked independently. Each member was responsible for testing, filming and editing their own videos. However, this was a mistake! There was a noticeable contrast in quality between the creators’ videos. Now, we pivoted and create videos together as a team. We share the workload of planning, testing, filming, and editing between each other. The video quality is consistent (sometimes better) and there is less pressure. As such, the biggest challenge now is to increase our efficiency as a team.
Haha, this is exactly what I was addressing in the last answer! To continue, Sundar [co-host of the channel] and I are responsible for being in front of the camera and for the voiceovers. Then my wife helps with some of the editing. She also does the voice-overs and on-camera work for our sister channel C4E Tech Tamil (our 2nd channel, which delivers content in Tamil language). Harris, our part-timer, also pitches in from time-to-time.
I have now been running C4ETech for 6 years. But again, operating as a “team” is new to me. It’s very important for all of us to be flexible until we find a consistent rhythm. Many times, everyone pitches in and does whatever is necessary – like a startup!
I’ve listed the equipment in the gear section below. But our setup comes from a series of trial and error. We buy something, test and repeat. But here’s a fun fact. Every time we upgrade our gear, the quality of our video goes down for a few months! A good example is when we upgraded from a $2000 camera to a $10,000 camera (Sony FS7, shown below).
With the $2k camera, I knew all the in’s and outs of it – could get the most out of it. After “upgrading”, I didn’t know how to use the $10K camera to its full $10K potential! To our viewers, it came off as a drop in video quality, despite using equipment that was 5x more expensive. Things like this are common among Youtubers since we are mostly self taught.
We still do. For example, a smartphone on a gimbal is perfect for on-the-go shooting. In our very early days, I’d also use cheap white charts as a background. They charts don’t reflect light and provide a nice white background. It did the job.
I don’t really dont focus on affiliate conversions – so they are all over the place depending on the product and the buying season. However, making verbal callouts in the video seem to help.
Way too many to list here – haha! But equipment is definitely one area. In India, there aren’t many places where I could walk in and test out equipment with my own hands. So I research on Youtube. However, many of the product reviews I see on Youtube focus on features which are more relevant for vloggers or short-film makers (i.e. creators who film outdoors). They like to focus on design specs and new features like weather-proofing. But this is not important for a creator like me who is shooting indoors, at the same location, over-and-over again.
So I have gone through a lot of guess work and…buyer’s remorse! However, friends like Armando Ferreira, Saf from SuperSaf TV, Jon Rettinger from TechnoBuffalo have been a great help. Hell, I’ve even mailed MKBHD a few times!
And despite their hectic schedules, all of these guys have answered and helped. Youtube has got quite a nice and helpful community!
We are in the process of moving to a larger space. We want to be covering a lot more tech – not just smartphones. Computers are where we’ve got our eyes set to next!