If BMX is your thing, chances are you’ve heard of a website called The Come Up. Adam Grandmaison, or Adam22 as he’s known to many is the mind behind the site, which, almost by accident, has become perhaps the largest BMX website on the web.
Here for the first time, Adam sheds light on how The Come Up blew the competition out of the water and lets BikeRumor in on a new components brand dubbed OSS that he’s set to drop in just a few months time…
Home town: Nashua, New Hampshire
Fave place to ride: Anything I can smash some pegs on.
Life and Media
BIKERUMOR: In your own words, give us an introduction into your life and your business:
That’s quite a question, so forgive me for being long winded. Basically I started The Come Up four years ago on a lark. It was around the time that Youtube started exploding in popularity so I was seeing lots of web videos from young kids and companies, but no website was doing a good job compiling them. Ride is pretty much the longest running BMX news/video site, but they had what I think is an archaic policy against posting videos on any platform besides Quicktime at the time. So I started a Blogspot and just began posting videos here and there. I promoted it on some messageboards pretty heavily. Then I got into doing text interviews with pro’s and after I’d do those, I’d send the links to their sponsors so I started getting more and more fans that way. I figured that I could keep any other competitors from emerging just by having a really intense work ethic, so I would put in eight hours a day easily scouring messageboards and websites for new videos (this was before I had really grasped the concept of RSS feeds) and just steadily grew the site. I never really questioned why I was working so hard on it or anything, which is odd since it was cutting into the time I was spending working and making money, I just thought it was cool that so many people seemed to appreciate it.
Probably the moment where it became clear to me that TCU was going to become a business and not just a hobby was when some companies told me they wanted to do ads on the site. Right after he told me that, coincidentally I went on vacation with my ex-girlfriend for a week and I had that whole time to think about my future and I guess that I kinda realized the scope of what I had on my hands and decided to become obsessive about making TCU as successful as possible. Over time I started putting out more and more shirt designs and that became a bigger and bigger aspect of TCU as a business model, although I still make 90 percent of the site’s revenue through advertising.
BIKERUMOR: Do you come from a media background or have you studied any form of publishing in the past?
BIKERUMOR: ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fair to say youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve blown some major competition out of the water online, could you ever have anticipated your site being more popular than some of the major publishers?
I guess early on I came into things with the viewpoint of an actual rider, not an old ass industry dude. And while I do everything I can to accomodate and work with my advertisers, I never let them dictate the content of the site in a way that interferes with the viewing experience. I guess my viewpoint on what BMX is just matches up with what the viewers want to see. And in my humble opinion, I work my face off and do a really good job at what I do.
BIKERUMOR: Have you ever run into trouble/criticism from industry figures for re-publishing web videos?
Not really, companies put their videos online with the intent of having them seen. Even if they don’t like TCU, they apparently appreciate the promotion since I’ve never heard any criticism from the companies themselves.
BIKERUMOR: Can you pinpoint any tough moments during TCUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history? And a few highlights?
I wouldn’t say there have really been any tough moments. But about a year ago I decided I wanted to do something more with my life than just run The Come Up and I basically concluded I was either going to go back to college and get a degree, probably to be an advertising copywriter, or I was going to start a parts company. And well, I’m pretty damn happy I didn’t go back to school.
Highlights… I think Robbie Morales giving me the introductory Cult web video along with his first interview since leaving Fit was a big moment. On a personal level, putting out my own web video of myself was really awesome and the feedback I got was pretty crazy. So that was fun.
BIKERUMOR: YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re branching out, creating other websites and blogs Ã¢â‚¬â€œ whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the thinking behind these off-shoots?
I have a personal blog called Surfing Beans and a new site called Them dropping soon. Surfing Beans exists for anything that isn’t BMX related that I find interesting. Rap videos, comedy shit, stories about things that have happened to me over the years, anything not BMX really. Them is a new site that focuses on more on quality wheras TCU was founded on quantity, and it’s going to be a platform for a lot of original content from my new parts company OSS as well as some other new brands I’m working with.
BIKERUMOR: At what point did TCU become less of a blog and more of a business requiring dedicated time and attention?
After I started getting advertisers on the site I would sort of set goals for TCU like, can I make 300 dollars a month? After that, could I make 1000 dollars a month? It just kept growing and growing and then one day I decided to quit my “day job” (I had been playing poker professionally for about 3 years) and focus entirely on making The Come Up as big as possible. I wasn’t really happy playing poker and I was nervous about giving up all the income I had been making playing poker, but I knew that if I gave TCU my full attention I would be able to accomplish a lot more. Haven’t looked back since.
BIKERUMOR: Are you still surprised when big companies ask you to host their web vids as exclusive content?
Nah. I’m surprised when companies don’t want to promote their original web content through a site like The Come Up or Defgrip. Brands really aren’t doing themselves any favors by just dropping their shit on Vimeo. The promotion provided by something like Cult Week where we dropped team interviews every day for a full week to build up hype for their first video is invaluable.
BIKERUMOR: Is there a long term plan for TCU? Do you fear any competition emerging?
The long term plan is to keep killing it the way I’ve been doing it the last four years. As far as competition, I’m not worried. There have been a lot of “Come Up killer” sites that were supposed to blow up over the years and none have. I learned a long time ago I didn’t need to worry about anyone else, I just needed to work my ass off as hard as I could. The Come Up isn’t even in the same galaxy as any other sites, to be honest, if I thought any site could really take on TCU, I’d tell you.
BIKERUMOR: How do you handle the criticism TCU occasionally gets?
I’m kind of desensitized to it. It’s the kind of thing where most people don’t really hear hurtful things said about them too often, so when they do, it matters. I read the comments on posts all the time and I guess in the beginning the negativity sort of bothered me, but it helped me develop a better sense of self in general. I think I’m at the point where I’ve kind of rose above being influenced by what other people say about me negative or positive.
BIKERUMOR: You let slip that thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a parts company on the way, what can you tell us about that?
Yeah it’s true, the company is called OSS and I’ve been working on it for the past year. I’ve had some false starts, different distributors I was going to work with and stuff but the way thing are turning out is better than I could have ever hoped for.
BIKERUMOR: Will this be TCU branded?
No, there’s no connection to The Come Up, they are two separate entities that I just happen to own. I wrote out a big email to every BMX company I could think of a few weeks ago and it got posted on some sites where I basically just described how there wouldn’t be any favoritism on TCU in regards to the promotion of OSS and how I wouldn’t personally be posting about OSS on TCU or anything. It’s a situation where there’s a lot of room for me to do things that might be unfair to the companies that advertise on TCU already, but I think everyone in BMX who matters in the equation knows I’m a pretty reasonable guy and wouldn’t do anything like that.
BIKERUMOR: Any prototype components in the works?
Yeah, we’ve got a lot of stuff in the prototype stages, I’m not sure what is dropping when but we have prototype bars on our bikes right now and should have those plus a few other things for sale by April along with the first OSS DVD called “Football”.
BIKERUMOR: Will these be U.S.-made, or Far-east sourced?
You can’t really do most stuff in America, but where applicable (bars, forks etc) we’re having our stuff made in the states by S&M.
BIKERUMOR: Are you going this venture alone, or do you have any industry insiders helping you work things out?
I’ve seen a bunch of people online say that I’m just working as a brand manager for an existing distributor or whatever which isn’t the case, I own OSS but I am working closely with Rich Hirsch who is also in the process of launching his own new company, Stranger. Honestly it’s a pretty amazing situation to be in and I feel a little weird talking about it, because the way things seem to be happening is almost too good to be true, just with how much excitement the kids have already shown towards OSS even without knowning much about it. Plus, how excited all these established foreign distributors are to work together. I feel like I’ve got something really special on my hands and it’s like I’ve been keeping a secret the past year and I’m just now finally getting to tell people about it, but I don’t think people will really understand until the video drops, the website’s up and the parts are available.
BIKERUMOR: Who is on the OSS team?
The people who are going to have full parts in the video are Craig Passero, Garrett Reeves, Rory Ellis, Mike Mastroni, Alex Platt, Jake Seeley and Charlie Crumlish. So I guess that’s the basic team, although there are a lot of other guys in the video too. I didn’t plan the team out really. I tried to, but what it looks like now is completely different than what it started as, the whole thing happened pretty organically, which is really the way it should happen. I’m happy about not having any big name established dudes on the team just because it’s like everyone is coming into this on sort of even ground. It would be kinda weird to bring some pro dude in, even if I was already friends with him and start paying him a bunch of money when a dude like Garrett has been killing himself for the past year for the DVD.
BIKERUMOR: What do you make of the demand for TCU t-shirts and how do you feel about kids on the board submitting designs?
The demand is crazy. I never would have thought I’d be able to sell as many shirts as I have over the past couple years. It’s kinda overwhelming seeing kids wearing them all the time, but I’m super grateful for all the support. Kids on the board submit stuff all the time and in a few instances I’ve actually put their designs into print. It’s not common, but I’m not going to turn down a good idea that I think is marketable.
BIKERUMOR: Any plans for another TCU branded dvd?
All my efforts filming wise have been going towards OSS. I’d like to do another TCU DVD someday and we’ve tossed around a bunch of ideas, but nothing is planned for the immediate future.
BIKERUMOR: YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve just set up UK distribution via Crucial Ã¢â‚¬â€œ are you expanding your territory any further?
Yeah. I met the guys from Crucial last Summer and we hit it off. I’m really into what they’ve got going on over there and they were super excited to help me move TCU shirts overseas. I’ve got a rider out there in Bristol named Tom Hill and we’re going to be doing some print ads for the shirts through Crucial in Ride UK. Everything is going super well and I’m really excited, I get a lot of love when I’m out and about in the states, but being in England kids were even more excited about The Come Up and I kept getting asked about how they could get TCU shirts out there, so it should be dope.