Before working with the world’s biggest creators
Before building my business to over $1,500,000
Before selling my business
I was a kid like you.
My name is Sam Weinstein. I was born in Sacramento, California.
And from a young age, I had the typical interests of a young boy: sports, cars, video games, you name it.
But something was different.
For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with technology.
I joined social media at 9, built my first computer soon after, and been a longtime YouTube user.
The first YouTube creators who stood out to me were
- Casey Neistat: a New York City filmmaker creating feature films and vlogs.
- Marquess Brownlee: a tech reviewer showcasing the latest updates.
- The Sidemen: a British group of friends producing gaming videos, challenges, and more.
This interest in the YouTube world inspired me to attend conventions like
- Minecon 2016
- Vidcon 2017
- Vidcon 2018
- Vidsummit 2021
...where I met a ton of amazing people.
In fact, by age 14, I had gained the attention of the world's largest creators and their millions of fans.
But how did I do this?
I found a little-known game called Minecraft.
In 2012, the game was in its infancy with little to do. So I took a break.
When I came back, it was like discovering a gold rush.
Minecraft was unlike any other game. It allowed people to express themselves in ways never before.
You could create anything and everything imaginable while playing with others at the same time.
So I put my creativity to the test and built my own virtual worlds out of blocks and code.
These custom-created worlds were known as "Minecraft maps."
I created games like Hide and Seek, where players hide and others look for them.
Or puzzles like Spot the Difference, where players find the difference between two areas.
Or an "Unfair Minecraft" obstacle course where players race to the end while avoiding deadly traps.
And what's unique about Minecraft is you can upload maps to the internet for anyone to play.
So I took my creations and uploaded them to minecraftmaps.com.
Eventually, I produced so many maps for players that top Minecraft creators played my maps for their YouTube audiences.
The demand grew so big that creators like CaptainSparklez, DanTDM, and others gained hundreds of millions of views.
Minecraft's official website even featured me at one point.
I gave out so much value that creators started reaching out to me requesting early access or custom-made maps for them.
And they were willing to pay for it!
Can you imagine the disbelief I felt as a 15-year-old hearing I would be able to work with the world's biggest creators AND be paid for it?
I was already doing so for free, without expectation!
One of these creators, Preston, offered me a contractor position as a map creator.
I would be working under his content coordinator to come up with viral video ideas and craft them into reality.
So guess what I did?
I forged ideas into life with custom-made maps like
- "World's Most Secure Minecraft Pyramid"
- "What's Inside Minecraft Bedrock?"
- "Ultimate Boat Race"
The maps were a hit!
And I proved my value so fast that I replaced my boss's job and was promoted to a senior role to
- Work with YouTube and Google directly
- Crunch YouTube analytics data
- Ideate and strategize video ideas
- Quality control
- Star as talent in videos
- Server management
- Negotiate prices with vendors
- Integrate brand deals into content
- Discord community administration
- Market competitor analysis
- Coordinate with team and third parties
Essentially, I became Preston's right-hand man—flying to Dallas, TX, three separate times to facilitate business and work in-house.
One of my roles included building an army of world-class map creators.
The goal was to have an endless supply of custom content ready to film.
This became the dream team of Minecraft map creators, including game developers, builders, and artists.
We were responsible for hundreds of custom maps, including an entire advent calendar (30 videos back to back) two years in a row.
Imagine Michael Jordan's dream team, but kids sitting in their parent's basement with untapped potential.
We had people from every continent: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
These guys were incredible. I had never experienced this level of talent with people their age.
I remember a Finnish guy by the name iWacky.
He was one of the most talented humans I had ever seen. His creativity, along with his coding ability, was unmatched.
The crazy thing is, I never once heard his voice or saw his face. And he never took a penny for any of his work.
Each map creator had different motivations for creating.
Some wanted to provide value for free, some wanted payment for their maps, and some wanted free advertising.
It was my job to manage them and make sure everything came together.
I had weekly meetings with map creators for community and accountability, so everyone was clear on direction.
I also managed several thousand people on Discord to be more involved in the overall community.
I filmed with creators like Unspeakable, Bionic, Doni Bobes, Logdotzip, Lachlan, and more (sometimes trolling them behind the scenes for entertainment purposes).
In fact, I hosted four custom-made maps to play during the NBCF Game Pink event.
Where we raised almost $500,000 for charity.
And I worked with Reed Duchscher (MrBeast's manager) to make it happen.
It was quite the experience.
And because I was an independent contractor, I thought, "what's stopping other creators from working with me too, right?"
They noticed what I was doing with Preston and sent me job offers.
One of them, Crainer, tasked me to strategize youtube content, manage his Discord, and quality control content.
So compared to Preston, it was a quarter of the work, and I was paid almost double for it.
At this point, I took home more than some of my teachers made in a month—as a 10th grader.
I'd get messages saying, "we need three other people to film in 5 minutes," as I got off the bus from school and ran home excited.
So when I got back to school, I thought, "Why am I here?".
Don't get me wrong. I achieved good grades and signed up for the right classes: everything my parents expected of me.
But I always felt school wasted my life.
I hated being chained to my desk.
I hated the incentive structure.
I hated the lack of options.
I hated asking permission.
I hated useless subjects.
I hated bad teachers.
I hated toxic culture.
I hated not fitting in.
I was not taught what I wanted or needed to survive.
Instead, my time was wasted on pointless subjects never to impact my life again.
I needed more time to be creative, try career opportunities, and focus on my fiscal future.
My parents argued I would lack social skills if I did this. Yet my social skills were strongest when I was doing what I did best.
Work, calls, and life experience do more to develop social skills than sit in class for 8 hours a day.
I felt trapped in this prison so much I started to rebel.
I realized I could walk out the school's front gate, and no one would stop me.
Or park in the teacher's parking lot.
Or right outside my classroom.
Funny enough, I was a teacher’s assistant for the math class I passed three years prior.
And after passing out papers, I'd sit back, open my Razor laptop, and think, "have fun, suckers!" while I got to work.
Fast forward to 11th grade. I was firing on all cylinders, trying to keep up with the demand.
I managed a team of 50+ Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox game developers for 10 YouTube channels, on top of the other workload.
The gig with Crainer ended. I was studying relentlessly for school. My family relationships were declining, and my mental health was falling apart.
But all things considered, I worked through it.
It wasn't until scheduling became a significant issue that something had to give.
We had brand deals with massive corporations structured around my school schedule.
And when some map creators didn’t finish their work the night before, I manually did their job for them, staying up till 6-7 am on school nights.
It got to a point where it was not sustainable for the business.
So in the spring of 2019, I was forced to leave the company.
This reality DEVASTATED me to my core.
I planned my entire future with the expectation of moving forward with this opportunity.
I structured my whole life around it. I skipped classes. I sacrificed my social life, and I alienated those closest to me.
I even tried convincing my parents to take the rest of high school online.
Fulfilling work was the only thing that gave me a sense of purpose.
I felt hopeless.
But was it all for nothing?
In hindsight, my work has influenced the hearts and minds of the youth BILLIONS of times.
I helped raise almost $500,000 for charity.
I gained a lifetime of experience working with industry leaders at a very young age.
I learned skills like
- How to value your work
- How to deal with bureaucracy/office politics
- Community management
- Building and leading an effective team
- Everything YouTube analytics
- Working with corporations on brand deals
- The power of an authentic brand
- And most of all, work ethic.
Little did I realize this was not the end but the beginning of something unimaginable.
Sh*t was about to hit the fan.
Click here to watch part 2: How I Lost $40,000 at 17