From Bedroom to Boardroom: How a Gen Z B2B Creator Turned His Passion into a Media Empire

Michael Sikand b2b creator

In April 2020, Michael, a student at the University of Michigan, was sent home just like everybody else due to the pandemic.

With the words of one of his mentors in mind “never let a good crisis go to waste” and a new microphone from his mother, he started a podcast from his bedroom.

Our Future is going to be huge”.

This is what he told his mother and started to invest his time into growing his podcast while also attending university remotely.

1B collected views and almost 2.5 years of hard work later and he managed to sell his company to Morning Brew at the age of 22.

TL;DR

1. Start small but think big

2. Pivot when it needed

3. Always find a partner

4. Dream big but keep doing what you are good at

5. It’s never too early or too late to start creating content

Who is Michael Sikand

As I mentioned before, Michael was a student at the University of Michigan where he studied business administration and computer science.

When the pandemic hit, he started Our Future as a podcast series in May 2020, interviewing entrepreneurs and innovators such as Mark Cuban, Chamath Palihapitiya, and Brian Chesky.

Driven by a huge passion he used to publish three interviews per week while being full-time student.

But unfortunately he had little audience and no revenue, so he quit after making 150 episodes.

Lucky for him, TikTok burst and he took advantage of that, transforming all his content fit for TikTok into 30-60 seconds videos.

He went from little audience to tens of millions of views, having more reach than mainstream media, in only a couple of months.

The audience grew, but the revenue didn’t.

So it was time to change that.

Michael hired his fellow student Simran Sandhu as co-founder and COO, and together they expanded Our Future to produce short-form business news video content for Gen Z across various platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat.

While doing so, he also built a consulting agency that advised companies like Shopify, HubSpot, and Warby Parker on social media strategy to grow his revenue.

His long-term vision and a big ambition to create the next media empire for Gen Z. He wants to build a global brand that reaches millions of people and impacts their lives positively.

But he soon realized that his business strongly relied on platforms’ mysterious algorithms and needed something more stable.

That’s when he decided it’s time to sell the business. After months of discussions with the Morning Brew team, they’ve come to a fair price and sold the company.

He sold Our Future to Morning Brew, a leading business newsletter and media company, in January 2023, becoming one of the youngest founders to exit a media startup at age 22.

Making him a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree in the media category for 2023.

At Morning Brew, Sikand leads the Our Future content and expands its short-form video content, getting into long-form YouTube, while Sandhu leads the Our Future Agency, which is also a part of Morning Brew.

What makes Michael Sikand the Gez Z B2B Creator

Sikand creates video content that educates and informs his audience about topics such as entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, finance, and culture.

He managed to create a diversified revenue model that leveraged his content and audience to generate income from multiple sources, such as subscriptions, advertising, and consulting.

Even though he sold his business, he is now part of the Morning Brew team. Together with his business partner Simran Sandhu, Michael is the Gen Z face that produces video and audio podcasts series about all the emerging entrepreneurs and their strategies for succeeding in business.

He continues to be deeply involved and he is the voice behind successful short form videos where they present successful entrepreneurs.

Besides working alongside Morning Brew, Michael takes time to build his personal brand on Linkedin and Twitter while connecting the audience with the podcast.

In one of his LinkedIn posts, Sikand writes that the reason for his success and massive view is not because he takes time to tweak his posts for each platform, but because people love stories. And that’s what he offers them no matter the time of the day, or the format, or the audience.

The reason he can be called a B2B creator is because he has a unique perspective and voice that resonates with Gen Z who are the future of business and media. 

Understanding their preferences and behaviors let him tailor his content in the format Gen Z likes most: short-form videos.

Michael’s long-term vision and big ambition is to create the next media empire for Gen Z. He is the voice of Gen Z in an industry that needs perspective and wants to build a global brand that reaches millions of people and impacts their lives positively.

To do so, he built a media company where together with his business partner, Simran, started to create content to help other businesses achieve their content goals and reach Gen Z.

He caught Alex Lieberman and Sam Parr’s attention with the interviews that he was doing.

He later helped Sam Parr’s podcast My First Million Podcast to get hundreds of thousands of views on their podcast and helped Alex Lieberman with thousands of new subscribers to Morning Brew.

His talent of creating content that attracts grew an interest in Morning Brew which eventually acquired Our Future.

But that did not stop Michael nor Simran to continue what they’ve done before.

Moreover, they were encouraged to continue their work

Why?

Because Michael’s passion for content creation connects the Gen Z audience with the Morning Brew brand, but more on this later.

Let’s talk a bit about Our Future.

What is Our Future

We’ve already said that the mission was to redefine business media for Gen Z by producing engaging and informative content across various platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat covering topics such as entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, finance, and culture.

After being acquired by Morning Brew, Our Future did nothing but constantly grow.

Before hitting one month on the Our Future podcast was enjoying more than one million views and thousands of listeners.

Who’s the target audience for Our Future

It should be pretty obvious by now that its audience is Gen Z – people born between 1997 and 2012.

According to the founder and CEO of Our Future, Michael Sikand, their target audience is “young people who are curious about the world and want to learn more about the stories and trends that shape it”.

Some of the characteristics Our Future Gen Z’s audience are:

  • They are digital natives who consume content on various platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat
  • They are socially conscious and care about issues such as diversity, sustainability, and social justice
  • They are entrepreneurial and innovative, with a desire to start their own businesses or pursue their passions same as Michael
  • They are optimistic and resilient, with a growth mindset and a willingness to learn from failures.

This generation is the future of business and media, and they have different preferences and behaviors than older generations.

Michael knows that and fiercely comments about the older generation on Our Future podcast launch day. 

Quit listening to 40 year olds who got lucky in dot com

By creating content that appeals to their interests and needs, Our Future Podcast aims to build a loyal and engaged community of followers.

Why did Morning Brew acquire Our Future

From a marketing perspective, Morning Brew needed to increase its reach and appeal to Gen Z audiences.

Long before acquiring, Morning Brew was actually a customer of Our Future looking to drive email conversions for the newsletter.

The duo, Michael and Simran, created a video interview with Alex Lieberman, co-founder of MB, suggesting Our Future audience to subscribe to Morning Brew.

@ourfuturehq

Morning Brew is killing it. I interviewed their CEO, Alex Lieberman ☕️📈 #business #media

♬ Started From The Bottom – Started From The Bottom

Due to this, back in the fall of 2021, Our Future ended up driving tens of thousands of new subscribers to Morning Brew. 

After that, Our Future posted some videos about Morning Brew’s newsletter again last year.

Since then, Morning Brew’s newsletter audience was around 30, but the broader audience was anywhere between 25 to 40, said Austin Rief in an interview back in the 2022.

Now, as they’ve started to adapt to the new trends, their audience is based around 18 to 34, a population which prefers to read and listen to daily news on social media platforms. 

Morning Brew acquired Our Future to set the brand as an important source of news for Gen Z and to leverage its expertise and brand recognition in short-form video to attract and retain more Gen Z consumers.

If we’re talking about distribution, Morning Brew also wanted to diversify its product offerings and expand beyond its core email newsletters especially since 61% of the younger generation prefers short-form videos.

Our Future had a diversified portfolio of IP, including podcasts, newsletters, videos, and consulting services. By acquiring Our Future, Morning Brew accessed new formats and channels to distribute its content and reach new audiences.

That’s why MB launched Our Future Podcast starring Michael and Simran.

Besides marketing and distribution, acquiring Our Future could potentially lead to increased revenue streams and growth potential for Morning Brew.

Our Futures scalable business model with income from multiple sources as mentioned above, could be beneficial for MB to come with new monetization strategies and new client relationships.

How OurFuture was acquired by Morning Brew

Based on the Founders Journal Pod created by Morning Brew, you can find why Michael and Simran decided to sell the company and what lessons we should take from it.

Some entrepreneurs decide to sell their company due to underperformance, scaling issues, burnout, opting for exit over hiring, joining larger entities for resources, or many other reasons.

This was not the case for these two youngsters, as their company was generating more revenue than ever before selling it to Morning Brew.

The media space Our Future operated in, short-form video, is a challenging category because you have no control over the views, audience, and much depend on social media’s algorithms. 

Having a sustainable business that can stand the test of time in these conditions was hard, and this is why they’ve decided the best thing to do is sell.

But they did their homework.

Michael and Simran started thinking of creative ways to get on an acquirer’s radar.

How to do that? Think of who would want to buy, whether established competitors, funded startups eager to expand, strategic partners like DTC companies, SaaS giants for lead gen, or private equity aiming to enhance the business.

Then engage with acquirers through collaborations, ad deals, investments, or even through LinkedIn.

Our Future thought of established competitor Morning Brew.

Then the duo positioned their company for exit by making their ideal acquirer a customer.

After, they’ve driven real value for their potential acquirer by suggesting their audience to subscribe to Morning Brew.

As it usually happens in business, the negotiation and selling took longer than expected.

But they were lucky to have a strong team, including their associate John Pleasants, former president of a Disney unit who was also on the Peleton board, that helped them with the negotiations.

What they wanted to obtain was selling the company but negotiating with the sellers to hire them and continue to work on what they’ve accomplished from Morning Brew.

Once that happened, Our Future relocated to New York to align with Morning Brew aiming to enhance content value and expand audiences through collaboration.

Not only that, but they needed to build strong relationships post-acquisition to establish trust with internal stakeholders.

Once things started to settle, the duo had more time to focus doing what they’ve done before but at another scale.

Lessons B2B Creators can learn from Michael Sikand

1. Start small but think big

Who says you have to be an expert or have authority in your industry to start something?

Michael created a distribution channel for people who had this authority. 

He started interviewing them in his business podcast, short and interesting for his audience: students.

In time, he perfectionated the way he interviewed people, edited the videos, and built a business model.

He knew his idea was going to be successful, but I don’t think he thought of such amplitude.

2. Pivot when it needed

Don’t get romanticized by a content type of distribution channel and hope you’ll hit the jackpot.

Michael started on YouTube and it took him 150 episodes with little engagement to realize it’s time to switch.

He started experimenting with different formats from audio to visuals, even tried newsletters on Substack to see what works for his business.

That’s how he won the lottery ticket and found that short-form videos work best for Our Future.

3. Always find a partner

It doesn’t matter if it’s directly involved with you in the business or it’s an accountant, two is always better than one.

When Michael sought help, he instantly thought of his friend Simran who helped him bring well-established clients like HubSpot or Shopify.

4. Dream big but keep doing what you are good at

Michael dreamt big and sold his company to Morning Brew for which he did a video interview hoping to get hired long before Our Future was born.

Even though the selling could have offered him a break or a chance to invest in something new, he did not give up on his mission.

He wanted to continue to work on his goal even if that meant working for a salary and depending on other people’s suggestions.

He does what he knows best, producing engaging and informative content hoping to redefine business media for Gen Z.

5. It’s never too early or too late to start creating content

No matter if you’re fresh out of college or need a new start, there is no better time than now to share your ideas or creativity to the world.

You might be afraid of what will happen or think of what others might say, but this should not stop you from trying.

Plus, you’ll never know where a small idea might take you.

Final Thoughts

I hope Michael’s success will inspire you to believe in yourself and what you can achieve.

You might say that Michael was lucky with TikTok emerging right when things went down for Our Future.

It’s not just luck. It’s putting yourself out there, trying, experimenting and then when the opportunity arises, seize the moment like Sikand did.

I hope to see more of Michael Sikand in the future, as he can easily become the next media mogul for Gen Z.