I'm From Cleveland has become a cultural juggernaut
- All of that has helped make I'm From Cleveland a local viral sensation the past few years.
Why it matters: The company, built by two Northeast Ohio natives, has used its substantial social media following to launch a marketing firm and work with local institutions like the Guardians and Mayor Justin Bibb.
The big picture: Since the start of 2020, IFC has grown from roughly 50,000 followers on Instagram to more than 275,000, while generating more than 120 million views across multiple social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
- The company has launched a clothing line and has had pieces worn by Cleveland celebrities like Travis Kelce, Machine Gun Kelly and Jake Paul.
Flashback: Eric Vajda and John Stursa founded I'm From Cleveland in 2010 as a YouTube channel and digital zine to promote local music acts.
The intrigue: With the music industry at a standstill during the pandemic, Vajda and Stursa rebranded IFC as a form of social media journalism, curating content that highlights Cleveland culture.
- That includes everything from a video of a deer swimming in Lake Erie and someone getting a tattoo of lawyer Tim Misny to street interviews asking residents what makes Cleveland unique.
What they're saying: "We're showcasing everyone from the city — people, businesses and sports teams — and it's all positive," Vajda says.
- "We also grew up on the Internet. So, we're using skills we honed at an early age to build a consistent brand where people know what they're going to get."
Between the lines: Vajda and Stursa have also taken advantage of the connections they've made throughout their respective careers.
Meanwhile, Stursa has a bachelor's degree in marketing from Walsh University and has held digital media roles with Lorain County, AT&T and luxury watch retailer Teddy Baldassarre.
State of play: Stursa recently joined Vajda's full-service marketing company Underdogs, which serves as an umbrella company to I'm From Cleveland.
- Underdogs has worked on projects for Bibb, the Guardians, and Machine Gun Kelly's Un/Dn Laqr nail polish line.
What's next: Vadja and Stursa say 2024 is all about monetizing I'm From Cleveland's visibility through Underdogs and promoting local businesses on social media.
- "Everything we do, we want to grow," Vadja says. "That means more merchandise, more collaborations and doubling down on content so we grow not just every year, but every month."
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