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Tom started Mandarin Monkey in 2016. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Mandarin Monkey?
It was 2016, Ula was 6 months pregnant with our daughter Kairi and we were living in the UK. We had savings enough for us to see us through until the baby was born and wanted to keep busy during that time. Ula’s passion has always been teaching, both English and Chinese and mine (Tom) had been in the creative side of things, particularly video production. We thought, why not put those two passions together and start a YouTube channel, and see if we could help some people before returning to ‘normal’ work.
Mandarin Monkey was born. When we started we actually wanted to create a live teaching platform for English speakers studying Chinese but after some bad web design company choices, we decided to drop the idea.
For any who wish to have some more details on what we used to create, we found a cheap (under $250 USD) camera from an electronics store and used Premiere Pro / After Effects to edit. We also used two cheap photographer lights with softboxes and a green screen.
We started to create content for YouTube on a fairly regular basis, two or three videos per week and got some good traction. Hitting a 100 subscriber milestone (harder than it sounds) after about a month. After we reached five hundred subscribers we had to take a break as our daughter was due and taking care of a newborn and content creation doesn’t work so well together.
Six months passed, and we got back on the content train. Producing lessons at a similar frequency to before, but this time with a bunch of pivoting in our content (something we are still doing to this day). In 2018, we started our podcast which currently gets roughly 5100 listens a month.
After our second child was born we decided (quite recently) to ramp things up. We sat down and discussed how we would like to take the channels forward and what our ultimate goals may be. After jotting down a business plan of sorts we started to create again but needed to find a way of earning extra money, so we started our Patreon in order to generate slightly more stable income.
Since we have been concentrating on the business side of things and slowly increasing the quality of our content, our patron numbers have started to grow. We haven’t reached our monetary goal yet and still need to work part-time but have made a commitment to continue to graft until we do.
Always add more value than is expected. Your customer will talk about you. Notable service deserves being noted.
Currently, we are trying to decide how much of our current income to reinvest in the business and on which side of it, be it better equipment, hiring help or promotion/advertising.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater