What started as a hobby making YouTube videos, has quickly become a public source for information on anything Car Culture, Video Production, and Photography Services. I had so many dreams and aspirations back in April of 2017 for my YouTube channel, little did I know what it would snowball into.
Like any content creator, the YouTube channel we started, “we” meaning myself and my girlfriend Zan, was just a cool I idea that we had come up with, because I was a big gearhead from as far back as I could remember, and Zan had done a lot of work in corporate photography and video editing. (At this point in my story, take a second to visit our YouTube channel and watch our first video, “DIY Car Wash Under $5, WARNING Cringe Factor!)
Zan had already owned a few of the tools we needed to start up, the camera, a light, sound recorder, and a few other bits and pieces. I’ll be honest, I was apprehensive. I mean, I’m definitely a “people’s person”, but this was something totally different. How am I going to stand in front of the camera and talk to you guys about cars? So little to say, it took a little while to get the ball rolling.
Now let’s fast forward a year, it’s now 2018. I still work a dead-end job that I absolutely hate, and Zan is going to school. But we are still finding ways to come up with creative content for our channel. At this point, I think we had already started social media content on Facebook and Instagram. We were attending all the car shows we could, and slowly modifying our 2013 Ford Fusion.
Naturally, as time progressed, we had made a lot of friends with modified cars. And so, “Driving Caffeinated” was born! An interview-based series on the YouTube channel that would give our viewers an in depth look into other modified cars and their drivers. I love this series, mainly because I taught me a lot about the cars, and what motivated the owners.
Following this season in our life, we really began to ramp up the quality of content. Buying a new 4K camera, premium editing software, music subscription services, more lights, and the list goes on. I think this was a big turning point in my personal life, I had really started to pick up on the editing side, before this point Zan would do about 99% of the videos we uploaded. I really started to enjoy what I was doing.
We ended up traveling a lot to Southeast Asia, as Zan was from Singapore. And so, it really began to open my way of thinking. If we were going to do this content creation “thing” it would have to generate a continuous income. So that I could leave my job and take this on more full-time. And not just reach 1000 subscribers on YouTube to monetize the channel, and call it done. I’m talking about a real income, multiple streams, multiple avenues, social media, website, EVERYTHING!
And so it began, my quest to convert Gear Oil Cafe into a full-fledged business. We partnered with lots of local businesses, did partnered content series, attended more shows, found international sponsorships for our Fusion build, and on and on. At this point the Fusion build was looking better and better, I was skilled enough to edit most of the videos we put out, but Zan was always there to make sure it was up to standard.
It was something that I was really enjoying, so much so, that I started getting requests from other Canadians and Singaporeans to attend events in other counties, do co-partnership events, and even open up a lounge above a local automotive shop and produce content full-time. This was huge for us, and it really began to expand into, not just creating content, but being able to offer the public professional photography and video production services.
Moving into 2019, me and Zan headed back to Asia. Starting with a two-week trip to Osaka Japan, followed by a five-month trip to Singapore. Talk about getting your mind blown! I had already been to Asia a few times already, but his move for us was to really get to know the local car community in a whole different way. Really dive into what made Singaporeans so crazy about cars, that they would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to acquire them! (Take a second to see the dollar conversion between Canada and Singapore, it the same LOL).
Because of how their system works, people would end up paying upwards of $70,000 for a five-year-old Honda Civic, and more than $100,000 for a Ford Fusion with a 1.0L engine. Don’t get me started on the prices on supercars, just a taste, the 2019 Lamborghini Huracan would run you up approximately 1.2 MILLION DOLLARS! Same car in Canada, $250,000. Talk about sticker shock! I mean, what would people drive people (pun intended) to spend ANY MONEY on modifying their car after dropping your lifesavings just to own it?
That’s what I needed to learn! And then take it back home to Canada. If people were willing to drop $50,000 on their $100,000 Ford Focus in Singapore, surly they were willing to do it anywhere. Come May of 2020, I had returned home to Cochrane Alberta. I was dead set on applying everything I learned in that five and a half months. And I did just that, I had a line up of clients that had heard about us through the partnerships we had made, and they all wanted promotional videos done for their business.
It was such a blessing in my life, to have built this culture around Gear Oil Cafe, staying true to my values, and coming to an amazing result, I have so many people to thank! Now we have content coming out of multiple platforms, an amazing website where people can buy merch, request services, and check out all the latest content.
To top the cake, I had made the decision back in November of 2020 to expand on my knowledge of social media and online marketing, and go back to school! It’s been an amazing experience so far, and I am learning new techniques every day. In hopes that I will be able to serve my Gear Oil Cafe family better!
With Love, your friends,
Jon Dale & Zan Tang
Founders & Content Creators
Gear Oil Cafe
Do What Moves You !