From TikTok and Triller to the NHL and a new sports agency, Josh Richards is determined to make it big as the world’s first influencer billionaire.
19-year-old Josh Richards already has a massive social media following, has launched an energy drink brand, bought a stake in the brand Sillybandz, and that’s just a small sample of what the young entrepreneur has been up to over the years.
He’s now making a name for himself in the sports and business world.
Setting his Sights on Sports
Richards, a longtime Toronto Maple Leafs fan, was recently named as a special adviser to the NHL as a “voice of the fans,” to help grow the game.
“With my love for hockey, I decided to leverage my social following to help the league grow the sport,” he said. “I truly want to help give a voice to the fans for a game that means so much to so many.”
The partnership will have Richards making appearances at key NHL events, while also helping the league with its creative efforts.
“I have always wanted to use my platform to educate and inspire, and I look forward to sharing my passion for hockey with millions,” Richards said when the league announced the partnership.
But hockey isn’t the only sport Richards has his eye on.
Earlier this year, he became Co-Advisor & Creative Director to the Fan Controlled Football League, and was also a participant in Major League Baseball’s 2021 All-Star Celebrity Softball Game.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Richards is also teaming up with fellow TikTokker Griffin Johnson to form a new agency called CrossCheck Sports, led by NBA agent Zachary Charles. The agency will work with NBA basketball players at its outset, negotiating contracts and helping them with their branding and marketing.
“Basketball, along with hockey, has always been a love of mine, and signing a first-round draft pick and helping make his dreams come true is something I would love to make a reality, especially in the near term,” Richards told Boardroom. “At CrossCheck Sports, we are currently focusing full force on signing basketball players, but eventually, we plan to branch out to other sports as well. The sky is the limit.”
And that’s just what Richards has planned for the Sports arena.
The Richards Brand Gets Richer
Josh Richards’ brand has spiderwebbed over the last few years beyond the level of a social media influencer. The kid is into everything, it seems.
And when asked why he wants to do so much at such a young age, Richards told Rich Kleiman on Boardroom’s “Out of Office” podcast earlier this month he’s always been this way.
From being a 10-year-old kid with a lemonade stand to setting up car washes, to landscaping, to walking dogs and selling custom hockey t-shirts, it’s safe to say Richards has been a grinder his whole life.
“I just feel like with the opportunity I have, if I’m not giving 100% and putting 100% into everything, then like I’m kind of wasting my shot,” he told Kleiman.
Richards rose to prominence through the app Musically, beginning at age 14, before the app was later renamed TikTok.
Often posting videos including dancing, lip-syncing, and video skits, the influencer has garnered quite the following on social media.
In addition to his impressive numbers on social media, Richards has been making moves throughout the media world. Here’s a small sample of where he’s been and what he’s up to these days:
- Original member of Sway House, a creative collective of TikTok stars who all lived in a house in Los Angeles.
- Chief Strategy Officer at Triller and an investor in the company
- Co-founder of TalentX Entertainment. He subsequently signed a recording contract with Warner Records and became the first artist to sign with TalentX in July 2020.
- Ranked No. 5 on Forbes’ “TikTok’s 7 Highest-Earning Stars” report in 2020.
- Earned $1.5 million in 2019 from his numerous sponsorship deals, making him the fifth-highest-earning TikTok personality
- Joined forces with Barstool Sports to launch the BFF’s podcast, the most popular new podcast of 2021
Richards also launched a production company called CrossCheck Studios alongside Mark Wahlberg and his Unrealistic Ideas production company — focusing on Gen Z content creators across all sectors of entertainment with an eye on becoming the “go-to production company for the next generation” and “internet-native creatives.”
Within the new entity, Richards will serve as CEO. Michael Gruen, Richards’ business partner, takes the title of president.
Richards told Kleiman that the collaboration was a dream come true since he has always looked up to Wahlberg.
“I’ve always looked up to him just because of how versatile he is. He was that pretty boy, which a lot of people try to throw me in that category as well from TikTok,” he said. “‘Oh, you’re the kid that dances with his shirt off.’ It’s funny to make jokes about, but now I’m moving to the entrepreneurial world like Mark moved into. He’s done so many things to expand that portfolio of his and I find that really respectable.”
One of the most ambitious projects Richards has been involved in, however, isn’t a strictly digital venture: He launched his own venture capital fund.
A $15 million fund that he formed with other social media stars and partners, Animal Capital aims to be the first Gen Z-focused venture capital fund with digital creator megastars at the founder level. The effort will focus on consumer and financial technology, health and wellness, and media, and earned Richards recognition from Business Insider as one of the top up-and-coming figures in VC.
From building his own personal brand to branching out into sports, business, and a growing list of out-of-the-box endeavors, Richards isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.