Childhood & Early Life
Gary Vaynerchuk was born on November 14, 1975, in Babruysk, Soviet Union, which came to be known as Belarus after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. He was one of the three children in the family and grew up with a brother and a sister.
After spending the first three years of his life in Babruysk, Gary moved to the US with his family. His father was a businessman, and the extended family settled in a studio apartment in Queens, New York City.
His father started working at a liquor store in New Jersey. The store belonged to one of their relatives. He took his children with him to live in Edison, New Jersey. Gary always had an entrepreneurial mindset, and he put up a lemonade stand to earn extra income while attending school.
Even before growing into an adult, he had always been interested in making money. In his teens, he picked up flowers from his neighbor’s gardens and sold them in the streets. This was his first-ever business venture. His natural charm helped his business grow. The lemonade stall that he put up as a teenager quickly grew into a franchise, and he began managing a lot of lemonade stands in the city.
He also traded in baseball cards and made thousands of dollars every week. His father had taken full control of the liquor shop by then and soon asked Gary to join his business. Gary could not reject the proposal, and all his independent activities soon came to a halt.
Meanwhile, he completed high school from ‘North Hunterdon High School.’ He then enrolled at ‘Mount Ida College’ located in Newton, Massachusetts.
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Gary worked at his father’s liquor shop throughout his high-school and college years. He was given the control of their store, ‘Shopper’s Discount Liquors,’ located in Springfield, New Jersey. However, Gary knew that e-commerce was a fast-growing industry and he thus wanted to reap the benefits from it. This led to the idea that transformed his father’s business.
Gary started an online store and renamed it ‘Wine Library.’ For further promotions, he also started a ‘YouTube’ channel named ‘Wine Library TV,’ a daily webcast where he discussed different types of wines.
Rebranded in the mid-2000s, the family business grew by leaps and bounds. While it was valued at $3 million earlier, by 2005, the business reached a valuation of $60 million.
In 2006, he also started a regular video blog on ‘YouTube’ called ‘Wine Library TV,’ which featured Gary as he gave wine reviews, tasted various types of wines, and offered advices. In 2011, the show completed 1000 episodes. It was then replaced with a daily podcast titled ‘The Daily Grape.’ It is believed that this video podcast series played a huge role in increasing the popularity of Gary’s wine business.
Thrilled with the success of this venture, Gary realized that online marketing was the way to follow. In 2009, he laid the foundation of ‘VaynerMedia,’ in partnership with his younger brother, AJ. The company was initially a low-capital venture but soon became a multi-million-dollar enterprise.
‘VaynerMedia’ provides services related to paid media, media strategies, influencer marketing, e-commerce strategies, personal branding, and SMB marketing. It essentially covers all the aspects of online marketing. With clients such as ‘PepsiCo,’ ‘General Electric,’ and ‘Johnson & Johnson,’ the company has established itself as one of the top international players in the sector.
Within a few years of its foundation, the company made it to the list of ‘AdAge’s A-list agencies in 2015. The following year, the company grew tremendously, with an annual gross revenue of $100 million and 600 employees. The company also bagged a partnership with ‘Vimeo’ to connect filmmakers and brands for online content.
Gary took over a company named ‘PureWow’ in 2017 and renamed it ‘The Gallery.’ A new company was thus formed after adding several elements to ‘PureWow.’
Apart from running his own enterprises, Gary has acted as an angel investor for dozens of start-ups and well-established companies. Some of the major companies that he has invested in are ‘Facebook,’ ‘Venmo,’ and ‘Twitter.’ ‘Entrepreneur,’ a reputed American magazine, estimated Gary’s net worth in 2017 to be $160 million.
A few other ventures credited to Gary are ‘VaynerRSE,’ ‘BRaVe Ventures,’ and ‘VaynerSports.’
Gary has also shown an active interest in mass media. He appeared on the TV show ‘Planet of the Apps’ in 2017. The series focused on young app developers, as they presented their ideas to judges. Gary was one of the recurring members of the cast, who judged and guided the participants.
In 2014, Gary launched a ‘YouTube’ series called ‘The #AskGaryVee Show.’ Gary did not hire professionals to create the show and used his in-house team instead. The questions were taken from ‘Instagram’ and ‘Twitter,’ and Gary answered them.
In 2015, Gary started a regular video-documentary series called ‘DailyVee.’ The series portrayed Gary’s life as a businessman, as he recorded himself live, interviewed others, and broadcast investor meetings. Gary wanted to make his company’s workings as transparent to the general public as he could, and the show helped him do that.
Gary has also written six books until now. In 2009, he signed a deal with ‘HarperStudio’ for writing 10 books. His first book, ‘Crush it! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion,’ became a bestseller. The remaining five books, which were also based on entrepreneurship, became moderately successful.