RYAN KAJI Joe Scarnici Getty Images

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Ryan Kaji

Influencer, YouTube

Ryan Kaji has shown the world that YouTube is the future of children’s entertainment.

Kaji is an 8-year-old boy who makes millions from his lucrative business empire across YouTube, TV, and the shelves of major retailers.

Kaji’s rise to fame started on YouTube in 2015, with videos of him unboxing toys. With the help of his business-savvy parents and Pocket.Watch, a studio that represents the family, Kaji has expanded beyond YouTube by starring in shows on Nickelodeon and Roku, and selling branded products in stores like Target and Walmart.

In 2019, Kaji’s YouTube channel was renamed “Ryan’s World,” and it’s an apt name for a franchise that has continued to spread into different businesses, earning more than $20 million yearly in advertising revenue from YouTube, and generating $200 million in retail sales from branded products, a spokesperson said.

As Kaji’s fame grew, his parents recognized the need to build a large team around him, such as the 30-person production company Sunlight Entertainment. This team develops live-action and animated content across nine multilingual YouTube channels.

“Before we started our company, we spoke with multiple creators and the biggest concern for a lot of them was burnout,” Kaji’s father, Shion, tells Business Insider. “When we started our own company, the first thing we did was make sure Ryan was at the center of the brand and we created a universe around him with animated characters that are friends of Ryan.

"With a strategy like that, we can diversify the content so that it doesn’t require Ryan’s participation as much. We felt like that really helped us avoid burnout, and balance out our personal life and work.”