Mumbiker Nikhil: ‘The Trolls and the Hate Are Part of the Game’
The YouTuber opens up about his early years, his social media strategy and more
It was while flying as a purser with Qatar Airways between 2007 to 2013 that Nikhil Sharma started filming his travels. But storing the footage always posed a problem. “Although I had a hard disk, sometimes I would also upload stuff randomly to Facebook, [but] not anything and everything could go up because your family members are there,” he says. That’s when the doors to YouTube opened up.
Currently, Sharma’s YouTube channel Mumbiker Nikhil boasts 2.5 million subscribers. While he enjoys tremendous success today, things weren’t easy at the beginning. He says, “When you start anything new, people don’t accept it easily—they always take time to digest the content. So when I started, I knew there would be ups and downs,” says the 27-year-old. In 2014, it was after watching YouTuber Lilly Singh’s channel, IISuperwomanII that Sharma stumbled upon the phenomenon of individual YouTubers. He says, “I was like, ‘What can I do now?’ I said, ‘Okay people are doing this camera [GoPro] on a bike;’ I had a bike that time, so I started doing that randomly, and I got attention from a lot of people.”
One of Sharma’s first breakout videos was a travelogue of a solo ride on his motorcycle to Leh and Ladakh. “What worked was the raw part,” he says of the candid nature of the YouTube video. One comment even went on to compare him with American YouTuber Casey Neistat. Now with daily vlogs added to his plate, ask the YouTuber how he balances the constant stream of hate and love he receives and he says, “If someone trolls me, I know that I’m not doing anything wrong. In the beginning it used to affect me a lot but I understand that this is part of the game—the trolls, the hate, it’s a part of the game, a part of the whole journey. But it’s just a part though, it should not be the main focus.”
Sharma’s current social media strategy is simple—consistency. “The reason Facebook grew, Instagram grew, any social media grew is because you want to know about everything that is happening. So when you’re consistent, it helps because the audience wants to know what you’re doing.” Sharma also states that being a lifestyle vlogger, all he is really doing is recording his life. That means he has to be constantly in touch with his fans and can never be fake on camera. He says, “[For example] I have to be honest why drinking this water is good for you, why using this phone is good for you. I can’t be like, ‘Hey guys look at this 44 mega pixel ultra wide selfie camera; you need this in your life.’ No—I have to use it.”
Constantly on the move with a number of things lined up each and every day, Sharma functions with the help of a small team that align things for him. While Sharma shoots and edits videos himself, he has a person each for handling brand deals and his merchandise, Label MN. The YouTuber informs that all the people who help him run his channel today were fans/subscribers of his channel in the past. “My viewers make up my family,” he says.
As far as future goals are concerned, Sharma says, “I want to be healthy and fit. If everything goes well, then I see myself motivating others and do what I do best—making short films for YouTube and stuff, that’s it.”
Styled by Myntra
Photographed by Priyank Nandwana
Art Direction by Tanvi Shah
Fashion Editor Neelangana Vasudeva
Hair and Makeup by Jean-Claude Biguine India
Location Courtesy The Bar Stock Exchange, Juhu, Mumbai