Jakob Welle Smogeli
- Jakob Welle-Smogeli, 21, started posting TikToks while recovering from an accident.
- Smogeli’s eye-catching videos of PowerPoint presentations went viral, and he monetized his platform.
- The content creator shares how he capitalized on viral TikTok fame and grew his presentation brand.
This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Jakob Welle-Smogeli, a 21-year-old college junior whose PowerPoint videos went viral on TikTok. His income has been verified by Insider. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I am a junior at Central Connecticut State University on a football scholarship. In the summer of 2022, I was in Norway, where I’m from, recovering from a broken jaw. I’d suddenly fainted and taken all the impact on my jaw. I was stuck in bed with nothing to do.
I started making TikToks about PowerPoint presentations from my bed. Six months later, I had 3.8 million TikTok followers on my faceless profile and have made over $150,000 from my brand.
I noticed a trend of Excel creators and videos going viral on TikTok
Last summer, laid up in bed, I was scrolling through TikTok and noticed the recent success of content creators making Microsoft Excel tutorials.
I thought that if people can get loads of views — and even make money — by creating content around boring software like Excel, I could replicate it with visually appealing PowerPoint presentations.
I hadn’t made crazy PowerPoints before, but I was vaguely aware the software was capable of much more than what the average person uses it for. I started making cool PowerPoints from bed and recorded them for TikTok and Reels.
I posted the first video in July 2022 under the handle “jacobppt” and it popped off right away. The post’s success didn’t feel real — it still doesn’t. The third TikTok I ever posted has 22 million views.
I never expected my videos to go viral
Creating the content was fun, and I had nothing better to do, so I kept posting. I had no idea that over the next few months, it would develop into a fully fledged business.
It was lucky that my first video was popular because I didn’t do any research before I started posting; I just created content randomly. In hindsight, my early videos were “good” short-form content, but I didn’t know they were good at the time.
Over the summer, I read more about what made short-form content perform well and started being more intentional with the presentations and videos I posted. I replicated video structures that I knew would go viral.
My intention at first wasn’t to create content to turn it into a business, but pretty quickly, I started thinking about how to turn the attention my videos were getting into profits.
Monetization wasn’t my main goal, but it quickly became an attractive option
I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I’ve worked on projects before while studying, but they failed pretty fast. My friend and I started a project helping Norwegian students improve their test scores. But Jacobppt was the first project I’d doubled down on.
I started considering selling templates for my PowerPoints in August 2022. Other entrepreneurs I followed on TikTok sold things on Gumroad, a platform for selling digital products.
Over two weeks in September 2022, I built out a package of templates to sell online. But I prioritized making content and starting my junior year at college over creating this product, so some days I’d only spend an hour building out my templates, and other days I’d work well into the night.
Seeing my PowerPoint templates generate real income was amazing
It was mid-September 2022 when I officially launched my templates. I was sitting with my close friend in my dorm. I set the templates live on Gumroad and immediately wanted to see if the link worked. I sent my friend $18, the price of the templates, on Venmo and my friend bought them on Gumroad. I refreshed my account and saw $17.20 — my first profit after a small fee.
We went crazy jumping up and down. It’s the best moment when you finally see something you’ve made can generate real income.
My sister, who is studying economics and business administration in Norway, helped me get the Jacobppt brand registered as a business there in October. We froze payments in Gumroad until we’d set up our business properly. She now keeps track of our company’s financial situation so we can make informed decisions on future moves.
In that first month, we made around $30,000. By November, I was making up to $50,000 a month in template sales.
After releasing my templates, I became more intentional with the way I created content. I really enjoy experimenting with different ways to convert traffic from my short-form content on Instagram and TikTok into website traffic on my Gumroad profile.
Between September 2022 and February 2023, I made over $150,000 from Jacobppt. I’ve made $127,000 in template sales and some brand-partnership deals on my TikTok.
I’m lucky enough to be young and still have the support of my family — so I can be open to taking risks
When I started making videos, I was focused on how many views I could get — trying to get 2 million or 5 million views. Now, I spend more time thinking about how to expand the Jacobppt brand in a healthy and fun way.
Companies also started contacting me about consulting on their internal PowerPoints and making their pitch decks more exciting.
I’ll still check if a video performs well, but I don’t let the views — or the income — affect me. My lifestyle is pretty much exactly the same. All the income goes straight back into the business in Norway.
I’ve been open to taking risks in starting this business because of my mindset. I’m still in school, I still have a loving family, and if a business venture goes to zero, or if it goes well, I’ll live pretty much the same life.
If Jacobppt ended tomorrow – like if the US were to ban TikTok – it would suck, but I would look at it as a good run. I see a future in consulting on corporate presentations. There’s definitely a market for pitch-deck consulting.
After college, I want to go into venture capital. I enjoy the process of building companies, so I want to pursue that passion in any form it takes.
My best advice for people starting businesses is a cliche, but it’s to start rather than do loads of research. I’m all for reading, but the thing that really helped me is to heavily focus on output, actually creating that Tiktok for Jacobppt, and posting that first video.