In October 2013, Forward under 40 honoree Ben Relles '97, head of programming strategy at YouTube, shared with alumni, students and the community the surprising keys to finding a career you love, and how he leveraged his UW-Madison degree, the right mentors and his own experiences to discover how to put his passions to work.
What is the Wisconsin Rewind Lecture?
For 102 years, the tradition of Homecoming has been bringing UW alumni back to campus for a weekend filled with Badger spirit. To add to the celebration, Homecoming is partnering with the Distinguished Lecture Series to host a free lecture for students and the community given by an esteemed alumnus or alumna.
More about Ben Relles ’97
At the UW, Relles earned a degree in journalism and a certificate in business administration. While still a UW senior in 1997, he started his first company, MarketVision, which focused on direct and online marketing. The company grew for four consecutive years.
In 2007, Relles decided to embark on a second business venture. Following up on an idea he was passionate about, he invested his own money to start a company in a space he believed was about to explode — online video.
And explode it did. Known as Barely Political, Relles’s online network took off shortly after its debut of the now-famous political satire “I Got a Crush ... on Obama” (popularly known as “Obama Girl”). Barely Political has been featured on CNN, NBC, ABC and other cable news outlets, while the network’s videos have been viewed more than 1.6 billion times, making Barely Political one of YouTube’s most-watched channels.
With his growing fan base, Relles caught the attention of YouTube professionals.
Today, he lives in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, where he’s head of programming strategy at YouTube. Relles was named a 2013 Forward under 40 Award recipient for instilling his Wisconsin values as a leader and innovator of online video and digital media.