Interviews

Interview: Das Mehdi Talks Twitch, Why Having A Strong Community Is So Important, & The Legendary Don CoCo

Working a full time job and broadcasting full time hours on Twitch can be tough. Somehow, DasMehdi pulls it off on a daily basis. We recently spoke to Mehdi about growing a channel on Twitch, the legendary DonCoco, and more. Check out the interview below.

Interview by: Chris
Photos by: DasMehdi

Streamer News: Please introduce yourself, and tell us how you came up with your Twitch name

Hi, I go by the alias dasmehdi. Hmm, I don’t recall just how long I have been going by that name.

Well way back when World of Warcraft was announced, there was a lot of hype behind it. I had never played an mmo up until then, so I decided to dive right in. This was a few months before the official release, during the open beta.
As with any game that has customization, I spent a great deal of time creating my character and coming up with a name. A few google searches later, I landed on “Mehdi”.


Streamer News: Thats cool, so it was an organic name you came up with and ended up sticking with for the past 11 years. Was it hard coming up as a new streamer on Twitch in the time frame you started? Was there anything that you think helped you progress faster?

It was very difficult. I was lucky enough to have a brother that had been streaming on Twitch for quite some time now, and him giving me an initial shout out helped quite a bit. However, as with most raids you see a spike and then everyone heads off to do something else. This is normal though, I think.

Learning how to stream is one of the most important lessons that are learned over time. At least, it did for me. Even then, I’m learning every day. How to engage my audience. How to keep the stream flowing, Etc.


Streamer News: But you managed to maintain and grow a very positive community in a short amount of time, with an excellent mod team. What advice can you give for new streamers on building that type of community? Also, do you feel you have one of the closest mod communities on Twitch?

Thank you, first of all! That means a lot, really :). First and foremost, having a consistent schedule is probably the most important thing to have. Your core audience is going to expect you to be on when you say you are, and if you are not, you are going to disappoint them. Imagine if the new season premiere for Rick of Morty was delayed a week, randomly without notice. You’re not going to hate the people behind the show, but it’s gonna suck.

I think you need to find yourself as a streamer. I think it’s easy to just look at what other people are doing and be like, oh I’ll do that too! That might work sometimes, but it’s going to drain you if you’re doing something out of your element.


Streamer News: Agreed. Especially with the amount of streamers on Twitch, it’s easy to bounce around and watch someone who is playing a similar game that you usually play.

Absolutely. In fact, it’s funny because early on there was an expectation that I was going to be playing ARMA3 RP games on stream all the time. A Lirik 2.0, so to speak. At some level, I felt pressured I had to do that. Doing RP, etc. and hey, I love it, but that’s not really what I wanted to do.


Streamer News: Yeah, there is already one Lirik, we do not need another (laughs).

Precisely, and honestly one is enough. I joke. He’s adorable, especially when he gets salty.

Going back to the community though. I think a lot of that was an evolution, as I learned how to engage with my audience more. Most importantly, I listened to them. At the end of the day, your core audience is coming to watch you, first and foremost.

It’s so important to listen to them. Not necessarily bow to their every desire, because that can never work. Rather, listen to their feedback, as they have the most valuable advice anyone is going to give you.


Streamer News: Right, because they are the ones who are watching and enjoying the content you are providing.

Totally.


Streamer News: You’ve mentioned on your streams you currently work a full time job. What is that like working a full time job while building a growing Twitch community.

It’s extremely difficult, especially since I work a job where I am effectively ‘on-call’ all the time. Most days, I’m racing to get home just to throw something down, so I can start on time. While trying to maintain relationships inside work and out.

That’s been the hardest struggle for me for sure, but the Twitch addiction helps.


Streamer News: What do you feel are the benefits of having a full time job and streaming?

Having a full time job helped me invest in the stream early on, that was definitely a  major plus. While knowing that, as much as I’d love to go full time some day, if things go south I have a backup plan.


Streamer News: For example, when you released your first Twitch Das Mehdi shirt, it was retailed for $15. Which was one of the cheapest prices we’ve ever seen a Twitch streamer price their merchandise. If you streamed full time would the price have been the same? Is the plan to make affordable products for your community?

dmteespring_2015sept

That was a thank you for my audience. I would not be here without them. So I wanted to give them something special. So I tried putting it as low as possible, so more people could get their hands on it.

Future shirts may be more, I don’t really know for sure. I even felt weird putting up a shirt so shortly after being partnered. I was certainly pressured into it, but it goes back to listening to my community. They wanted it, so I listened.


Streamer News: Which to us was an amazing thing. Not everyone can afford a $24-26 t-shirt which is the average price of a Twitch Teespring campaign.

I think affordability is important, and sometimes you have to sacrifice your own desires to give back to others.


Streamer News: With that mentality you’ll be full time very soon. And it sold well, over 300+ sold.

Yeah. About 350 I think, which is crazy, because the last 6 hours I sold about 150, which was insane. I wasn’t really advertising it up until the last day. Lesson learned.


Streamer News: Do you find it is hard to balance both, and if you had to choose which one would you rather do?

While I love doing both, full time streaming is my goal. Hopefully the struggle pays off in the end.I think I’m a ways away from that being a reality though.


Streamer News: How do you generate ideas for your streams? And how involved are your mods in the planning process?

It’s a mixed bag, especially when contrasting between where I was 6+ months ago to where I am now. One constant has been the creativity of the viewers. Some of them have had great ideas, and I took the chance to do what they asked me to do. This includes everything from giving blackjack a shot all the way to having them choose the next game I played through. My job came down to filtering those ideas and executing on them.

It’s become much more difficult at this point though, as the stakes have increased for trying bold new ideas. The backlog of ideas is there, some more ready than others. I just need to carefully measure consistency with volatility – if that makes sense.


Streamer News: On Saturdays you do Dev Saturdays and Sundays you do Indie Sundays, was this an original stream idea or a team effort?

DMinterview_2015sept_2

Both of those themes were a spontaneous ideas I came up with.

Indie Sundays started when I decided I wanted to just relax and try some new releases. Over time, that evolved into a new found passion for Indie and Early Access titles. So it became a preview stream. I also realized, I was the right person to be previewing these games given my software background.

Similarly, the Dev Saturdays first started when I was doing some boring youtube editing and decided to ‘go live.’

So I had a few dozen people watching me edit videos. That turned into a … hey, who wants to make a video game … and the rest is well, future evolution to what it is now.

But in both cases, what we do on those days. As with any other day, comes through viewer input. What do “you” the viewer want to see? Here are some things I want to do, pick one of the cards.


Streamer News: Yeah, you’ve built a very interactive website for your community (dasmehdi.tv) during your Dev Saturday stream. What future plans do you have for it? Will you continue to stream the future developments you plan to implement if any?

There are a ton of new features I would like to add, enough that I use a tool to track them all, so I don’t forget.

I have a very powerful IRC bot that I will be working on soon, that I want to use to supplement for the things I find missing in existing tools. There is a new incentive system I would like to work on, that gives more back to my subscribers. Additional feedback tools. I could go in depth, but it’s probably better to just say that every week there will be something new.

Best of all, the viewers always choose what the next feature they would like to see is. I will continue doing dev streams absolutely. It’s probably one of my favorite streams to do.


Streamer News: Yeah it’s cool to see you do them, for those who are interested in the topic or even want to learn. You’ve created ‘La Familia’ group on Twitch. What is La Familia truly about and how do you determine who gets selected to be apart of it?

It’s very difficult to get noticed on Twitch, and I went through that first hand. The reality is, it’s only going to get more difficult over time. As such, I realized I could make a bit of a difference by introducing a twitch group, where I invite people I feel have some great talent.


Streamer News: Yeah it’s cool to see you do them, for those who are interested in the topic or even want to learn. You’ve created ‘La Familia’ group on Twitch. What is La Familia truly about and how do you determine who gets selected to be apart of it?

Some of them are folks from my community, whom I’ve been watching for some time. While others are channels I happened upon during a raid, and I wanted to be a part of that community.It’s a place for our community to hang out together, at all hours … I think we have at least one stream online 24/7 at this point.


Streamer News: Will there be a future process where viewers can submit a form through your website or will you keep it the way you’ve been doing it?

I have a lot more planned to help grow it, but that’s still TBD.

There hasn’t been an application process yet. I’m not sure there will be. I’ve generally been telling my community. If you want to stream, then stream. Don’t think about the viewers. Just do it. If you’re active in the community already, people will come watch you. Eventually I will hear about it, and will see your stream.

In fact, that’s how the majority of people have been invited in. I think it’s the approach I will stick to for some time, as it’s very natural.


Streamer News: For sure, you have to put in the hard work before you get the pay off.

Exactly. The worst thing is when i get people spamming me for an invite.

It’s like dude, I can’t make your stream good. You have to do that first, you have the resources at your disposal, and the first one is to make friends in the community. Friends watch friends stream, and that’s the first step. Heck, that’s what twitch is largely about in my mind.

La Familia is just a platform to help get those who have already started, and an integral part of my community to get extra exposure. It’s also a hub for the community at large to hang out in. Over time I hope to evolve it into more, but that will come in small steps.


Streamer News: Yeah, I was hanging out in Skwazzle’s stream the other night and noticed you were very active in chat. That’s awesome that you monitor and take part in the La Familia group to ensure the right people represent the name well.

Absolutely, but in many cases it’s less about me monitoring and me having a chance to watch my friends stream too 🙂 It’s a ton of fun, and the more I watch the more I wish I could do it all day. That said, I do think it’s very important I invite the right people. The last thing I want to do is invite someone half heartedly, only to find out that they make the team look bad. Worse, they are generating drama.


Streamer News: Das of our Lives plays a big role on your stream, for those who aren’t familiar can you explain the series and how much of an impact it has made on your stream?

Well, I started playing blackjack about 4 months back after it was recommended to me. What originally started off to be a little bit of trolling turned into what can best be described as a soap opera. Eventually DasOfOurLives was coined and it evolved into more than just blackjack.


Streamer News: I’ve seen you interact with many of the hosts, have them on Skype chat, they all seem to know your persona Don Coco

DMinterview_2015sept_1

It became a big part of the stream, and generated a new audience. However, with new content comes difficulties. For example, some people really don’t like blackjack, while others love it. So it did cause some rifts, and still does. I’m often asked to skip it all together, but at the same time that would mean disappointing another segment of viewers. I think it’s a general issue when it comes to variety streaming.

In addition to that, I somehow managed to turn $50 into $300, and I kept winning. Eventually into a few thousand, and it generated hype around how far people thought I might be able to go.

Let alone, when some of my favorite streamers that I’ve been watching for a long time jokingly call me Don Coco. In a sense, it made me think to myself, hey maybe I’m a real streamer now.


Streamer News: Yeah, we would  say you are a well established streamer. Especially over the past few months your growth has been spectacular.

Though, I hope that one day I’m known less about blackjack and more about my focus on Indie games and the development streams. That’s where my real passion lies 🙂


Streamer News: Above you mentioned it being tough because some of the viewers want to watch blackjack and some do not. Do you ever see yourself completely moving away from it? Or Does Mary have your heart? (laughs)

Haha, in time, I’m sure I will. I’m not sure when that will be though. A lot of it will have to come from a gut feeling, then a lot of it coming from what my viewers say. Disseminating between the two is difficult though. Ultimately, only time will tell and how I feel about playing blackjack. As of right now, I really enjoy the thrill, I’ve created memorable bonds with the dealers, as have many of the viewers.


Streamer News: We love the DasOfOurLives images your community makes for you that you Retweet on Twitter, which are your personal favorite? Or do you just love them as a whole.

I can’t really pick any in particular, there are just so many good ones. It’s great to see the talent people have out there, and I simply love when I see new ones generated. It’s just a ton of fun 🙂


Streamer News: Yeah it’s great to see how interactive your community is. They pretty much make a new DasOfOurLives image every day you stream.

I can’t really pick any in particular, there are just so many good ones. It’s great to see the talent people have out there, and I simply love when I see new ones generated. It’s just a ton of fun 🙂


Streamer News: What was it like going to your first PAX as a streamer? What do you look forward to at TwitchCon?

PAX was fantastic, and I really wish I had gone there more often. I think my favorite part was definitely meeting others from the twitch community.

At TwitchCon, I hope to spend a lot of time with some of my viewers who are heading out there. I’m also excited to meet other streamers, those whom I interact with often, and even some others I haven’t yet discovered. Perhaps talk about what it is that we do, exchange ideas, network, etc. We’re all so busy streaming, it’s hard to find time, let alone have a good means to just sit back and talk to someone who does what you do. In many ways, it’s working at a big company but rarely ever having a chance to talk to them in person. There are so many I met at PAX, and just to be able to see them again has me really excited.


Streamer News: Do you plan on bringing/giving any limited edition dasMehdi products away to the viewers you do get to see?

I have some ideas, speaking of which I need to get that sorted out ASAP. TwitchCon is not very far away at this point.


Streamer News: Yeah, a little over a month and it is here? In closing, are there any lessons you have learned that you can give advice to up and coming streamers that you have encountered so far?

Your community is the most important thing when it comes to streaming, at least that has been my experience. It’s not about the viewer counts. It’s about the dedication you have to your audience, and the new friends you’re going to be making.

It’s a tough road, and not everyone can make it. That’s the reality of the matter. However, persistence is important if you truly want to make something of it.


About the author

Chris

Chris

Founder @StreamerNews @StreamerPins. I like video games, sneakers and apparel/accessory production.