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Philipp Dettmer

Philipp Dettmer is the founder and CEO of Kurzgesagt.

Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell is the most popular science YouTube channel with 19M subscribers.

Philipp is also the head writer at Kurzgesagt.


Philipp Dettmer was born on 21 January 1986 in Munich, Germany.

In 2002, at 15, he dropped out of high school.

Philipp was bad at school and was only interested in doing drugs and playing video games.

But an old history teacher inspired him to study and helped him to get a high school degree in 2006.

In 2007, Philipp completed his German Civilian Service and later, he studied for a history degree.

In 2009, he joined Munich University of Applied Sciences in Munich to study for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Communications Design and he graduated in 2013.

In June 2010, Philipp founded Philipp Dettmer Information Design in Munich and this lasted until September 2013.

The disillusionment-

While studying at university, Philipp was focused on infographics and used to design them and wanted to make a career in it.

But later, he realised that no matter how attractive the infographics are, people don’t spend enough time with them and the infographics don’t help people understand much.

This disillusionment made Philipp depressed.

Getting attracted towards YouTube & animation-

Around that time in 2010 and 2011, Philipp observed the birth of many science and educational YouTube channels like CGP Grey, Veritasium, minutephysics, etc.

He started watching the videos of all these YouTube channels for entertainment.

Then, Philipp came across the CrashCourse YouTube channel run by the brothers, Hank & John Green.

He was amazed by their novel concept of animation videos and realised that those videos were very effective and engaging.

Philipp was also attracted towards the script writing, explanation process and writings of John Green.

So, he too decided to produce an animation video.

During his final year at university, Philipp decided to make an explainer video for his bachelor thesis but never in his life before he has done animation or written a script and also, he wasn’t a good illustrator.

Only after struggling for three months, he was able to make an animation video.

Starting Kurzgesagt YouTube channel-

After finishing his college, Philipp wanted to upload his animation video onto the internet and so he decided to create a YouTube channel and upload his video onto it.

So, he started his YouTube channel by the name Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell on 10 July 2013. Kurzgesagt in German means in short or in a nutshell.

Philipp’s first video titled- “How Evolution works” initially didn’t gain any traction as it received only a thousand views in a few days.

During that time, apart from working on his YouTube channel, he was also working as a freelancer and was working to get his book published.

Soon as Philipp didn’t have any clients for working as a freelancer and as he was interested in the video production process, he along with one of his friends decided to produce a couple of videos for his YouTube channel.

From June 2010 to September 2015, he worked as an independent information designer.

Philipp’s second video titled- “The Solar System — our home in space” took three months to produce and was a lot of work but he loved the process.

The video was published on 22 August 2013 and received around 8000 views after a few days and this made him very happy.

Becoming viral-

As Philipp had no plans of becoming a full-time YouTuber, he wanted to produce a last video, that is, the third video for his YouTube channel and quit.

So, he published the third video of his YouTube channel titled- “Fracking explained: opportunity or danger” on 3 September 2013.

Interestingly, this video became viral and got a million views in just a couple of days and also got on the front page of Reddit.

Thanks to the success of this video, Philipp received a lot of feedback and also, many people requested him to produce similar videos and so, he decided to continue producing videos for his YouTube channel.

At that time, as he didn’t want to work in an agency, he wanted to become a full-time YouTuber.

Many struggles-

In the initial couple of years, Philipp wasn’t able to make a living with his YouTube channel and was losing money with every video he made.

But the silver lining was that he was able to get freelance projects due to his videos and with the money he earned by doing freelance projects, he used to pay his YouTube collaborators and if some money was left, he used to pay himself.

In the first couple of years as Philipp was determined to make his YouTube channel a sustainable business, he used to work for long hours, like 70-80 hours a week in a shared office space along with his friends.

Eventually, his YouTube channel sustained itself and grew very big.

As of August 2022, Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell YouTube channel has 19M subscribers and has 486K followers on Instagram and 438.6K Followers on Twitter.

A multilingual approach-

Apart from his main English channel, Philipp has eight other YouTube channels in different languages and they are as follows-

  • Dinge Erklärt – Kurzgesagt (German channel).
  • En Pocas Palabras – Kurzgesagt (Spanish channel).
  • Tout Simplement – Kurzgesagt (French channel).
  • आसान शब्दों में — Kurzgesagt (Hindi channel).
  • 世界をわかりやすく – Kurzgesagt (Japanese channel).
  • Em Poucas Palavras – Kurzgesagt (Portuguese channel).
  • بكل بساطة – Kurzgesagt (Arabic channel).
  • 한눈에 보는 세상 – Kurzgesagt (Korean channel).

Starting his company-

In 2015, Philipp founded his company, Kurzgesagt.

He founded this company mainly to hire employees to expand his operations.

Philip Laibacher is the first employee of Kurzgesagt and as of August 2022, he still works here as a Chief Creative Officer.

As of 2022, Kurzgesagt has more than 50 employees, including a few PhDs in the research team.

Many experts and journalists also contribute to every single Kurzgesagt video.

Initially, apart from playing many roles at Kurzgesagt, Philipp used to also work as an illustrator but in 2017, he stopped working as an illustrator as he had many talented illustrators in his team.

Now, he focuses on the writing, editing process of his YouTube channel, networking and attending conferences.

Kurzgesagt also has an online shop and also accepts donations through Patreon.

Kurzgesagt also has an app “Universe in a Nutshell”.

Kurzgesagt is based in Munich, Germany.

Book & award-

On 2 November 2021, Philipp published Immune – A Journey Into the Mysterious System that Keeps You Alive book and this book was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.

Since the time he was studying at the university, he was interested in immunity and the immune system and has been researching it and finally, he wrote a book on it.

Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) chose Kurzgesagt for the 2020 Streamy Awards.

MKBHD admired the research, storytelling and animation processes of Kurzgesagt.

Kurzgesagt won the Streamy Award in the science or education category.

Personal life-

At 32, Philipp was diagnosed with cancer but later, he recovered from it.

He has a personal website.

So, how are you inspired by the success story of Philipp Dettmer?

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