Brent Underwood

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Brent Underwood
OccupationMarketer, Entrepreneur
Alma materFlorida State University
Columbia University
Notable works"Putting My Foot Down"

Brent Underwood is an American marketer and entrepreneur.[1][2][3][4] He is a partner at the creative advisory firm Brass Check and founder of the hostel HK Austin.[5][6][7]


After graduating from Columbia University, Underwood worked briefly for an investment bank in New York City.[8][9][10] After one month, he quit and backpacked across Central and South America.[11] Upon returning to New York, he founded a hostel in Brooklyn.[6][12] In December 2014 Underwood founded HK Austin, a hostel in Austin, Texas, with investors including Matthew Kepnes, after staying in 150 hostels across 30 countries.[8][13][14][15] For 2015, HK Austin was the highest rated hostel in the United States.[8][11][16]

Brass Check[edit]

Underwood later became a Partner in the creative advisory Brass Check, with Ryan Holiday, Jimmy Soni and Nils Parker,[9][5][9][17] where he worked with clients including Tony Robbins, John Grisham, Robert Greene, Tim Ferriss, Zeds Dead, Illangelo, and Young & Sick.[18][7][19] Underwood has written for Forbes, the New York Observer, Thrillist, Thought Catalog, and Huffington Post.[20][21][22]

Putting My Foot Down[edit]

In February 2016, Underwood published a photo of his foot on Amazon as a book titled Putting My Foot Down.[23][24][25] The purpose of the book was to show how few sales it took to become a "#1 Best Seller" on Amazon.[26][27] The resulting article in the New York Observer received attention from a variety of media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and from authors including Neil Gaiman and Nick Bilton.[5][28] Shortly after publication, Amazon removed the book citing quality issues.[5][29] Underwood was then offered a publishing contract from Thought Catalog to turn Putting My Foot Down into an expanded paperback version.[26] The paperback version received attention from Australia's breakfast television show Sunrise, VICE, Adweek, Business Insider, The Daily Dot, the Toronto Star, and others.[24][25][26][2][7] Amazon later said they were changing their algorithm because of the stunt.[4]

The Toronto Star recreated Underwood's stunt with their own fake book, which also reached #1 on Amazon's Best Seller list.[30]

Cerro Gordo[edit]

In July 2018, Underwood purchased the former mining town of Cerro Gordo for $1.4 million with a group of investors.[1][31] The purchase included over 360 acres and 22 structures.[32] Underwood stated plans to develop the town into an artist destination for tourists and group events, while maintaining the historic nature of the property.[33][34] The purchase was covered by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Fortune, Travel & Leisure, CNBC, and other media outlets.[1][32][31][35][36]


  1. ^ a b c Gomez, Melissa. "They Bought a Ghost Town for $1.4 Million. Now They Want to Revive It". New York Times.
  2. ^ a b Weller, Chris. "This guy became a 'best-selling author' in just 5 minutes — here's how he did it". Business Insider.
  3. ^ Sherman, Erik. "Here's How People Fake Being Best-Selling Authors". INC.
  4. ^ a b Warren, May. "How to become a bestselling author without writing a book". Toronto Star.
  5. ^ a b c d Holiday, Ryan. "How This Marketer Created a Fake Best Seller—And Got a Real Book Deal". New York Observer.
  6. ^ a b "I job-hopped to travel". CNN.
  7. ^ a b c Katzowitz, Josh. "Foot book is an Amazon bestseller—even though it doesn't exist". The Daily Dot.
  8. ^ a b c Schroeder, Jules. "Back To Basics: The Keep-It-Simple-Strategy For Starting A Winning Business". Forbes.
  9. ^ a b c Fletcher, Blake. "Creative Marketing Prodigy (with Brent Underwood)". Half Hour Intern.
  10. ^ Lock, Cheryl. "Co-op vs. Condo: Which One Is Right for You?".
  11. ^ a b Moore, Jason. "The Hostel Experience : An Interview With HK Austin Owner Brent Underwood". Zero To Travel.
  12. ^ STEWART, KAYLA. "'Nomadic Matt' Opens His First Hostel in East Austin". Patch.
  13. ^ Pell, Roxie. "Long-Term Travelers Reinvent Hostels By Opening Their Own". Frommers.
  14. ^ Seale, Shelley. "Travel fanatic opens doors to hip new hostel in the heart of East Austin". CultureMap.
  15. ^ Kepnes, Matt. "HK AUSTIN: THE BEST HOSTEL IN AUSTIN". Nomadic Matt.
  17. ^ Palmer, Alex. "The Indie Authors Guide to Organizing Author Events". Publisher's Weekly.
  18. ^ Rosenblatt, Seth. "Radiohead frontman takes stage with BitTorrent to test paywall". CNET.
  19. ^ "Man Uploads Picture of His Foot to Amazon, Immediately Becomes 'No. 1 Bestseller'". NextShark.
  20. ^ "Author Bio". Huffington Post.
  21. ^ "Author Bio". Thrillist.
  22. ^ Underwood, Brent. "Why Millennials (And Investors) Are Flocking To U.S. Hostels". Forbes.
  23. ^ Mahdawi, Arwa. "It's all about Me, Inc – how to get ahead in the age of egonomics". The Guardian.
  24. ^ a b "How to write a bestseller". Sunrise on 7.
  25. ^ a b HAUSEN, JOHANNES. "Hobby-author exposes how easy it storms the Amazon bestseller lists". VICE.
  26. ^ a b c Dilworth, Dianna. "Author of Fake Book Lands Book Deal".
  27. ^ Meadows, Chris. "Becoming an 'Amazon Bestseller' can be surprisingly simple". Teleread.
  28. ^ Underwood, Brent. "Behind the Scam: What Does It Take to Be a 'Best-Selling Author'? $3 and 5 Minutes". Observer.
  29. ^ "Man Reveals How Scam Artists Hack Amazon to Become 'Best Selling' Authors". NextShark.
  30. ^ Warren, May. "My life as a bestselling author". The Toronto Star.
  31. ^ a b FLEMMING, JACK. "California ghost town sells for $1.4 million; buyers plan to develop it as a tourist attraction". Los Angeles Times.
  32. ^ a b Vera, Amir. "Search California ghost town sells for $1.4 million". CNN.
  33. ^ Hoffower, Hillary. "A real-life Westworld in California sold for over $1 million to a group of Los Angeles investors who plan to use it for festivals and photoshoots". Business Insider.
  34. ^ Waters, Michael. "So You Bought A Ghost Town". The Outline.
  35. ^ Clifford, Catherine. "This Old West ghost town in California just sold for $1.4 million—take a look around". CNBC.
  36. ^ ROMANO, ANDREA. "This California Ghost Town Is Being Turned Into an Exciting New Vacation Destination". Travel & Leisure.

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