We talk youth communications, managing big teams and international expansion plans with Jamie White of Youth Nation, winner of the ‘Best Established Business with New Add On’ Category for Dublin City in the IBYE competition.
Youth Nation (www.youthnation.com
) interact with, and entertain, a consistently growing audience through their websites (www.collegetimes.com and www.teentimes.com
) and at on-the-ground events. This work enables Youth Nation to constantly refine their expertise, grow their reach and develop their overall market insight that they then apply to clients and their youth focussed communication needs.
Youth Nation has been in existence for over eight years now, how did the business develop and what do you put its success down to?
The Youth Nation concept started in 2006 when we began hosting events that we, as students at the time, wanted ourselves. We operated naturally and authentically and soon branched out into youth-focused marketing, promotions and PR on behalf of clients, representing brands, businesses and celebrities. We then went on to host music concerts with some of the leading DJs in the world and built websites that talked to hundreds of thousands of youths daily. We had a lot of fun learning, growing fast and achieving some really notable success.
You currently have nearly 30 full-time staff, how have you managed the growth of the company?
I firmly believe a business’ growth is dependent on the team within. That’s so true in our case; everyone is constantly up-skilling, constantly growing, constantly pushing their standards and supporting those around them. This is what’s really supporting our fast growth. That and our business being cool of course!
As you and your business get older, your target market remains the same age, how have you managed to stay relevant to your audience?
Really through two things: the first being wholly and totally dictated to by our market, i.e. we post the content our audience wants, host the events they want and based on this, refine our communications. The second is that we hire really young, really outstanding individuals constantly.
What are your future plans for Youth Nation?
We've big plans for ourselves. We're being inspired by the likes of Elite Daily, Vice, The Chive and believe it or not, WWE. We're pushing ourselves out to a worldly audience, hopefully opening offices in London and Boston in 2015 and constantly pushing our standards higher and higher so we're never happy. Ultimately, we want to be world leaders in both youth communications and entertainment.
How did you get on at the IBYE Entrepreneurs’ Bootcamp?
The IBYE Bootcamp was brilliant. We had some great talks and lessons but the leading part of it for me was the other people there; such unbelievably outstanding characters and business people and all with such interesting stories and personalities. For me it was an outstanding opportunity to be there and I'd love to do it again.
What does winning this IBYE award mean for Youth Nation?
The recognition of our work was the most complimentary thing that’s come from winning the ‘Best Established Business’ category. For our whole workforce, our extended friends and families, it’s a nice sign of confirmation that we're heading in the right direction. It’s lifted the overall working atmosphere and environment and for me, that’s worth so much more than anything else.
How has the Local Enterprise Office Dublin City helped your business so far?
I really feel they've made me spend a lot of time on how my business is presented, how it looks and translates to an onlooker. That’s something we'd previously thought we were too busy to be doing but now having done the work we're really recognising the real value of it. For that, I'm seriously grateful to the Local Enterprise Office in Dublin City.
What business person (at home or abroad) do you admire most and why?
My uncle, Mark Roden, of Ding. He's an outstanding businessman and an even better family man, balancing that is truly unique and ultimately what I most admire.
What advice would you give anyone under 30 who is thinking of starting their own business?
I love the enterprise focus in Ireland right now but I think people jump in to things too quickly. They don't wholly appreciate what’s involved, what’s expected and how tough things really are. I'd strongly suggest learning under someone, a role model first. Learn at their expense rather than your own and build up your insight and perspective first. That’s what I'd wished for myself anyway and I wish had been given that advice.
About the #IBYE Competition
Launched by the Government earlier this year, Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition is an integral part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2014 and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through the 31 Local Enterprise Offices around the country. Find out more at www.ibye.ie or by searching #ibye on social media.
Best of luck to Youth Nation in the rest of this year’s #IBYE competition