Every generation has its entrepreneurs and ambitious, young go-getters, but in this age of digital-everything, can being young and hyper in-touch really trump the value of solid experience? One study found millennials are twice as likely than their counterparts to start their own business in the next year, meaning there are lots of entrants trying to break into the market.
Strategy found a few of savvy millennials (a term Statistics Canada deems to refer to those born between 1981 and 2000) who nixed the industry’s ladder-climbing structure in favour of starting their own agencies. And while it might be experience they lack at the outset, they’re proving their worth in other ways.
Seventeen-year-old David Bell (pictured below, right) might have friends looking forward to high school graduation, but this entrepreneur has more on his mind than grades. Since 2012, Bell and his partner Christian Lunny (pictured below, left) have been running Winnipeg-based social media agency Dash, which has grown from a couple of teenagers and their laptops to a team of 10 people, the oldest of whom is only 28.
After spending about a year to a year-and-a-half building up their social media and storytelling abilities, the pair began to take their business seriously, acquiring an office space in Winnipeg’s Exchange District a year ago and rebranding to Dash this past January. The agency’s specialties include developing content for social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, and its client roster includes Winnipeg Technical College and the Information and Communication Technologies Association Manitoba (ICTAM), for which it recently worked on a customized selfie app for the brand’s Innovators event.
And while Bell and Lunny’s ages rarely come up in meetings, it can often have a positive effect, with clients thinking “they’ll know how to market this properly and our brand will be cool in essence,” Bell says.
As such, the challenge for the pair in the beginning was not their age, but more so their offering – bringing clients on board with their contemporary approach to advertising.
“Traditional advertising is still huge within Western Canada, so convincing people to divvy up a large portion of their budget to dedicate it towards social media is tough for some people,” says Bell.
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