As a premier destination for the latest and hippest goings on in the city, NotableTV.com is the place to be to enjoy the best urban life has to offer. Featuring streaming video content of Toronto’s exclusive events, places and people, NotableTV connects young professionals to all that is noteworthy and prominent in their city.
Leading the helm at NotableTV is young entrepreneur Julian Brass, who was able to turn a teenage passion into a business and career that matched his interests. His experiences as a young entrepreneur are shared here and provide a glimpse into how he to got started with his own company.
Q. Why did you choose to start Notable TV?
A. We grew organically, in that I hosted my first event when I was 14 years old. That allowed me to create an audience and a group of loyalists in the city of Toronto that trusted where I said to go or what I said to do.
From that, I sort of developed a personal brand that I carried all the way through high school, university, and then . . . when I moved to Miami and California. That’s when I really noticed there was a need for this type of content, especially in Canada, because when I visited back home I noticed that there was something missing in the market for young professionals and scenesters on what really was going on.
NotableTV was formally launched earlier this year to offer young professionals and scenesters a definitive destination for all things that are notable in their world.
Q. What kind of help did you receive along the way in terms of advice and mentorship?
A. I have always made it a priority of mine to constantly seek advice. Whether it’s from someone I’ve met at an event, people that have become colleagues, or family and friends (if they have solid business advice). I have always made it my business to reach out to people who know more than me, or maybe have knowledge in something that I have not done and are willing to give advice. I think it is a great way to learn and grow beyond what you may have experienced by yourself.
Q. What was the biggest obstacle you had while starting Notable TV, and how did you overcome it?
A. The biggest obstacle was in giving up a really great salary and lifestyle in order to go for the dream that I have. At the time, I had just turned 25 and was living three blocks from a beach in San Francisco. I took a look in the mirror and asked myself, “By the time I’m 30 years old, if I go ahead right now and take a shot at starting my own business and creating my own dream, will I be successful?”
There was no doubt in my mind that if I was given five years, I would make this successful. So I decided that as much as I love living by the beach, and as much as I love being able to go out any night of the week, and buy drinks, and take women out on dates and not think twice; at the end of the day if I tough it out by the time I’m 30, I will get to that level I’m trying to get achieve, then it’s worth it. It’s totally worth it.
When someone has the entrepreneur bug in them, you can rationalize all day, but you’re ultimately going to do what you want to do. However, from a very realistic standpoint it would be less of risk to do it in your 20s . . . than say in your 40s. And that’s when the sense of urgency kicks in. Don’t wait until you’re 35-40 and have family to take a shot at something that may not work out. Right now, you can afford to eat in seven nights a week because it’s not like you’ll be keeping other people hungry doing it.
Q. Student debt is reality for many recent grads. How would you recommend budding entrepreneurs with big plans and limited capital get started?
A. First off, you want to look at what cash, if any, you have in the bank. I personally had accumulated savings from other jobs that I’ve had in the past. But you also have to ask yourself how much of a risk do I want to take? How much will I give this dream to make it reality?
When you realize you’ll give it everything you got, that’s when you really don’t feel bad about putting those savings into action, or selling a car if that’s what you need to do, or looking around with different ways to come up with the money.
[Looking] outside yourself is definitely a smart move, especially in Canada, where there are some institutions with grants set up to help entrepreneurs in business. Doing your research, although it can be quite time-consuming and cumbersome, on loans and grants is so crucial because from an extra five hours spent searching and applying, you can get an extra X-amount dollars out of it.
It’s also a nice reality check because when you go to approach some of these different institutions about receiving a loan or grant, if there is no interest in your business, or if they can really cut up your business plan or say, “I don’t buy it,” then it’s great opportunity to say to yourself, “I have this dream, but is this the right road to take me there?” or, “Is there another way to tweak what I’ve got to make it stronger?”
Q. How important is a business plan to your company’s success?
A. Every entrepreneur needs to start with a business plan, and like when you’re seeking advice and mentorship, it’s an ongoing process. You can say, “This is a golden plan and we’re going to be rich in year,” but often times when you hit the market things are very different than what you perceived before starting out. It’s then that you have to return to the drawing board and tweak some things and go from there.
Q. Carving a niche for yourself in an increasingly competitive marketplace can be tough to accomplish. How would you recommend young entrepreneurs achieve staying power while making a name for themselves?
A. You really have to be on the cusp on everything new and relevent to your market. There is no time to sleep or rest on your laurels. You have to figure out, “What is happening in my market, right now, in real time, and how am I going to keep tweaking my business to stay ahead of that curve and to offer my audience or viewers or customers something that nobody else can?”
And it doesn’t always mean the latest in technology. It could mean the value of the constituents in your social network. I know for a fact, with NotableTV, when I go ahead and bring people together I can confidently say the quality of those people is better than the rest of the people out there in my market.
Stay relevant, stay fresh, stay new and just keep offering something that, as a consumer, you’d find worthwhile.
Q. Who or what inspires you as a journalist and as a purveyor of all that is notable?
A. There is no one in particular. I realized I have the ability, based on what I’ve done in my past and the people I know and meet, to be in the thick of what’s notable to young professionals. So I feel it’s somewhat of a duty to give the real deal report on what is notable and to share that with my peers.
That being said, I do look elsewhere for motivation. I’m a personal growth junkie. I read all sorts of Tony Robbins, Bob Procter and stuff. I love that stuff, have gone to their seminars, and find it totally motivates me.
Q. What ultimately inspires you to succeed as a small-business owner?
A. Knowing that I’ve brought something here that, still in its infancy, has already received such great feedback by so many people. That in itself motivates me. It’s been such a short ride so far, and although it’s been quite bumpy at times, people are gravitating toward the concept. The positive responses, and my own will to succeed, knowing that there is so much more that I can do that I have not even thought of yet. Therefore, if they’re getting excited right now, they’ve seen nothing yet. The sky’s the limit.
Q. You mention that it took leaving Toronto and living elsewhere in the world to realize what you really wanted to accomplish with your career. How important would you say getting a different perspective in life is to understanding what you really want to achieve?
A. I think perspective is everything. In business, in romance, in family values, in friendship. Every aspect of your life is all about your perspective. If there’s one thing you should take away from this, is that entrepreneurship is only part of the total package of your life. If you’re not happy in other areas of your life, it makes being an entrepreneur a hell of a lot harder.
In my case, living in a couple different cities definitely opened up my eyes on different ways to do things. And that was an invaluable experience. However, it doesn’t take running to different cities to get that fresh perspective. I think surrounding yourself with the best and pushing yourself will ultimately lead to that different perspective that often times is necessary to really successfully start something.