Humans of INKspire

Kieran Mathew

For those who are not familiar with you, what is your story?

My name is Kieran Mathew. I am a twenty-two year old entrepreneur, start-up advisor and youth marketer. As a former student of Western University, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the start-up ecosystems in both Toronto and London. In university, I sought to gain experience in various marketing and business development positions. I did this with the intention of trying to find out what exactly I was interested in.

I was able to leverage this experience to secure a summer internship in Management Consulting following my second year of university. Throughout the course of this position, I realized that larger corporations were having difficulty marketing towards the youth demographic. Much to my surprise, these companies were actually extremely receptive to my approach to marketing towards the youth. This allowed me to gain experience as a freelance youth marketing consultant. I was able to leverage this experience to do some similar consulting work for various national brands in the food and beverage space. More specifically, I focused on optimizing the approach these large corporations take to market to youth on college and university campuses.

This group is especially challenging to market to because they are exposed to almost 20 000 advertisements per day. With such a saturated social feed, knowing your target audience, as well as the best approach to reaching your target market, is essential. This is where I came in. I wasn’t necessarily reinventing the wheel but as a student myself, I knew the student market extremely well. This led to a larger realization, that no one understands how to appeal to the student market more than students themselves. Ultimately, I built a whole brand around this idea in Amplify. Amplify is a full service marketing firm that helps brands succeed in the student market. We have teams at fourteen university campuses across the country. On any campus we have marketing analysts, content creators and influencer partnerships. This allows us to carry out national campaigns with a localized feel through catering the promotions to each specific university campus.

What are some of the biggest things you have taken away from your entrepreneurial journey?

The biggest realization I have had as young entrepreneur is that you cannot be good at everything. However, through leveraging your strengths, you are able to make a positive impact. Initially, this may sound discouraging although it is not necessarily a bad thing. For me specifically, my strength is marketing to the youth demographic. In doing so, I was able to gain experience as a freelance marketer for national brands and ultimately build a brand around that one particular strength. Since then, I have been able to leverage this particular strength in order to develop countless other skills that I lacked beforehand.

The second thing I have learned is the distinction between money and impact. Throughout my time in university, I encountered a lot of individuals start ventures with the sole motivation of making money. As a business owner, having your venture generate a profit is obviously crucial for the the survival of the business. However, focusing completely on profiting, can make you lose sight of some other crucial elements of your business, namely impact. What does your business aim to do? This is something I have learned firsthand from experience.

My last piece of advice is to remain transparent. A lot of young entrepreneurs will portray to their clients, investors and employees that they are in a better position then they are in reality. I have found from experience that this is not effective. As a start-up, it is inevitable that you are going to run into challenges. Remaining transparent, allows you to get more helpful advice from the individual you are speaking to as a result.

What motivates you?

There are a number of things. First, my dad is an entrepreneur in the consulting space. This motivated me to get into the consulting space to a certain extent. Ultimately, this was a great help to inform me what the process of starting a business was like and the challenges that are faced by business owners. Beyond that, the on-campus incubators like Propel at Western and DMZ at Ryerson have been amazing influences to me as entrepreneur. In these spaces you get to immerse yourself in an environment of like-minded individuals who are working to build a business and learning a lot along the way. I remember throughout my second year of university I spent a lot of time in Propel and was inspired by the people a part of that community. I saw these individuals grow and take so much away from this experience, whether they made a lot of money or not, starting a business seemed like such a valuable learning experience. This experience could then be used as leverage to get a job or start another business venture.

What is your advice to youth who have not found their passion yet?

A lot of people have the misconception that they are able to find their passion from the onset or try desperately to try to find a passion in their youth. Some people are so caught up in trying to find their passion, that they forget to go out and actually experience things. Don’t overthink your passion and make the effort to go out and experience as much things as possible. This is essential to establishing your strengths and weaknesses as well as finding a career path you would be interested in. You are not going to like everything you try but this is essential step to finding a career path that gets you up and excited to go to work every morning.

How do you stay motivated in your losses and grounded in your wins?

This is a large problem I see among young entrepreneurs. Following a big win, business owners sometimes let their ego get the best of them. It is essential to stay level headed in both wins and losses. Try to focus more on replicating and improving on what brought about the success and this will give rise to more successes. If you get caught up in the wins, it is hard to continuously improve your business. Conversely, following a big loss, business owners will often get discouraged. If there is a particular problem with your business, focus on what you can improve in your business to resolve that problem. An essential part of this process is to take into account the viewpoint of your customers, to see where your businesses offering is currently lacking. In my experience with Amplify, this has been something that has been essential to some of our largest successes.

Do you have any general advice in regards to the youth?

My general piece of advice, as cliche as it might sound, is to get started. A lot of people have great ideas and the best intentions but they find an excuse that prevents them from actually getting started with their idea. Accept the uneasy feeling that you may not be completely prepared for the underlying opportunity and then work towards making your idea a reality. If you get comfortable in procrastinating in your pursuits, whatever the reason may be, you may never accomplish what you set out to do.

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