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Scott Jagow: Business Week magazine is tallying votes this week for its list of the best young entrepreneurs in the country. They have to be 25 or under. We thought it’d fun to meet one of these people.
Bryan Sims is CEO of Brass Media, based in Oregon. Bryan publishes a magazine about money targeted to young people. When he was 19, he dropped out of college — and gave up a full scholarship — to pursue this business. Bryan, was the magazine successful at that time?
Bryan Sims: Um, haha . . . no, no. It was definitely not successful, and there was a lot of people that were pretty skeptical and saying, “Oh, why are you leaving school? You’re not gonna get another shot with scholarships like this . . .” and so. I mean, it was the middle of 2003, and we were trying to raise money for a company starting a lifestyle magazine out of Corvalis, Ore. So, not exactly a lot of people were investing in the idea at the time.
Jagow: So why in the world would you drop out of school to do that when you had no idea if it would work?
Sims: Well, because of the fact that I’d started the company and then my dad’s working at the company. I came home from school one time and was talking with him and my mom about things, and they said that, like most parents said, “We want you to stay in school and to get a degree.” But in the same conversation, basically said that if Brass didn’t get off the ground that they’re gonna have to file for bankruptcy, because we had, you know, put everything we had into it. So I decided to leave school, move back home with my parents and focus on getting business off the ground full-time.
Jagow: Now I read a quote that you said you were trying to run your company like ESPN. Explain that.
Sims: Well, ESPN’s a great model of a media company, because they take a topic that people are interested in — so sport — and they put it in all types of different channels. So if you want ESPN, you know, you can go watch it on TV, you can go to their website, you can watch video on their website, you can get stats on your cell phone from score updates. So the same idea with, you know, this generation of people, they want to get information on their watch and where they want it. So we’re trying to position our company to offer information about money in all those different types of channels.
Jagow: Give me an example of a story that I would read in your magazine that I wouldn’t read, say, in Fortune or Forbes or any of the “adult” publications.
Sims: Yeah. Well, there’s a couple things that I think make us a lot different, and one is just the whole style of how we produce content. We’re very much sound bytes of information, so we have tips, stats, lists. With this generation, they don’t necessarily want to read five or 10 pages of an in-depth article. So that’s kind of an over-arching thing that’s a little bit different. And as far as articles go, our’s are just a lot more lifestyle-focused — so whether that’s how you can save money on roadtripping with friends, or what is a credit score, just kind of understanding the basics of what a credit score. We also feature young people who are just starting to make it, and whether they’re athletes, entrepreneurs, musicians, we’ve just got young people doing amazing things.
Jagow: All right, Bryan Sims, age 24, CEO of Brass Media. Thanks for joining us.
Sims: Thanks, Scott. Appreciate it.
Jagow: Business Week will announce its top young entrepreneur on Monday.
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