DJ Alex Merrell: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is DJ Alex Merrell, who, on top of travelling the world to spin at high-end branded events, is launching an innovative app-based social media platform that connects travellers through shared calendars and socially curated city guides…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
My “day job” is DJing internationally for high-end branded events. This year I am launching TREC, an app-based social media platform for frequent travellers that allows users to connect through shared travel calendars and socially curated city guides.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I started DJing seven years ago as a hobby and it turned into a career organically because I’ve always loved finding and sharing great music. After years of frustration, missing friends while travelling because I didn’t know they were in town, I started developing TREC just over a year ago to solve this issue. 

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
My days are always different because of the amount of travel I do so dedicating time every day to starting a new company, which I think could be very challenging for some based on the uncertainty and irregularity, has actually given me a certain stability I was craving. The challenges can be the best part if you embrace them as part of the process because it’s the only way to grow.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Staying healthy is always the biggest challenge on the road; making sure to eat well and get enough exercise and proper sleep in a bed, not on a plane. I maintain a pretty good work/life balance, but it’s significantly easier when you’re single and don’t have children.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I find this a challenging question because if you truly embrace change and transformation and are open to the opportunities life brings you, there’s no way of knowing where you’ll be in five months, let alone five years. I see myself staying happy, hungry, and optimistic, hopefully having found new ways to stretch my skill set and be of service. One thing I hope to have established by then is a more stable home base. I want to hang art. I want to paint a wall without having to paint it white in a year. I want to know where my shoes are.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
When I was 21, I lost my first job in the music industry after two years. One of the people I admired most at the company pulled me into his office and said, “Everyone here is 10 years older than you, and the desk will always be waiting for you, so go do something creative because I know that’s where your heart is.” It was the perfect advice in a scary moment and an excellent example of how a huge blow can be a shove in the right direction if you embrace it. 

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
I grew up worrying about money but with an abundance of love, and I think that it instilled a drive and ambition that has benefitted me greatly. I have done without, and know I could get through it again, but not having a cushion is stressful and emotionally draining. I think the intention behind your will to succeed makes all the difference. Is it to build something that benefits others, to provide for a family and use the stability money gives you to create great things? Or is it to feel significant and powerful, to fill a big house with possessions? Money is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. 

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Starting a company and finding individuals who share my vision and support me as advisors and investors has been a tremendously rewarding experience. I’ve been a one-woman show for years and it feels incredible to build a team around me with expertise and experience I can learn from. It’s important to be aware of what you don’t know and surround yourself with people who fill those gaps.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Don’t be entitled. Life doesn’t owe you your dream career, but nearly anything is attainable with hard work if you don’t doubt or limit yourself. Be optimistic but realistic, easy to work with but not a pushover. Take risks. Always work on yourself personally and professionall. Never say, “I am the way I am,” or rest on the laurels of past accomplishments. Be better.

Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
I’m currently living between New York and Los Angeles but when I’m back in Vancouver I love Cafe Medina for breakfast, a summer lunch on the patio at Local, and Rodney’s for an oyster fix. 

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I love an amazing dinner party. A good friend of mine has a beautiful house in the hills and has been kind enough to let me host dinner parties there while I’ve been wintering in LA. There’s nothing quite like cooking a great meal for 25 friends and spending the night outside by the fire pit with great music and suddenly realizing, “Oh, right… it’s January.”

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Somewhere new. I’ve been to almost 30 countries and always want to see and experience more of the unknown.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
You can’t ask a DJ to choose one song! If karaoke is on the menu, Fever or Back to Black.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
The question is more, “What will I do next?” It’s always a battle in my head for what projects to take on because I like having the time and focus to fully commit so I can prove myself as more than a dilettante in a new field. Making music, writing, some sort of fashion design, maybe photography. I grew up acting and making art, so there’s always a chance I’ll dip back into that. You can only curate for so long before you want to create something of your own.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I try to support and bring attention to the projects my friends are involved in like Many Hopes, a charity my friend Thomas started to raise a generation of children in Kenya with the education and skills necessary to lead their country out of extreme poverty. I also support the education of twins in Cambodia with one of my best friends.

What to you is notable?
Realizing that happiness and fulfillment is an inside job and taking on the responsibility to maintain that. Rising after a fall. Kindness without recognition. Hard work when no one is watching… and I’m always impressed by a good back flip.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other? 
iPhone. All Apple everything.


Want more updates on the most Notable things happening so you know before your colleagues do? Get our exclusive newsletter here and follow us on Twitter for all the latest.