Ian Ellemo: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Ian Ellemo, who co-founded The People’s Games to offer a unique games, music, & arts festival for people to bond over while making a contribution to their community. We caught up with him to find out the inspiration behind the idea and what advice he would share with other young professionals…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
My “job”, or career, as I like to call it, is to try and convince adults to revert back to their childhood and come and play outdoors like they did when they were a kid. The People’s Games Festival is designed to mix the pleasure of playing games as a child with the responsibility of partying as an adult. Ultimately, I am a fun advocate. I want people to have a good time.

I also work in the film/tv and promotional event marketing industries. In short, I like variance. 

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I founded The People’s Games in 2014 with my partner Jason Primak after a well-needed re-brand from our first official event called Man Olympics. (For obvious trademarked reasons) Man Olympics spawned out of the unofficially branded and still running Man Weekend tradition; a weekend playing games amongst friends to raise money for Movember.

We were inspired to continue developing our idea to make a difference in the community, and the fact that we saw a need for a new type of festival: A festival that implicates the participants more than those organizing or putting on the show; a new concept that deviates from the classic festival concept. Why should the Olympics be only for Olympians? Normal people need their thrill of potentially winning as well!

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I have always been my own boss. I work from home unless I’m at an event, or on set. I do not waste time in traffic. I take vacations when I want them. I can go to the gym at 2pm. I play hard and I work even harder. The only problem of working from home is that the fridge is very close by…

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Working weekends.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Raising a happy, healthy, and loving family. Aside from putting money back into people’s pockets and having seen more parts of the world.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
People are used to the norm and what is “in.” Selling a concept that is original and foreign to most has been the biggest challenge of my career. I overcome it on a daily basis by networking/talking to anyone about our idea.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Absolutely not. Lifestyle and time prevail. We always hear about not having any money when we’re young, and all the time; and all the money when we’re older, but not time. Success is finding a balance between. In no way does one always have to work 40 hours a week. With that said, it is important to bang out some 80-hour workweeks here and there.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
I had just graduated film school six months prior. I was a waiter, waiting. I walked into work one day, and there was a huge Hollywood film set shooting next to the bar I worked at. That is the precise moment I decided to “ride the wave” and embark on my lifelong journey rollercoaster I now call my career. I became a subcontractor and later created a few companies from the ground up. Needless to say, I gave my two-week notice that afternoon.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Listen to your mother. She once told me to work hard. Enjoy what you do. Eventually you will be paid for what you love to do. To build a career instead of finding a job.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Anything Greek.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Travel. Music. Squash. Party. Repeat.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Europe, hands down. I love the fact that so much diverse culture and culinary experiences are available within such short distances.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Jimi Hendrix – Hey baby

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I’d start a travel television show.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
The concept of our organization is to give back to the community, and not only through fun. Every year we choose a different charity to donate to. This adds variance and helps to make a small difference in many different places instead of one pot.

I’ve been a big supporter of The Movember cause for a while now. Love growing that Mo and raising money for men’s prostate cancer research and general health.

In 2014, the Man Olympics event raised money for The James Ratcliffe Foundation, a Foundation that donates a University Bursary to an excelling high school student. 

This year, we are donating the profits of The People’s Games to the F.C.E.R.O. Foundation. (La Fondation pour l’Enseignement et la Recherche en Ostéopathie). The foundation treats children five years and younger with mental and physical disabilities. Our goal is to raise $10,000.

What to you is notable?
Notable is thinking out of the box. Notable is positive change. Notable is caring for the community, the earth, our environment. Notable is being kind to others. Notable is forward thinking.

BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone, albeit it needs an upgrade. Anyone who tries to call me knows this already… call a second time, please!