Jamie Garratt: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Idea Rebel Founder and President Jamie Garratt, whose digital agency delivers world-class digital innovations across all forms of modern media. What was the inspiration for his career route? Find out in today’s profile...

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am the Founder and President of the digital agency Idea Rebel. We are an agency that works closely with big brands to deliver world-class digital innovations – web, mobile, social, online and offline digital experiences. My day to day is running the agency, from providing the overall strategic direction to ideating on projects. I’m lucky enough that I can also skateboard in the office.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
In 2008 I decided that I wanted to start my own boutique digital agency. The timing was perfect. I had 10 years experience within the tech and agency industry and I saw an opportunity.

1. To take advantage of the latest technology and 2. To build a leaner agency model to deliver.

At the time there was a need for some serious innovation in social media and mobile app development, with Facebook starting to open their platform to brands and with the iPhone 3G opening its app store to developers.

Knowing there was a need in the market for being marketing experts in new technologies, I also wanted to steer clear from building a large, bloated team. I wanted to be faster and more agile than the competition. To this day we continue to grow organically without any major overhead such as admin staff and large, wasted office space.

I also wanted to be my own boss.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I love getting a team together and coming up with ideas. Getting out of bed every morning with the excitement of creating something new or better is the best feeling, whether it’s coming up with a new way to connect people over mobile devices or working with a completely new piece technology to connect brands to consumers. This is also the most challenging part of the job. Sometimes there’s pressure to come up with great ideas, but it’s what makes the job and the ideas grounded and achievable.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I don’t actually believe that work and life should be completely separate. If you’re passionate about what you do then you need to live and breathe it every day, every hour. Technology today allows us to be connected at all times, but it’s up to the individual to control it. Some of my best ideas and strategies come when I’m surfing or eating dinner with my family. I try to incorporate the two as much as possible into one life.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I’d like to see Idea Rebel grow into new markets. We currently have offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Santa Monica, servicing clients in relation to those locations. I’d like to see us move globally; Europe, Asia, Australia. I would also like to be personally more involved in digital innovation, specifically in sports.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Starting Idea Rebel was my greatest challenge thus far. Starting a company in the middle of a global economic recession. I overcame it by focusing on core competency and delivering value through great service. I know it may sound easy, but checking off those three goals on a daily basis allowed me to stay focused.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
I have two basic rules that I follow on a daily basis: 1. Always learn. 2. Have fun. If I’m not learning and not having fun then I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and switch gears. If you’re doing what you love, keep your brain challenged and have fun doing it. That to me is success. Money then becomes irrelevant.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Completing the first fiscal year of business with Idea Rebel and being profitable. The passion for starting the business was there, the timing felt right, but it was the proof of being a profitable business after year one that was the ultimate reward. The model worked and we are still growing after five years.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
There is no such thing as failure. In order to succeed you need to first fail. When you do fail, learn from it and either progress or change directions. And, of course, if you can, learn all the time and have fun!

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
The Parlour in Yaletown/Vancouver. The best pizza in the city with an amazing atmosphere.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me time?
Surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, skateboarding, motorcycling, and time with my family.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Hawaiian Islands, hands down. It’s the best place to surf in the world. The natural landscape, water and vegetation fuel my inspiration.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Patience by Guns N Roses. We all need little patience.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Pro surfer or astronaut. 

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Big Brothers of Canada. Annually we (Idea Rebel) like to give a unique opportunity to Canada’s little brothers. We host a day of wakeboarding, boating and lessons. It’s great to give kids opportunities that they may not have.

What to you is notable?
Changing an industry is notable. Finding ways to make life easier is notable. Doing all of that with a smile on your face is notable.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone all the way. I’ve been a Mac user my whole life.

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