Sathish Bala: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is BlueBand Brand + Digital Founder and CEO Sathish Bala, who one day hopes to see his company be selected as the best place to work in Canada. Read on to find out his plan to achieve exactly that…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
As the CEO of BlueBand Brand + Digital, I have to set the vision for where we are heading and build a culture and team who believe in the same goals, visions and our journey. We are in a constant state of beta and my job is to ensure we all stay glued to each other and believe everyday that we have the opportunity to succeed.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I have been an entrepreneur since my days at Ryerson. I started my first venture in 4th year and since then I have been lucky enough to continue building business that I am passionate about. I love the risk/reward that comes with this lifestyle and I like the complexities I get to solve everyday. Keeps me young!

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best of my day-to-day is the hunt. I get up every day and I love that I get talk about our business to strangers and get them interested in our history, our people and our successes. I used to think of it as ‘sales calls’ but now I am genuinely excited to share our story and getting an opportunity to win the trust of some awesome clients. The most challenging part daily is finding a personal balance. After 20 years of doing this, I still miss lunches, working out, and family time. 

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I don’t seek work/life balance anymore. It’s not realistic. Running an agency is work AND life. Instead I balance daily moments of work and life and ensure as often as possible I balance it. Some months are all work and at other times I shut down and throw the phone and laptop away.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
We have had steady growth over the last five years and I hope to continue this and also take some calculated risks to push us higher up the agency ladder. Opening up in the US market is something that we are focused on in the next five years. Building our senior team and brining on a few more key partners is important to us. We have spent a lot of time working on our culture and staff happiness and winning ‘Best Place to Work’ in the next five years will be a fantastic milestone.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I come from a traditional Indian household. My parents expected the 9-5 job and path, and when I decided to break that, there was a constant fear of failure. I felt like the world would end if my business was not a success and that my parents would be right, and so I played it safe; didn’t really push myself. I spent 10 years playing it safe and the best thing that happened was a failed venture. The world didn’t end and it was OK. I found my purpose again and the last 10 years have been phenomenal. Almost everything we fear is worse in our minds than what it really is.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success is getting up in the morning and WANTING to get to work for 9. I learned a long time ago that money will come and go, and while it’s important and it feels good to work hard and enjoy the finer things in life, I like seeing our staff grow, clients stay, and the moment when a cold call turns into a trusting client.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
BlueBand turned 10 in 2014! 10!! We started from zero. I wasn’t from the agency world. Didn’t bring any clients with me. I started with a vision and believed that I can build a great agency, find amazing talent, and that our approach to business and our core values will set us up for success.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Don’t shy away from the struggle. It’s a great teacher and most people quit too soon. You learn so much about yourself in those dark moments and that is important to personal growth.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Spoke Club. CIBO, DW Alexander, Reposado (Toronto).

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Gym, family and making music in my studio.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
NYC. When I need a boost, it’s where I go. The city inspires me and every time I get back from NYC, I am pumped! Plus, the music scene is incredible and I get to plug in and be inspired for a few days.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Drake’s 0 to 100 is the new song and anything Jay-Z… anytime.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
The best hip-hop DJ in the world. Seriously.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Every month, we donate a portion of our sales to a variety of charities and local support groups through our not-for-profit, UMA Foundation. Most recently, I was introduced to and love how they are helping restore vision to so many people whose blindness can be fixed.

What to you is notable?
Living life with a purpose and serving the needs of others.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Android (as of 2015).


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