Young Entrepreneur: Calum McGuigan

Calum McGuigan is the founder and president of Fervent Events, a guerilla marketing company based in Toronto. Through clever experimentation and forward-thinking, 27-year-old Calum has been able to execute some interesting and high-impact stunt campaigns. Find out more about this Young Entrepreneur in today’s feature.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Fervent Events is an experiential marketing company, which offers strategically-conceived B2C campaigns, for any budget. We explore, develop and implement engaging plans of action, designed to increase immediate brand awareness and leave a memorable impression.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I studied Events Management at university and when I came to Canada in 2006, got a job at Daily Bread Food Bank as Special Events Officer. Daily Bread was great, but I realized after two years that if I were to stay there for 10 years, I would have organized 10 galas, 10 golf events, 10 food drives etc. There was no room for creativity. I wanted to create my own portfolio and put simply, similar to many entrepreneurs, create my own path and be my own boss. Guerrilla marketing is one of the few industries left that encourages imagination and creativity; they are really the only barrier of entry. It was a natural fit.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is having to come up with fresh concepts every time the phone rings. The most challenging part is having to come up with fresh concepts every time the phone rings! It sounds clichéd, but it’s true. Guerrilla marketing is about being innovative and creative, that’s the appeal for me. If I were to ever duplicate a campaign, I would be forgetting the reason I got involved.

Entripy guerilla

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
It’s got to be national. If any young entrepreneur is happy to conquer one city and stop there, then I think that puts them in the minority. Currently we are Toronto-centric, but we have had clients enquire about Vancouver and Montreal, which is encouraging. Ideally I would like to be operating in multiple Canadian cities in three years and fully established in them all in five years. If growth continues at the same rate since we launched, that should happen.

What does success look like to you?
It shouldn’t be monetary, but I do have an age and a dollar sign I hope to hit by that time. I think quiet goals like that are good, but I would never tell either to anyone cause that borders on arrogance. Real success, and arguably more important, is being considered an industry leader. And in all honesty that’s probably harder than any monetary goal. The idea of guerrilla marketing was conceived by a guy called Jay Conrad Levinson in 1984, and 27 years later he’s still the only name associated with the industry. If my name can appear next to multiple successful guerrilla campaigns in years to come, that would be success.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
My first client: Dollars Direct! I totally low-balled it, and it was a lot of work because every day and every conversation was a first. But it let me know I was capable and it wasn’t just a pipe dream. Further to that, Entripy Custom Clothing, who were my first ‘stunt’ client. They filled me with more confidence, and showed there was a market for what I was trying to achieve. We still work with each other now, I always want to give them a shout out.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I’d just say enjoy your work. If you can get into an industry you’ve got passion for and a job you enjoy, whether that’s with a large corporation or by yourself, I believe the sky is the limit. I’m still reaching for it right now and I’m a long way off, but since I started enjoying my work everything seems more achievable. I think we’re a lucky generation, as it’s acceptable to have five or six different jobs in your career now, and to change careers. It’s no longer considered a “job for life” society, so we should embrace that and take advantage of it.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes, and hopefully as Fervent grows I can support more and more. At present I make an annual donation to Second Harvest for their lunch money day, and also do consulting work for Adoption Council of Ontario. My dad used to talk about social responsibility, and I never really knew what that meant until I worked at Daily Bread. The food bank had 79,000 visits every month, so there was a need for it. Without donations and volunteers these people wouldn’t have been served. That in essence is social responsibility, realizing that there is a need for something and assisting, because you’re in a position to do so.

What is Notable to you?
Having presence and leaving an impression.