Young Entrepreneur: Jamie Thompson

Founder and President of Toronto-based Advertising firm, Adapt Media and currently the President of Ad Club Toronto, Jamie Thompson is a first-hand example of tenacity, charisma, and strategy. There isn’t a person in advertising from Toronto to Vancouver that hasn’t come across Jamie Thompson, the Ad Club, and his Adapt Media brand. Get to know Jamie Thompson.

Notable: What is your Name and age?
Jamie Thompson:
Jamie Cameron Thompson

Notable: What is the name of your business and what industry is it in?
Jamie Thompson: Adapt Media – Out of Home Advertising, Marketing and Experiences. We provide many different ways for people to advertise products and services on a National level across Canada. We own locations and products, as well represent various companies for their ad space and technologies. From A-Z: AdPod; a 7 foot digital interactive touch screen ad system found in malls Nationally to Zeno; an advanced lenticular module that makes static pictures in the CN Tower and Toronto`s PATH come to life. Adapt owns and represents about 15 different forms of media.

I also am currently Producing Partner in Fort Garry Films; a small production company with one 90 minute feature under its belt. This film stars Costas Mandylor (Saw 4-7) and Ed O`Ross (Six Feet Under). This film has been translated into 3 languages and is being sold in countries across the world by various distribution companies. I graduated from Theatre after 5 years of producing and rubbing 2 coins together.

Notable: Elevator Pitch (we just met on an elevator, we have 30 seconds together in the elevator, please describe your business):
Jamie Thompson:
Adapt Media is a National supplier of Out of Home (OOH) products selling media to some of the largest Advertising Agencies in Canada and their clients. A solid player in the OOH after 13 years in business, Adapt can be trusted for following through on every promise made to its clients. Honesty and integrity are two of the key characteristics that all Adapt staff have. Adapt is in the business to stay; this is displayed by creating sustaining campaigns for clients that are cost effective and media rich, thus evoking a true value for return business by its extensive client list. Adapt is a nimble company, it may act like a large corporation when it comes to excellent customer service and professionalism, however there is no red tape in tapping into new projects as it is run by President and owner Jamie Thompson, not to mention the 30 unbelievable employees across Canada.

Notable: Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
Jamie Thompson:
I used to have part ownership in a cellular phone retail store in Vancouver back in 1997. After selling my share in the firm I moved to Australia with my girlfriend. Upon returning I was unsure what to do but had a few ideas. While I was travelling I was using Firefox (which used to be a voice chat service online) to chat with friends across the globe. I figured why couldn’t we take the computer out of the equation and just have a phone that would allow us to chat for free. Being a reseller for Cantel (Rogers) and having a paging terminal that we did independent billing for allowed us access to very interesting people. I spoke with Richard Lau, President of Telelink Communications and proposed my idea which we figured would cost millions to get off the ground and started talking about another project that he had just began to look at; 4’ x 6’ signs on the sides of convenience stores. Richard and I started working on the project, when out of the blue he won the .com lottery, his web registry companies would sell for millions and he would move to the Caribbean for tax-free fun in the sun.

I then decided I would make a go of this ad company on my own, had a 10k investment from Richard, borrowed some money and started with 15 signs in Vancouver. After many years struggling in the business selling locally in BC I was told I had to hit agencies in Toronto for packaged goods. I came out many times to find the cold hard reality of dealing with agencies without experience and a National firm. I was told by many people at the agencies I needed National coverage in order to get a buy. With the limited resources I had I decided I would drive across Canada and look for all the locations stopping in every city from Vancouver to Halifax over a summer. One of the best experiences of my life. Travel Canada; we have an amazing Country to see. After returning home to Vancouver I placed an ad in a trade publication in reference to the 500 locations I had secured. This is where we have to take risks sometimes; truth when spoken is your bond, advertise what will make the phone ring, then speak! I had a bite from a National Television Broadcaster for all 500 locations. I flew to meet the Agency and explain I would have to do all the sign ups and installations to meet the campaign needs; in four months I had gone across Canada (in the dead of winter) with 10 friends installing every one of the 500 boards for the station returning home just in time for the Holidays, and executing on time.

Notable: What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Jamie Thompson:
The people that I work with. I love my staff like family. I mean that in the real sense that we spend birthdays and holidays together, go out after work and on weekends together and trust each other for personal and professional help. The people that I meet through the industry, with clients, or with my association with the Ad Club makes everyday a new and exciting event.  

Notable: What is the most challenging part of your business?
Jamie Thompson: Time. Time is my enemy is so many situations. Time to work on what is important, time to work on finishing old project and beginning new ones. Time to spend with clients, time to work with the Ad Club, or other charitable organizations I would like to work with, time to train and work with my staff. Time for a relationship and time for myself.

Notable: Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
Jamie Thompson: In the next 5 years I hope that my company will have evolved and “Adapted” to the newest market trends and exciting OOH technologies and properties available to us. In the ever-changing landscape of the OOH industry and the collaborations Adapt has already formed, it would be imaginable that Adapt would join forces with a larger International Corporation to take Adapt Worldwide.

Notable: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Jamie Thompson:
I would say that it is important to look to mentors in your life. I can say that without the support I have had from my various mentors that I would be nowhere. My father has been a big reason I have been successful in this business. Advice means you have choices, it doesn’t mean you have to take it. Also, join a charity and give back. The people that will surround you will be a positive influence in your adventure.

Notable: What is your greatest asset as it relates to business?
Jamie Thompson:
Words. While a picture is worth a thousand words; a thousand words mean you will have connected with the people you are trying to communicate to 1000 times more than that picture, if delivered correctly. My staff and I rely on speaking abilities, and communication abilities to win trust and understanding of what we can do for a clients business; trust equals sales.  

Notable: What does success look like to you?
Jamie Thompson: A helicopter ad on my lawn. A happy client that will recommend me within an agency means success to me.  

Notable: Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Jamie Thompson: I am currently the President of the Advertising Club of Toronto. The Ad Club is a Not-for-Profit organization that holds monthly events of 500-1000 advertising professionals, both social and educational, in various sectors of the advertising industry; monies derived from the organization goes to various bursaries at colleges with a large donation going to the the National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS) every year. In an effort to honour and support three family members struck with Prostate Cancer; I creeped the world out by growing a little moustache for Movember. I am proud to have raised over $3000! (and a lot off eyebrows no doubt!)

Notable: What is Notable to you?
Jamie Thompson:
Someone who: Returns a lost wallet. Gives time for a charity. Lives life to the fullest and reaches for their dreams, even if they fail.