Depressed Skateboarder to Founder and VP of Marketing
Updated: Feb 16
When I was a young kid, my family would dog-sit for our friends when they left for vacation. As a young kid, my small arms often got tired having to 'pet' a dog for such a long time. It was as if the dog wanted to be 'pet' forever! I figured that there has to be a better way so I can go play outside and the dog can still be happy being 'pet'. Long story short, as an eight-year-old, and with the help of my parents, I had nearly completed the process for patenting an invention. It was a dog-petting robot that also fed the dog, among other things. It was modeled after Starwars' A2-D2.
Before I had even turned twelve, coming up with solutions and having ideas to fix things was normal for me. Ever since elementary school, I've had journals and notebooks where I would write down my thoughts, ideas, experiments, and inventions. I used to watch Myth Busters and then challenge myself on creating the same experiments so that I could find out the answer to the hypothesis on my own. If my mom made me mop the floor, in annoyance, I would design a robot mop that would do it for me. One time when I was nine, I heard on the news that someone died from a car accident and he or she would've survived had he or she been wearing a seat-belt. You might be able to guess what I did after I saw that news report.
Remember when I said I've had journals and notebooks since elementary school? I took these pictures of these notebooks from 2008. I was nine. There are three-to-four more notebooks and journals half filled or filled.
My First Business
By 16 I had created my first company, Void Long boards. I discovered entrepreneurship as a vehicle for helping others and building community while searching for an escape from depression. My business partner, Grant Slater, and I manufactured custom-designed long boards. You'll find in this blog article from 2016, that I was very passionate about Void. During this time, I wanted to explore the concept of building a brand online. I spent a lot of time growing Twitter accounts and networking with the people behind some of the bigger Twitter accounts at that time. In a ten month period in 2016, I had organically reached over 100,000,000 impressions on my accounts. Although the business closed with a deficit, I was drawn to entrepreneurship because of my love of adventure and inspiration from my mentors. I went to one of my mentors, Kenton Yohey, and I asked 'now what!?'. He explained how failures are often a precursor to success. He helped me understand that most successful people could admit that they have had a previous venture that wasn't so successful. He was right. Even though my first business failed, I learned so much. If I was going to start something to see it be successful, I would need to double down on my strengths and focus on what I was best at.
If I was going to start something to see it be successful, I would need to double down on my strengths and focus on what I was best at.
I took what I learned from Void Long boards and started a social media marketing company called J. R. Miller Group. I spent most of the time working for clients on my mac, traveling, networking, and learning about marketing. After four months of J. R. Miller Group, I was ready to launch Inspired Blue Media. Inspired Blue Media was a Facebook advertising agency. We built customer acquisition funnels that amplified word-of-mouth marketing.
This time period in my life is when I made some of the largest leaps in my personal and professional network. My advice: Associate and place yourself with an environment that is conducive to the values that you have.
Within a year of launching and recently graduating high-school, my agency had national clients, two part-time employees, and national press recognition. It was during this time where I met Dennis Yu Founder and CEO of BlitzMetrics. Dennis’s program centers around mentor ship, helping students grow their expertise in digital marketing to drive leads and sales by managing ad campaigns for enterprise clients like The Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone. During this time I co-founded a startup with Carla Taylor. I served as Chief Marketing Officer for IDEAvize. IDEAvize is an online marketing platform for creative workspaces. This time period in my life is when I made some of the largest leaps in my personal and professional network. My advice: Associate and place yourself with an environment that is conducive to the values that you have.
Previously, I was the Director of Marketing at SnapShyft. I started out my relationship with Thor Wood and Stephanie Corliss, Co-Founders of SnapShyft, when they hired my marketing agency, Inspired Blue Media. I personally continued accepting more work with SnapShyft without even realizing at the same time I was delegating most of my work away at my own company. I wanted bigger and different challenges from what my advertising agency would offer. SnapShyft gave me that. SnapShyft is an on-demand labor marketplace for the food & beverage industry. SnapShyft allows food and beverage operations to connect with experienced hospitality workers so they can stop going understaffed. The workers would be able to claim shifts whenever they wanted. I believe the SnapShyft technology will be duplicated in so many verticals. Now, as a shareholder of SnapShyft I'm thrilled to watch it grow disrupt the status quo in the Food and Beverage Industry (and so on)! I co-founded an educational 501c3 non-profit, with Don Wettrick and Hunter Stone, called The STARTedUp Foundation. I serve as a board member and VP of Marketing. We are prepare students to be enterprising contributors in this changing world. We launched an accelerator program equipping winners of a state-wide pitch competition, Innovate WithIN, to take ideas from the whiteboard to the world.
The STARTedUP Foundation empowers student entrepreneurs and innovators with collaborative, immersive experiences, accelerator programs, and the first seed fund for students 14-18.
Two interesting things some people don't know about me:
1. In July of 2017, I partnered up with Subaru to make a video for their social media. Elliot Drake, Kolbe Smith, and I did a 6,200-mile road trip in my 2017 Island Blue Subaru Impreza. We documented the whole journey and created a video. The video has been seen by over 450,000 people. Special shoutout to Dennis Yu, Logan Young, and the Blitzmetrics team for the teachings and hospitality. Also shoutout to Kolbe's family in California for letting us stay in one of the most beautiful places I've ever stayed!
2. In June of 2018, NASA invited me out to Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral for the CRS-15 Mission with Space X's Falcon 9 Rocket. The group I was with got a private tour of NASA faculties, see proof that aliens are real, partake in official Media NASA Briefings, witness history (first AI launching into space and meet the people who created it) and view the rocket launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 just a few miles away. We got to experience one of the coolest aspects of humanity — space technology and space exploration. Shoutout to the friends I made - Chuck, Jenna, Jordan, Taylor, Danielle, Aaron, Jeff, Valerie, Sharon, Jessica, Estaban, Micheal, David, and Casey!
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