Justin Harrison has worked behind the scenes in developing one of the countries leading credit reporting platforms. During lockdown, he saw the devastating effects Covid-19 was having on people financially through the data the company works with.
This inspired him to start a YouTube channel to give people practical advice on how to save, invest and navigate money… and more importantly, take people back to basics with money.
1. What made you decide to branch out from your existing business/venture in these troubled times? Or was it the troubled times that pushed you into launching your series?
I have been in online marketing and digital media since 1999. The online space and digital media have always been at the centre of our businesses.
One of our businesses is a consumer credit reporting platform called mycreditstatus.co.za which gives consumers access to their credit profiles and educates them on how to improve their credit scores and manage their finances.
When Covid-19 hit last year we started to see the adverse effects on people financially, and my business partners and I sat down and had a deep conversation on what we could do to help.
With people locked up in their homes and consumed by the negative news and trapped in the negative social media vortex, we started to brainstorm around how we could reach people and impact them positively during the lockdown.
The result from that brainstorming session was to start a YouTube channel, Global Money Academy. focused on giving people practical financial advice and motivation.
2. Give us a brief history of your venture. What gave you the idea? How did it begin, and how has your business journey unfolded?
We started our YouTube channel on 18 July 2019 and in the first month we had over 4 500 people join our email mailing list for the channel and by December 2019 we had reached 125 000 viewers and gained 3 000 channel subscribers.
As of February this year we have reached 185 000 viewers and have 4 300 regular subscribers to the channel and a further 21 000 email subscribers.
3. What challenges did you face in setting up this series and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge by far was learning the technical aspects of creating content, including camera equipment, lighting, sound and then figuring out how to edit content into segments that would add value to our viewers.
In addition to this, figuring out how to rank content in YouTube and creating content that was not only good for the viewer but also good for rankings in YouTube was and is a very real challenge.
4. Has there been a moment of success that has really stood out for you and that is your favourite on your journey? To what do you attribute your success?
The first 1 000 subscribers to the channel was a real milestone and something I won’t forget or take for granted anytime soon.
We invested all our time and effort into getting those first 1 000 subscribers by making ourselves available through every communication channel possible including, Facebook, WhatsApp, email, and phone.
The challenge when trying to grow a channel like this is that when you have no subscribers, it’s hard to get your content out, and people don’t always trust channels that don’t have a following.
For us, we felt the best way to overcome this was to get onto the street corner and meet our viewers one-on-one until the channel gained its own momentum and that proved to be a massive catalyst for our success.
5. What characteristics do you think make a successful media/tech entrepreneur?
Firstly there is definitely a need to understand the technical aspects of producing content, and getting that content in front of people. Even if you are extremely creative you won’t succeed without having some deeper technical understanding.
However, I believe that the most important aspect is having a clear mission about what it is you want to achieve, and understanding why you want to achieve it. When your purpose is clear, it is amazing how the details fill themselves in.
For us, our mission is to help educate people about money. Our reason (WHY) for doing this is that we believe that people who are better at managing their money are better citizens, and we want this country to have better citizens.
So our mission is clear and our reason for the mission is core to everything we do, and the rest just sort of takes care of itself.
6. Your advice to young entrepreneurs or those looking to start new businesses?
Forget the PowerPoint presentations, financial projections, venture capital and fancy offices, its all just vanity. Focus all your energy on your customers and producing the absolute best product or service you can for them.
Become obsessed with your customers and live to serve them.
7. What next from you and your media company/venture? What can people expect? Exciting upcoming projects?
We have started to pivot all our business ventures towards online video education, both through YouTube and also through our own dedicated premium content platform that people can pay to subscribe to.
We are also working on an app to help people manage their money. This app will combine video education with our financial tracking system to enable people to make smarter and informed financial decisions.
8. What, in your view, needs to happen to encourage more media/tech entrepreneurs, and not just that, help them stay the course?
Media and tech have already been democratised through the internet, and growth in these spaces is more about entrepreneurship than it is about access.
What we need to be focusing on is creating an environment that fosters customer-centric entrepreneurs who have a genuine and deep desire to serve their communities and to add value.
9. How do you ‘pay it forward’?
Our mission and our reason for our mission is how we pay it forward.
10. What quote or passage do you think encapsulates you and your approach to business and success?
Influence is far more valuable than profit because without influence there will be no long term sustainable profit, however, without profit, we cannot influence so we must approach both of these with the same level of care and responsibility.
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