Monday, March 30, 2009

Adam Toren – Young Entrepreneur Interview


A couple of months ago I was privileged to meet with Adam Toren, the younger of two brothers from Vancouver, BC, who both seem to exemplify the popular definition of young serial entrepreneurs. I must say Adam exceeded my expectations, with idea after idea on new businesses he was exploring, and question after question on issues of funding, valuation, and the “next big thing”.

Marty: Hey Adam, welcome to Startup Professional interviews. Tell us what you do.

Adam: Marty, thanks for the interview opportunity. I am co-founder of
YoungEntrepreneur.com, which is one of the largest and fastest-growing social networking forums for entrepreneurs. My brother and I specialize in improving the profitability of under-performing businesses with a unique and 'bottom line' program. My brother and I have started, bought and sold several companies over the past years. We currently own and operate a successful publishing company and several online companies. Read some of our blog posts for more on YoungEntrepreneur and also Blogtrepreneur (you can download our free online e-book).

Marty: When and why did you decide to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee?

Adam: It all started in Elementary School. Really! My brother and I grew up as innovators and we were always thinking of ways to fill a void in our community through both creative services and products. At the ages of 8 & 9 years old we went door-to-door, introduced ourselves, and offered our 'landscaping' services and raked leaves in the Fall and shoveled snow in the Winter. We also sold little 'dipper-doo' stunt airplanes at local music festivals and sold out on the 3rd day! Needless to say, we caught the Entrepreneurial Bug!

We created several businesses throughout high school (imported magic kits from Hong Kong for kids and sold them through Shopping Mall Kiosks, imported stereo equipment from New York, and created a retail catalogue and sold great products to our high school peers).

With the money we earned and saved in high school we purchased a struggling billiard hall and worked day and night to re-build, re-brand and create positive buzz throughout the city! We built a bar, cafe and stage within the 5,000 square foot venue and within 4 months it was one of the top places to be on a Friday or Saturday night (lined up both nights). The tough work paid off as we received a great offer to sell before our 12th month of taking it over and we took it.

We then moved on to our next business venture (another industry we knew nothing about, Printing and Graphics). Totally different industry, same exact work ethic. Long hours, creative thinking and LOTS of selling! We sold that business on our 11th month as we received a great offer. So, we pretty much carved out our own entrepreneurial path and have stayed on it since we were in Elementary school!

Marty: What’s the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur from your perspective?

Adam: As entrepreneurs we always try and oversee and micro-manage. At first it was a challenge to find staff that we trusted and staff that we felt could do great work. Once we find great people to join our team we always treat them like family!

Marty: How has the business world changed since you first started?

Adam: Our business ethics have not changed but the way people do business has changed quite a bit! Technology has made the world much closer. We had a small fashion business and we were importing women's fashion accessories from Seoul, Korea and it was successful while it lasted. The Internet had made it super easy for retailers to order online which eliminated the middle men like us. It’s very important these days to stay on top of new technology in order to ensure you are always taking advantage of more effective ways of doing business!

Marty: What is a key personal attribute you see in successful entrepreneurs?

Adam: Perseverance!

Marty: Any advice you would like to give to someone contemplating a startup?

Adam: 2009 is definitely shaping up to be The Year Of The ENTREPRENEUR and always remember "Procrastination is the thief of fortune!"

Adam resides primarily in Phoenix, while his brother Matthew oversees the Canadian side of the business at their recently launched online portal VancouverBC.com. You can read more about them on
YoungEntrepreneur.com, which is also, by no coincidence, one of the most popular web sites and information sources for startups and entrepreneurs. I'm sure we will all see more from them soon!

Marty Zwilling


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