Has your social life been affected by the recession? Do you feel you no longer can enjoy a night out on the town? Well don’t worry. Three young adults, brothers Jason and Andrew Schuster, and David Hercenberg launched an online culture and lifestyle magazine to help readers in four cities: Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C without breaking the bank.
Young Money recently interviewed Andrew to find out more about their site.
YM: Tell us about your company
AS: ChangeUpMag.com is a budget lifestyle and culture online magazine. We offer a full multimedia experience that highlights the best of affordable nightlife and culture in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington D.C and New York City. It’s all about affordability without sacrificing quality.
YM: What gave you the idea to start this business?
AS: We had a lot of friends and family who were severely impacted by the recession. We knew we couldn’t solve the crisis, but we were looking for ways to help. We believe that people deserve the right to enjoy themselves. Unfortunately of people on a budget don’t have that liberty. ChangeUp offers people on a tight budget the necessary tools to strike a balance between work and pleasure.
YM: What was the hardest thing you encountered while starting your business?
AS: The amount of time involved. We spent over a year in concept development and production. We had to make personal sacrifices to get our company off the ground. Basically, a lot of 12-15 hour workdays and we are still catching up on sleep.
YM: What surprised you the most?
AS: The exposure we gained in a short time period. We launched in June and by the end of the month we were getting regular users from around the world.
YM: What would you do differently?
AS: Nothing–you’re always going to question decisions and wonder what would have happened if you did this, that or the other, but our company is based on equality– we’ve made our calls as a company and value everyone’s opinion.
YM: Is this your first business?
AS: David, the Creative Director and business partner, owns a video production (Doc.Umented Video Productions, LLC). Jason founded (Realms of Reality, LLC), a movie production company, and Andrew was a partner in a startup concert production/promotion company (MAAS Productions, LLC), but this is our first endeavor as a group.
YM: How many employees do you have?
AS: We have a core staff of 6, but we also have production crew of 5 and a roster of about 40 freelance writers.
YM: How do you get your name out there and get customers? What has been your most effective marketing technique or tactic?
AS: Social networking has been a tremendous resource for us. We’ve been able to successfully execute various forms of marketing via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Obviously, the beauty of the Internet is that it’s a high reaching, low-cost and sometimes free form of advertising. The struggle is getting beyond the clutter of websites. Though word-of-mouth and viral campaigns, we’ve been able to spread the word about our company and gain social capital.
YM: What effect has the recession had on your business?
AS: We have adapted and grown through it. We’ve been able to capitalize on the recession by offering a beneficial social tool.
YM: If you could offer one piece of concrete advice to other people, what would it be?
AS: Listen to criticism but don’t take it to heart. No matter what your idea is, people will try to discourage you and explain why you shouldn’t pursue it. While listening to people’s opinions is crucial to your business’s success, you have to believe in it for it to get off the ground. The fact of the matter is that if you’re confident in your product and there’s a viable market for it, the opportunities are endless.
Changeupmag.com will host its first major event since its launch in June. Sonar Baltimore will host ChangUp Fest 2009 on October 29. For $15 admission ticket, this affordable mini festival will include 10 bands, Dj’s in three rooms, prizes, raffle tickets and a Halloween costume contest. For more information on ChangUp Fest 2009, please visit www.changeupmag.com.