Following on from my interview with Azee of The Arts Room, here is the concluding part of my visit where I chat with Tahrir, Founder of Inspire Media; which currently has its home at The Arts Room.
Tahrir of Inspire Media
Your company Inspire Media has its own hub here at The Arts Room London, how important is it to have somewhere like this to call your own and grow from there?
I think identity is at the core of whatever you do and where you're based is quite important. You can break it down to your own room. So for example, your room isn't just scattered stuff around; it's your own space where you can chillax, feel zen or whatever. You need to create that with your workspace; otherwise you might have stress about where you're working and you want a place where you can just come and just get along with it. So I think it is important to have a space where you can find that. And not only just the physical space, the people here too. The stuff that you can't put in to words like the vibe or the energy, whatever you want to call it you need to have that as well.
So do you think there is a sense of community here?
Exactly, yeah. Community is what creates vibes because I would describe the vibe as the energy between everybody in the room and that comes from (not everybody being connected but) everybody sharing a bigger goal; everybody being creative or everybody just working on whatever they're doing. But it's that thing of people just growing.
So I spoke to you not too long ago at a Networking Event and you spoke about building an empire, tell me more about what that means - what do you want to leave behind?
I think as a young person living in London we take growing up here for granted. You are literally in one of the biggest cities in the World and to not try and build something huge long-term in my opinion, would have been not a disappointment, but I would have missed out on not trying to build something huge. And I think, because you're in London it's more about putting in the hard work rather than coming up with a great idea or whatever. It's more about utilising all the resources that you have around you here. I think with London, there are a lot of resources and contacts that you can utilise. So I think, being here the idea of building an empire comes from that.
It also comes from wanting to achieve my full potential because for me, it's about having the greatest possible impact on as many people as I can. That doesn't come from me sitting on a park bench preaching to a few hundred people, it comes from building sustainable businesses where you are giving value back to the consumer; you're giving value back to young people. And also, I wanted something big because the World that we are living in isn't a great place and to make big change you need to have a big engine behind it. I think what we're doing now, the empire we want to create, we don't want to create it for money we want to create it to make a better change in the world.
Now talking about London do you fear that you could potentially drown? Not many people are doing what you're doing in terms of having everything under one roof, but do you feel like there are a lot of other companies that offer similar services to you whereby you could not make it in the city?
I think we would have to fail disastrously for that to happen. I think we've got the vision, we're working on the logistics (which is where you're sitting right now) which will soon be sorted. We tick all the boxes in terms of that and the network that we have, we've got a lot of older people who have a lot more experience. While we're young people ourselves and while we obviously push young people to also build their own empires, you can't deny data. When someone has years of experience in a certain field or has a certain skill, they always offer value to you. So we're quite lucky that we're surrounded by a few older people who can offer us value. So in terms of us messing up in the future.... it would be unforeseen. We're quite good I think, in terms of being sustainable in that we're quite solid.
Following on from that, do you think if you were not in London that as a company you would still have access to as many opportunities and contacts that you speak of?
I think the concentration would be less but I still think that there are creative people everywhere and if we were in a small town where the population was 100 people then maybe it would be difficult. But if we were in Leeds or Reading or another smaller city, we'd be confident in working with other young creatives and people in other organisations. I think in London, just because the population is higher, it doesn't mean that the ratio of quality is higher.
Now like I said, we met at RichMix which is a place which offers workshops for young people and you've been to some: what kind of skills are you trying to develop to help you build your company? And what workshops do you think are important for young people if they want to build their skills?
So, the first one for me I think learning the whole business side of things. Like learning Accounting and Legal stuff; that's definitely stuff that I have to improve in. In terms of working in a team and bringing people on board and not feeling like you're just using them but bringing them on board and sharing the same vision. Sharing the same long-term plan - you have to learn that stuff. So I think gaining skills in those areas, definitely. Probably less-so in terms of video and stuff, maybe our camera team do need to gain some technical skills to be able to produce the best content. But generally, we are the target audience ourselves so we're good for that.
In terms of young people, I think you should never ever limit yourself to what you can learn so at the same time we need to use our time effectively when we're doing this stuff. So I can't just say that I'm gonna go out and learn every skill because I have other stuff to do. But as a young person, I would still say, be very open to everything that you could potentially learn. Because I think there's value in everything if you have the positive mindset to go for it. I think because we've grown up with social media, young people will tend to have stronger skills there. But you might be less strong in maybe sales or other areas; so I would definitely say figure out what areas you are strong in and the areas you also need to improve on for whatever areas you're working on.
So just tapping in to that last part, you spoke about social media: what do you think is the biggest platform right now? (Is it Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter?) And how do you link that to The Arts Room and Inspire Media?
I think they are all different tools. Twitter is more current and live stuff that you're finding out. Instagram is more photos. Snapchat is very very interesting and in my opinion it could be the biggest of them all in the future. And the thing about Snapchat is, there are two things that are incredibly huge about it and why it makes it so powerful:
1) The people I have on my Snapchat, which is different from every other social media platform that I am on and that I've ever had, are family members, old school friends, the person interviewing me right now; I've got literally every different type of person in my life on there. Whereas, that's not like that for any other platform. For every other platform, it's all filtered out. But Snapchat is the one platform where I've got everybody in one thing.
2) The other thing about Snapchat is the fact that you have instant reach to people and why it's different from any other social media. There is a guy I follow, his name is Gary Vee (Vaynerchuk) who was an early investor in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber and Snapchat. He has over a million Twitter followers and maybe a few hundred thousand on Instagram/Snapchat. If he was to tell all his Twitter followers to tweet him and he was to tell all his Snapchat followers to do the same thing, he'd get more tweets from the Snapchat people because of the reach. And that is why snapchat is so unique as well because you have instant reach directly to your consumers.
Okay, now do you think that you would use Snapchat to instantly reach people?
100%. Snapchat is probably the most important tool right now. I was thinking of when I network with people and I talk to people and I think Snapchat is unique because it's kinda like vlogging, you're vlogging your life. It's not premeditated either, like you're capturing the moment.
Having said that, do you not feel like people are just missing out on the moment by "capturing it"?
I do feel like that as well. It's a balance though. A balance you have to find within yourself. If you're going to an event and you're Snapchatting the whole time, I dunno you might enjoy that who am I to tell you not to do that? It just comes down to what you like doing.
Now, going back to The Arts Room and your company Inspire Media, what or how would you define success?
Success for me is achieving my full potential. For The Arts Room it's looking back in a few years and seeing how we have provided value to the people that have come through, used the services and have been part of The Arts Room. All the clients in the future, we would have had positive impacts on them - that's one part of success.
From a commercial point of view obviously growing it and getting really high numbers. Because the thing about money is, I have a complete disregard for it. I don't (personally) value it but at the same time, in business you have to. Because 1) it's energy in a way 2) it's the thing that people measure the most. Success is broad and that is a good thing and I don't think success is only about money but it is something that is measured. You need to have numbers there to back up what you're saying at the end of the day. There's no other way of going about it, right? [Abena - In terms of stability you need to sustain the company]. And you need the support of everyone else that is in it. Success is the process of doing what you're doing and being happy. Like what I'm doing right now with you, I would define as success because I'm in a place where I get to talk to someone about my company and have a cool conversation so how is that not being successful?
Lastly, money is a by-product of value. For example, vloggers are putting out a good video everyday to lots of people and therefore they are providing value to people. And therefore when your audience reaches x amount of people you're hitting x amount of value in terms of what Youtube thinks you're bringing to Youtube and therefore they wanna support you through that. Whatever you do, money will just come naturally.
And with that, it was time to leave things there. It's safe to say both Tahir and Azee are aiming to create a future written on their own terms. Keep up to date with Tahir's Company Inspire Media below and check out what The Arts Room has to offer: theartsroom.london