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Hey Nate! Tell us a bit about you
I’m Nate Spell, 17 year old CEO of Them Magazines. C/CMSgt in Civil Air Patrol, enthusiastic entrepreneur and award winning innovator.
City where you’re from: Muncie, Indiana
Hobbies: Graphic Design, Soccer, Speaking
Favorite quote: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I wouldn’t really say there was a defining moment where I decided that I would take on the responsibilities of being an entrepreneur– it was more of a phase in life that I quickly adapted to. I never really had an interest in working for other people or have someone else giving me assignments, making money on my own seemed cooler.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
My influences are fairly local, they’ve been around. One being Ron Brumbarger, CEO of Bitwise Solutions, founder of Apprentice University, author of You’re Always Being Interviewed and a good friend of mine. He created something bigger than himself, something that’ll last even after he’s past– he promotes the values and traits needed for entrepreneurs and the need to be intentionally extraordinary. That alone really separates him from the majority of people.
I also look up to people like Gary Vee and Grant Cardone, that’s a given; especially for us young entrepreneurs! Gary Vee shows me how the amount of work you put into something reflects the amount you’ll get out of it. When in need of marketing advice and information I look to Grant Cardone, similar to Ron Brumbarger they’ve both shown the importance of being resourceful as an entrepreneur.
The list is endless, there’s something you can learn from everyone.
What are you working on?
As of now my focus has been on a project I started officially December 1st 2015– that being ‘Them Magazines’ a bi-monthly online publication with content dedicated towards inspiring and informing our future generations on important subjects like Game Development, Math in Code and Graphic Design. It doesn’t stop there, we focus heavily on promoting upcoming / aspiring developers and designers with designated features within each issue and love to include influencers within the community.
How did you come up with this idea?
The story really starts back in early 2014, when a friend and I had aspirations of becoming youtubers and creating videos for a living. Every channel needs a good name, so we combined the words “video” and “phobic” to create: “Vidaphobic” obviously a lot of regret in that afterwards. About a year passes and we’ve done nothing but procrastinate, produce about 1 ½ videos and maybe make 0.2$ off YouTube advertisements. Eventually my friend and I came to realize our aspirations were nothing but unrealistic at the time, so we backed off for a while. October 2015 rolls around and I decide to reboot the brand, this time with a different mission. I hop on photoshop designing new logos, banners, announcement graphics and more– I was hyped up. Around this time I got into this site called ‘Roblox’, an online gaming platform; I realized this could be our niche audience. So I got all the designs finished up and posted. One of which sparked the idea that’ll change everything for me… Originally “Them” was supposed to be a freelance graphic design brand for myself, my followers thought otherwise. After posting a faux-magazine cover on my twitter I was bombarded with questions and suggestions on starting a Roblox related magazine– I literally thought to myself “Hey, that’s not a bad idea” I gathered a couple of my friends together in twitter direct messages and we started planning our first issue. We worked long and hard on it– with no experience in publications, writing, or design we successfully launched ‘issue 1’ December 1st 2015. This got us more attention than we’ve ever received, it was a hit. We gained the attention of Roblox itself, they shared our publication all over their social media and we went from there.
Overtime we built our team up to 4 authors, 1 translator, 1 web developer and myself. We built our relationship with Roblox and January 2016 they invited us to print a special edition of our magazine for their invite-only conference in San Jose California– this caught the attention of cereal giant Fruity Pebbles (POST) who contributed to the creation of the issue. Since creation we’ve released 8 issues so far, and are just about to release our 9th. No business is safe from drama, this journey hasn’t been all sunshine and roses for us– we’ve persevered through some tough times, but ultimately came out a better business both internally and externally. November 2016, I was awarded the Young Innovator of the Year award for my city, thanks to the magazine team and its partners. Our Web Developer won an Excellence in Design award for our website from Issuu, and authors nominated for Excellence in Writing awards.
How is Them Magazines different and unique? What has been your favorite moment with it? What’s the vision?
There’s a few things that really set us apart from similar magazines… One is our mission to educate the future generation with coding and design tutorials, because knowing how to play games and use a computer just isn’t enough. Compare us to any other gaming magazine and all you’ll get is differences, we teach, they feature. If you we were to morph our entire magazine into a YouTube video– you’d come out smarter. Do the same with your typical gaming magazine and you’d maybe know how to craft a sword in minecraft. Our tagline is “It’s all about them” and that really shows throughout our magazine and its contents. We focus on pointing the spotlight on aspiring developers by showing off their cool creations, we show you how to design a user-interface to best appeal to your player– it’s all about them.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
Of course, failure is what drives an entrepreneurship and innovation. Ron Brumbarger (JumpStart / Apprentice University) teaches a lot about failure and how much of an impact is has on you. Personally I believe that you learn more from your failures than you do from your success.
Back in the early days of Them Magazines we had no internal structure, threats where issued, publications were taken down, it was chaos. I have no background in business whatsoever, I didn’t know there was such a thing was internal structure let alone how to create and manage it. I worked with my team and we eventually got everything back into order and things figure out. Consent forums and contracts are extremely helpful if you ever find yourself in a legal situation by the way!
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
My advice for entrepreneurs would be to find your audience. A big portion of the entrepreneurs I see nowadays are marketing to everyone, that’s not going to generate web traffic or sales for you. What’s your product? Who would be interested in this? How old are they? How do they think? Do they like to spend money? Be resourceful, use the analytics available to you on social media to figure out who your organic audience is and figure out how you can market specifically to them. For example, if you’re running a podcast about movie reviews, do you really think a die-hard bookworm is going to be interested in it? Probably not. Circle in on your audience and go crazy. Facebook ads and twitter ads all allow you to heavily target your campaign– use that to your advantage.
Teach us something about social media marketing!
A few things I’ve noticed while learning social media marketing–
- Keep your posts at a 70-30%… Meaning divide your promotional posts between your fun and off-topic posts. For example, 70% of your posts are sharing cool articles, memes, or news… then the 30% is used to maybe promote a product, or provide a service. Don’t be shoving your product in your consumers face.
- People like videos, and they like ’em short. Video marketing has become huge in the world of social media– this can be anything from short 30 second videos of you explaining something, or showing off a product. The point is people would rather watch a video than read. The same applies to gifs, don’t just stick to images and text– catch their attention with gifs. (Check out gify)
- Images on tweets / facebook posts heavily increase overall engagements. Google it, the difference in statistics for a tweet without an image v.s. a tweet with an image is substantial.
What daily habits do you have that allow you to perform at your peak?
I really believe in the concept of the compound effect– one action leads to another more significant. I start my day off usually making my bed– for the reason that is the compound effect– it really gets me hyped up and ready to work on something.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
That all depends on the person you’re talking too– in a general sense I believe an entrepreneur when it comes to startups and business should be focused on the macro. What I mean by that is, there’s no rush. You’re not going to make $10,000,000 overnight, take it slow and provide the best quality product or service you’re humanly able to. Don’t go jumping from idea to idea, you’re not Elon Musk and you likely don’t have billions of dollars to waste. Stick with your idea till the end, you never know what’ll happen.
Walk us step-by-step through the process that you had to go through to get from the early stages to where you are today.
Step one: I developed my idea, I put it into perspective and I saw where I wanted it in a year. Figured out how I was going to get it there and what I needed to do it.
Step two: We put together our resources and created a willing and able team that’ll allow us to complete our task that is to release an issue every two months.
Step three: We had to figure out exactly what content we’d have in the magazine, who would be interested in reading it– and how we could stand out.
Step Four: Create. We had the plan all put together, our target audience in place– everything was set. Now all we had to do was put that plan into action. We started by the end of October and completed it early November. Throughout that process we were also testing out our market with different types of social media content, posts, ect.
Step Five: Now that we have content published, our audience engaged and things working out– We have to figure out how exactly we’re going to get our brand to the next level.
Step Six: Generate Revenue. Now that we have our fan-base, a good readership, and quality content– we gotta figure out how we’re going to make money from this. There’s a few ways we figured ; one, we could sell ad space within the magazine, sell print copies, or open up sponsorship opportunities. We’re at this point now.
What are some of your favorite books?
I’m obligated to favor ‘You’re Always being Interviewed‘ by Ron Brumbarger– this book opened my eyes to the fact that you’re literally always being interviewed. Someone is always judging you, so be intentionally extraordinary at all times.
I also enjoyed ‘Your Marketing Sucks” by Mark Stevens, he really gets into how you really should be marketing towards your audience, and how best to approach the campaign.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
For Them Magazines specifically I’d like to see us broaden our horizons to multiple platforms rather than just our niche; Roblox. When we do, programs and languages like Unity 3D, Blender, HTML, C++ would allow us to expand our audience and overall content. We’re also working towards translating all our issues so that our potential international audience isn’t left out from the action.
Personally I’d like to start a separate brand unrelated to Them Magazines, one that’ll solve a big problem in the society we have today. I’d love to start taking part in more public speaking opportunities and eventually buy a building.