In the fourth part of WEtech Alliance’s Youth Entrepreneurship Series, I sat down Chris Anderson. This twenty-year-old business student is already a seasoned veteran in e-business with two companies currently running under his guise, Astral Social and The Anomalous. Astral Social is an online marketing agency with a wide range of professional services and The Anomalous is a lifestyle blog with approximately 500,000 daily readers.
Some people might call Chris Anderson a mad-man, but I’d like to think he is one motivated twenty-year-old entrepreneur! He runs two businesses, goes to school full-time and still manages to get 4-6 hours of sleep per night. All with only a lot of coffee to help him; Chris explained the path he’s taken so far: “I was always interested in tech. Ever since I was 16, I was programming, doing web design and taking high school courses for [computer science]. In my first year of University, I started a blog, [The Anomalous] and had some success. […] Celebrities began spreading the word and before I knew, it started growing a lot faster than I expected. I took what I learned from [my experience] and flipped it into Astral Social.”
Astral Social is a company that provides Social Media Marketing and Press Releases Services for companies in Windsor and around the world. That’s the great thing about having an online business “you can do business with anyone as long as you know how to work a computer,” explained Anderson about his business. Astral Social “…offers companies the chance to get the word out about their companies online. A lot of business owners are between the ages of 35 and 50 years old, and they’re not too keen on the new ways to get to people interested about their businesses. […] We can do that stuff for them at a quarter of the cost.”
Chris Anderson’s second business, The Anomalous covers a variety of subjects (style, music and tech, for example) on a bi-weekly basis. Variety is the spice of life, right? With writers in Toronto and Montreal, Chris hopes that the business grows to 5-10 people in the next year. That way, the site can build more content and subsequently, attract more readers. Chris explained that a lot of the Anomalous’ success is thanks to a little luck and a great contact: “…we currently have about half a million daily readers and I have to thank Jessica Alba for that. She helped promote the site when we started. The month we launched, she launched her company The Honest Company [http://www.honest.com/] – I got into contact with her and we scratched each other’s backs.” His site exploded from there.
In addition to that, Chris attends the University of Windsor with the hope of obtaining a business degree: “I’m going into my third year at the U, it’s been great; I’ve met a lot of good people and I’ve learned a lot. However, there’s only so much you can learn in a textbook and when it comes to business, [I feel] you have to learn hands-on. I’m a more hands-on guy and that’s why I’m doing all of this stuff outside of school at the same time.”
As far as inspirations go, Chris thanks his Dad for his entrepreneurial spark and models himself after Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group. “He’s got 300 companies and more money than he knows what to do with, but at the same time he’s humble and he gives back.” In line with this, his company Astral Social looks to raise $5,000 for Charity: Water this year, to fund a well for 250 people in Ethiopia.
Chris isn’t stopping there, however. In the near future, he has got a few ventures that him and his partners are working on that are currently seeking funding. This includes a music company and an online shopping venture. Chris was very hush-hush about the details but told me that I should watch news outlets for more details about the shopping venture in the next 12 months.
Even though Chris agrees with many of the other entrepreneurs featured that being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, he gave one final tidbit to those looking to start a business: “don’t quit. […] I’m grateful that I’ve had good friends and mentors that have kept me going when times got rough. […] If you keep plugging away, you can fail 100 times but when you succeed on the 101st time, it’s feels great and things just start rolling.”
You can follow Chris Anderson on Twitter through his personal Twitter account: twitter.com/innovationstatn. To find out more information about Astral Social, you can go to www.astralsocial.com and to read The Anomalous, visit www.theanomalous.com.
About WEtech Alliance’s Youth Entrepreneurship Series: For the next few weeks, WEtech Intern Jacob McCourt will be running a series of interviews with young Windsor-area entrepreneurs in anticipation of the Entrepreneurial Spark Tour event happening at St. Clair College on September 5th in partnership with Windsor West MPP Teresa Piruzza. This event will allow St. Clair College students to touch, see and interact with innovations happening right here in Windsor.