In anticipation of the Entrepreneurial Spark Tour event at St. Clair College, I had a chat with Danny Mark Penner, 25, CEO of the Crier two weeks ago. Formerly the County Crier newspaper, this newly redesigned publication, now in magazine format, is set to launch this week. Even though Danny is only 25, he already has a ton of unique experiences (including starting a business at 15) that have molded his entrepreneurial spirit.
I recently sat down with Danny Mark Penner, the CEO/Owner of the County Crier at the Downtown Business Accelerator. His charisma is infectious and he wasted no time by quickly starting to explain the history of the County Crier. It started about 3 years ago by Shayne Bedal and continued operations until Danny purchased it about three months ago. With the vision that Danny had, it wasn’t conducive and economically viable as a newspaper so they have transformed it into a magazine.
Danny explained the rationale behind his decision: “the print industry is both a living and dying industry […] due to the amount of competition from digital media advertising and [the fact that] people aren’t spending as much time reading print. They’re on their iPhone, Blackberry or the Internet. Our challenges are reaching out to people that still have an interest in print and [to discover] what is the competitive advantage of print.”
One of the ways Danny hopes to do that is with different stories: “…one thing I’m interested in is to bring a little bit of international flair to our local market. […] I support local entrepreneurs and business but we have plenty of coverage on local topics.” In his first edition, there is a story with Mister International from Brazil and a model from FHM Singapore. Check out this interview between Danny Mark Penner and Mister International 2011, Cesar Curti.
For a man that’s only lived a quarter century, he already has a ton of experience. “During high school, I started my first company,” explained Penner. “I bought seven computers with my friend Kevin Franklin; we rented a space from a community youth center and started a cyber café before the age of high speed Internet. […] We made quite a bit of money doing that in high school; I didn’t have to work and I got to play video games for my business. It was decent (laughs). Actually, Kevin has done well for himself: he has become lead multiplayer designer [for 343 Industries] at Microsoft on Halo 4.”
After that, Danny spent a year volunteering with Katimavik and then entered school for his pre-med at the Manitoba College of Homeopathic Medicine and moved a year later to Camosun College in BC. However, he felt his future was as an entrepreneur, so he dropped out of school with a year left: “…my parents were pissed. […] From there, I started a Yoga Studio, Drift Yoga in Victoria, BC. The recession hit and he closed up shop after only a year.”
Life got even wilder for Penner after closing his Yoga Studio. “When I was 22, I moved out to Seoul, [South] Korea and I started doing acting, modeling and a full-time job.” He spoke about one of the examples of the work he was doing: “the FHM model [mentioned early] and I did a training video for Canon, […] it [taught sales reps] how to sell product.” At 24, he moved back to Canada and worked in consulting for a year before he decided to jump feet first into the Crier.
Penner comes from a similarly entrepreneurial background. His Mom and Dad owned and operated Pelee Treasures, a caviar business. “By the time I was 10, they were the second or third biggest seller of caviar in Canada. The challenge for them was trying to raise a family (4 kids) while [they ran the business]. […] After that business closed down, they got into real estate.”
Danny’s biggest tip for entrepreneurs was to “just do it. […] People won’t be interested in giving you money unless you have something to show them. You have to invest your money and your time, but the rewards are huge.”
In five years, he would like to set up management for the Crier and Danny Mark Ventures (his consulting company) to be able to get into acting and video production full-time. “Film is such an exciting industry and as a creative type, the boundaries are limitless. […] The nice thing about being an actor is that you wear a lot of hats.” Wearing a lot of hats… just like an entrepreneur.
To see his publication’s content, check out http://thecrier.ca/ and like the Crier’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Crier/347158672025216. Look for the Crier on newsstands soon!
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.