Crossing the path

Yashel Monteith started her own digital marketing business Brangenic Ltd before leaving university

Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Yashel Monteith, a 22-year-old who completed her tertiary education last year, started her marketing agency, Brangenic Ltd, before she even graduated from The University of the West Indies in Kingston. She founded the company in September 2018 and graduated two months later.

Brangenic is a Montego Bay-based marketing agency that specialises in digital marketing and social media management. It also offers photography, website development and public relations services.

Monteith studied integrated marketing and communications at Carimac, the university's media and communications school and also worked with a marketing agency while pursuing her degree.

“I learned all about the structure of a marketing agency and the managing director where I worked was the most amazing role model who always motivates his staff,” she reminisced about her first job. “He was hands on and he empowered me.”

But even then Monteith knew that being employed by someone else was not the dream she had in mind. Starting her own business and being her own boss was the vision she had of her own future and she began making plans as she absorbed the knowledge she needed at school and sharpened the particular marketing skills that she believed were best suited to her.

Her decision to pursue her own entrepreneurial path was also hastened by another factor. As the end of her time at the university approached, Yashel decided to return to her hometown of Montego Bay because the cost of living in Kingston was too high for her. She needed to decide quickly what she was going to do in Montego Bay and starting her own business seemed like the best choice.

As a child, Monteith spent her early years attending Lucea Preparatory School before her family moved to Montego Bay. There she attended Supreme Preparatory School followed by Catherine Hall Primary School and then Mount Alvernia High School. Before attending The University of the West Indies in Kingston, she pursued an associate degree in business studies from Montego Bay, Community College.

Monteith's father, Steve, has his own company in the construction business with a focus on technology while her mother, Claudia, is an executive with a business process outsourcing (BPO) firm. Her 19-year-old brother, Steve Jr, now works with her father and her other sibling is her eight-year-old sister, Aaliyah.

Monteith would characterise her first year of doing business as successful beyond what she could have imagined. The company is already profitable and she has seven clients who take up all of her time with one of them being a large, successful and recognised name in the tourism industry.

According to Monteith, her clients are sticking with her because they are satisfied with their return on investment in terms of website clicks, while leads and new customers have increased significantly for them since hiring Brangenic to manage their social media pages and digital marketing.

“For one particular client, Brangenic raised their social media followers from 7000 to 12,000 in the space of six months and another client saw a significant spike in washing machine sales over a one-month period due to digital ads that were run,” Monteith revealed. “In this business customers want to see results quickly. It is more than just about creativity.”

She insisted that there is a personal side to a successful business relationship with clients as well.

“I like to develop a professional but also very familiar relationship with my customers,” she explained. “It makes a difference. One company told me they felt like I was more working with them than for them in helping to build their brand. I try to treat my clients like close friends and I will sometimes assist them even in areas for which I am not being paid.”

The bulk of Brangenic's work is handled by Monteith but if there is an overflow that she cannot handle, she receives help from a business partner, Raegan Daley, the company's public relations executive. The third member of the team is her mother, Claudia Monteith, who is the financial director.

“My mom gives me advice on all things related to finance,” she said. “My dad is not part of the company but I am very close to him and I go to him for advice on practically everything. Both parents are active in everything I do. They give their input and guide me through everything.”

Monteith operates her business from home. She revealed that while she did get some financial help in starting the business from her family, Brangenic didn't need much funding because the expenses are mainly online subscriptions and the business did not require office space or expensive equipment.

However, due to the success of the company, she now sees the need for an office as she is continuously seeking new clients and has ambitions of growing her company. The expansion of her business will require more staff because currently all her time is occupied with the work she has now.

Her vision of growth goes far beyond just adding new clients. Monteith revealed where she would like her business to be in the next three years.

“In three years, I see Brangenic as the leading digital marketing agency in western Jamaica,” she beamed.

Is she worried about competition?

“Not at all,” she replied emphatically. “There are a number of Kingston-based marketing and social media agencies doing business with companies in Montego Bay, and I see them as inspiration rather than competition. I am impressed by the volume of clients they have and I learn from the precise nature of how they operate, their structure and their digital presence. I have been surprised at how friendly other professionals have been in this industry, sharing tips and pointers on how to do business. It doesn't feel like competition.”

In five year's time, the young entrepreneur wants to start giving back to the industry by mentoring students who are learning to do what she is doing.

“So many students at Carimac worry about finding a job upon graduating,” she lamented. “I would offer an internship programme to interested students perhaps in their second year of university so that they can get hands-on experience and training which would help them become employed after graduation and give them access to better jobs.”

There are not many established digital marketing and social media companies in Montego Bay and western Jamaica, so the region stands to benefit from entrepreneurs venturing into this field.

Yashel Monteith, an enthusiastic, young entrepreneur with a clear vision, who is achieving success in her very first year of business, can be an inspiration especially to young people as they cross the rocky path from school/university to the world of work.

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