Why He’s a Top 40: For leading a marketing company out of a basement to the pages of PROFIT and for contributing to the community
Fresh from a marketing gig in China, new business grad Jared Smith and friend Ted Currie decided it was high time they started their own marketing enterprise. So, the good friends bought cellphones and set up shop in the basement of Smith’s parents’ house, using floral TV trays for desks and relying on an old laptop. “My Mom would bring us sandwiches and we’d play darts,” Smith admits.
Looking back, he realizes they couldn’t have done it without a certain naivet. Despite having had some professional experience and a solid education, the two had no idea what starting a brand new business entailed. “We didn’t have an ounce of doubt that we could make the business work.”
Ten years later, the company’s humble beginnings are no longer visible. Incite Solutions Inc. is a thriving marketing firm with 27 full-time employees and clients across Canada. The company made PROFIT magazine’s “Next 100” list and earned a Young Entrepreneur Award for Alberta in 2008 from the Business Development Bank of Canada.
Smith is also senior instructor at the Edmonton Go Ju Kai Karate Club. He says business and karate have more in common than one might think. “There are a lot of lessons you draw from martial arts that apply to business. One is the discipline approach – that success doesn’t happen overnight,” he says. “The second thing is attention to detail; martial arts is really about paying attention to detail and having some rigour around that.” Like flashy moves on the mat, flashy marketing doesn’t always work. Karate also trains a person to observe body language. “It’s kind of like a chess match. You learn to read people really carefully,” says Smith. This has given him the ability to see how people tick in the business arena.
Yet Smith insists that, more than anything else, it’s the people around him who are responsible for the company’s success. “I’ve never felt alone in business. There have always been lots of people – whether mentors, people I’ve hired, my business partner, my wife – to lean on in times of difficulty.”