Posted April 30, 2020
This is part of a series of stories about how student entrepreneurs have adapted or shifted their business in the face of a global pandemic.
Authentic Media Ascension (AMA) is doing better than ever before. In fact, even during a global pandemic, the one and a half year-old company founded by Weinberg junior Mateo Price has signed four new clients in the past two months.
AMA, which Mateo started working on the summer before his sophomore year, works with digital creators to hone their growth analytics and strategy. Mateo explains, “We work with high profile influencers and help them understand the analytics behind their videos and content, to help them realize what resonates with their audiences, why, and how they can grow their community.”
He believes that the current crisis has actually created an opportunity for AMA, as many digital creators, especially YouTubers, have seen their viewership spike, but revenue decline as advertising dollars fall.
“From our perspective, a lot of digital creators are taking a step back and asking ‘What exactly is my strategy? How can I find my competitive edge?’ So from a company perspective, we’ve seen it as a great chance to have some authentic conversations with a lot of creators, and we’re actually seeing that there’s more interest than before. It’s so easy to get stuck in your routine. For creators that’s content, content, content, and it can be hard to step outside of that focus and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes it takes a global pandemic to take a step back.”
From Passion Project to Business
AMA began as a passion project, spawned by a line Mateo read in the Tim Ferriss book Tribe of Mentors that said “The most fulfilled and effective people I know – world-famous creatives, billionaires, thought leaders, and more – look at their life’s journey as perhaps 25 percent finding themselves and 75 percent creating themselves.”
“I thought, ‘Wow, I want to create something! Let me reach out to this YouTuber I like and offer him some help with analytics,’ because it’s something that excited me. And he ended up taking a chance on me, which transformed my passion project into a business.”
Mateo has been involved with The Garage since his freshman year, before the idea for AMA came about. “Even though I wasn’t working on a specific company at the time, I knew a few people at The Garage, and it just felt like a nice community if I ever needed people to lean on or just talk about ideas. So naturally, when I had my own idea, it was a perfect transition.”
Since starting AMA, Mateo has brought on Weinberg junior Jihad Esmail and Medill freshman Lainey Dow, who have helped scale the business and service the company’s roster of clients. “The first year of AMA was just me, and although rewarding, I knew the company could go way further with other talented people on board. We’re now a team of 3, and we wouldn’t have seen such quick success and growth without the entire team’s hard work and effort.
The (Virtual) Garage
In addition to running AMA and taking remote classes, Mateo has remained involved with The (Virtual) Garage this quarter. “Now that The Garage has moved from a physical space to a virtual space, all of the programming has become digital. Between the Virtual Coffee Chats, the Team-Lead Accountability Huddles, the Resident Show & Tells and everything else, I feel like you can pick and choose your own adventure. It has been really cool to see the successful transition, and I think The (Virtual) Garage has been one of the few bright spots.”
While AMA is focused on building audiences and communities for digital creators, Mateo has felt the importance of community while he and his Northwestern classmates experience spring quarter remotely. ”I think a lot of people have been craving the community and interaction with other people. Everyone is stuck in their homes. People are yearning for community, and in a weird way, it feels like The Garage is more connected than beforehand, because we’re still meeting new people and connecting on Slack. I have chats with friends, with my team, with different groups, with The Garage’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, and with the staff.”
AMA was also recently announced as a semi-finalist for VentureCat, Northwestern’s annual student startup competition which will be held virtually via livestream on May 20, awarding more than $300,000 to student startups. Mateo is approaching the competition as an opportunity, like many of his prospective clients, to look at the bigger picture. “We’re challenged to take a step back and assess, from a long-term vision and growth perspective, what is the problem we’re solving and how are we going to be able to most effectively tackle that? It’s an awesome opportunity for us to get out of the bubble of routine and take that next step and ask ‘What is it that differentiates us?’”
For Mateo, the entrepreneurial journey has been guided by passion and authenticity, which should be no surprise given the name he chose for his company, Authentic Media Ascension. “AMA has technically only been in The Garage since last fall, but the ideas behind The Garage and the people there have essentially been involved since the day I came to college. I feel like it has been a very genuine, passion-oriented journey along the way. That’s how I want it to happen, because our goal with AMA is to help build communities, and we’re building our own community as well.”