Bryan Sims considers himself a pretty lucky guy–not because he’s young and successful, but because he’s doing what he always wanted to do. This 23-year-old is the CEO and founder of Brass Media, which produces Brass magazine, a quarterly publication with more than 350,000 readers. Describing it as a lifestyle money magazine written by young adults for young adults, Sims says the subject of money has always fascinated him. “Back in high school, I started an investment club,” he says. “Whether they were athletes or chess champions, the one thing everybody was interested in was money.”
Recognizing this unifying factor, Sims started writing his business plan for Brass while he was still a high school senior. As a freshman in college, he began winning business plan competitions across the country, beating seniors and MBA students. In 2002, he decided to drop out of college and move back in with his parents in Corvallis, Oregon, to pursue Brass full time. Working with his father, he began searching for private investors who could help him with his startup costs, which were in the low six-figure range. His hard work paid off, and Brass magazine released its first issue in early 2004.
One unique aspect to Brass’ success is its subscription plan. Unlike traditional publications, it isn’t built on individual subscriptions or newsstand sales. Sims took his model and sold subscriptions in volumes to financial institutions such as credit unions, which in turn send the magazine to their members. This helped spur the magazine’s growth and transform Brass from a two-man, father-son operation into a 25-person company. Sims says another secret to his success was having his father by his side as the company’s COO.
With sales in the millions, Sims says he’s happy with how far he’s come. If given the chance to do it over again, he wouldn’t change a thing, including dropping out of college. “For a lot of people, college is a time when they figure out what they want to do,” he says. “I was fortunate enough to know early on that this is what I want to do.”
Photo by Brass Media.
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