30 Under 30: Alkarim Nasser

The future of Canada’s marketing industry will be shaped by its youngest talent—the super-worldly, plugged-in, brilliant and creative youth who are already making a name for themselves. Marketing put out the call to the industry to find the top 30 standouts under the age of 30 who have already made their mark on the industry.

From PR to advertising to media and beyond, our 30 Under 30 showcases the smartest, bravest and most creative ones to watch in the business.

Alkarim Nasser, 26

Founder, managing partner, BNotions

Not long after starting BNotions, Alkarim Nasser, along with his co-founding partner Mark Reale, started Yorkville Media Centre – a training space in Toronto that offers mostly free courses in digital media. Today, despite having a fast-growing, rising-star digital agency to worry about, Nasser and Reale remain committed to YMC. Nasser explains why.

It gives hope
In 2007 Nasser had quit school and was working a job he hated. He enrolled in the Digital Media Arts program at Seneca College where he met Reale who was in a similar state of mind. “We were really at a low point when we found ourselves in positions that weren’t pushing us creatively,” says Nasser. The program invigorated the pair who soon started dreaming big. Nasser and Reale believe there is a lot of people just like they were, in dead-end jobs and looking for something new, but unable to afford the time or the money to enrol in one of the major programs. They started YMC to provide those people with an introduction to the basic web technology toolkit and give them hope for a new life. What did Nasser personally get out of starting YMC? “It felt good,” he says.

It improves the talent pool—and BNotions’ reputation
Part of the motivation comes from a desire to improve the talent pool—“enriching the whole ecosystem,” says Nasser—and build long-term relationships with the people who go through the YMC. “We were trying to create great talent that could work with us one day, that would remember us,” says Nasser. “They will always know that this is the company that helped us discover this new work.” BNotions has hired a few people from the YMC programs and formed forged strong ties with many more. “Some of these people changed our lives,” says Nasser.

It’s just what people do in the Toronto tech community
The Toronto technology and digital media community has changed and grown a lot in the past five years or so, says Nasser. There was always a digital agency and social media community but it wasn’t very youthful and had a bit of a “scenester” vibe, he says. But it’s not like that anymore. People help out at events and experts are happy to speak at training programs and meetups, he says. “Every time a new technology comes out, there is a user group a few minutes later.” BNotions started the Android TO conference in 2010, has plans for a new conference focused on Java this year and officially regiseterd YMC as a non-profit so it could continue to grow and remain true to its founding values, he says. “It’s about sharing and learning.”

For more with the 30 Under 30, pick up the Sept. 10 issue of Marketing magazine.

Photography: Mike Ford

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