30 Under 30: Kunal Gupta

August 23, 2012  |  Russ Martin  |  Comments

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.

Kunal Gupta, 27

CEO, Polar Mobile

In the world of mobile, Kunal Gupta is a dinosaur.

When the 26-year-old founded Polar Mobile in late 2007, phone software was an unexplored medium and the iPhone had yet to be released in Canada.

“The mobile market as it is did not exist. It was an ancient time,” Gupta laughs.

In that first year Gupta pitched his software to Maclean’s magazine and Canadian Business, who, Gupta says, didn’t really understand what he was pitching.

He landed both as clients.

Even bigger names followed. Today, the likes of Vogue, Wired and Glamour all use Polar’s software for their mobile content. “Top-tier brands are coming to a Canadian company because of the quality of our software,” Gupta says.

In just four years Polar’s apps have logged more than 2 billion views, a landmark that elicited McDonald’s jokes when it was announced to Polar staff last month.

And Gupta wants to push the mobile market forward at the same breakneck speed at which his business developed.

Gupta’s a member of both the Mobile Entertainment Forum and the Mobile Marketing Association and speaks regularly at the two organ-izations’ events.

It’s important advertisers and marketers learn about mobile to deliver rich, engaging mobile experience for brands, he says. “They need to be educated on how to use this medium.”

Gupta also makes time to educate young entrepeneurs through Impact, a non-profit supporting young entrepreneurs he started as a freshman at the University of Waterloo.

Ray Cao, Impact’s one-time president, describes the group as a playground where Gupta and other students built companies. Cao, now CEO of the online shopping platform Loose Button, says Gupta started Impact with a vision of changing how youth perceive entrepreneurship.

“The entrepreneurial landscape is very different from how it was nine years ago,” Cao says, noting Gupta founded Impact in the pre-Zuckerberg days. Back then, he says, founding a company wasn’t a sexy thing to do.

Gupta wanted to change that. “Kunal had a vision that entrepreneurship shouldn’t be a last resort,” says Cao, who remains an Impact board member.

Though Gupta handed over the reigns to current students, he remains highly committed as Impact’s board chairman. And Cao says that isn’t likely to change.

“Impact is what made Kunal who is is today,” Cao says. “He feels a big sense of responsibility not to forget where he started.”

Be sure to share our 30 Under 30 profiles through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can read the full 30 Under 30 list in the Sept. 10 issue of Marketing magazine.

Photo: Mike Ford

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