Alkarim (Alex) Nasser is just one of Toronto’s many young digital media entreprenuers. However, he is not just a regular techie.
Alex’s’ career started with the Bell ExpressVu organization where he focused on e-learning modules. With his sights set on getting into Flash development, Alex started Bogaroo Designs. His goal at the time was simple – purchase Template Monster websites, customize and then sell them. The problem was his clients kept coming back with revisions and changes. With no real technical training he decided to seek further education in digital media. He went on to study this at Seneca College.
Today, Alex is the proud founder of BNOTIONS, a web technology agency in the heart of downtown Toronto.
When Alex is not at work, he is speaking to students at Seneca College, instructing at Yorkville Media Centre workshops and sharing experiences with his fellow Flash enthusiasts at Flash in Toronto.
Thanks for taking the time to do this. I’m really interested in talking about the Yorkville Media Centre. But before we go there, tell us a little bit about your role with BNOTIONS.
Since the inception of BNOTIONS in 2006, I’ve worn many hats. Originally a designer/developer, my role slowly started shifting more towards business strategy, account management and project management.
The Yorkville Media Centre is a launch pad for people who want to discover and embrace digital media. We cover a variety of topics designed to help participants decipher between the different opportunities in the biz. These topics include web development, interface design, project management, account management, and multimedia amongst others. Beyond this material being generally good to know these days, knowledge in these areas can lead to careers as developers, designers, project managers, account managers and copywriters, to name a few. It is important for us to keep all the material current in such a dynamic industry, so we often find ourselves making changes from session to session. We also invite professionals in various aspects of the industry not covered in the core curriculum to share their experiences with participants and help fill the overall picture.
Why did you and the folks at BNOTIONS decide that the Yorkville Media Centre was something that was needed?
Although we didn’t really know what to expect when we started this whole thing, the benefit for us has become unquestionnable. It all has to do with the people who take part in these events. The crowd that comes out to the YMC is a really diverse group – we have had participants who are still studying at University or College all the way up to people who have already had a career and retired – and the one thing that they all seem to have in common is a progressive state of mind. It is a wonderful thing to be able to spend a Saturday afternoon with positive people who are looking to learn more about technology and develop their abilities.
By training people to do what you do, are you afraid of creating your next competition?
We are always asked this question. The truth is, the world is changing and with so many industries looking at online for cost-effective ways of promoting, operating and sharing – there comes an abundance of opportunity. Can BNOTIONS satisfy the needs of all these businesses? The answer is no. Creating competition in this field force people to become more innovative, efficient and all around better at what they do. This friendly competition has a positive impact on our economy. The truth is, if a former YMC participant does not adhere to top quality processes, then their client will eventually look to another shop in the future who demonstrates consistency. That’s where we come in. It is also important to note that the YMC covers a more basic understanding of what we do. I can imagine, however, if a former participant finds themselves in an over their head project – we’d be the first they would come to. That is enough to offset any paranoia 🙂
Do you have any tips for people looking to create their own social enterprise?
1. If you feel you are doing good and can justify it, but still face a lot of criticism, you are on the right track.
2. Spend little time planning and more time interacting. Social Enterprise is all about the people. Look to them to help shape your cause.
3. Touching the life of one person can have a collateral affect that can reach many. Sometimes it is best to start small and scale naturally, than to have too high aspirations that they become unmanageable.
4. Find like-minded people that believe in your cause. If you are consistent, slowly more and more people will be drawn to your initiative.
What do you see ahead for the Toronto digital community in 2010?
With a lot more initiatives in place to help people develop good practices and establish strong foundations, there is going to be more and more pressure being put on individuals and groups that employ questionnable practices to clean up their act.