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Oct 13, 201510:44 AMMinority Biz Report

with Sam Owens

Commerce and creative culture: Q&A with QuHarrison Terry

After one meeting with QuHarrison Terry, you are likely to walk away convinced that you are in the presence of a young man whose talents and business acumen are limitless.

QuHarrison, an emerging leader within the business community, has demonstrated that creativity and collaboration can launch a startup business (and its team) into the stratosphere.

We recently sat down with QuHarrison, to paint a portrait of a young artist — one whom has made the City of Madison his muse and his home.

MBR: Back in June, your company made quite the splash, with one of the more memorable presentations at 1 Million Cups (Madison). For those who weren't in attendance, tell us about VNM USA.

QT: Yeah, 1 Million Cups was a pleasurable event for us. We truly are thankful for Megan offering us the opportunity to present there and for all of the members from the community who came out.

VNM USA is an advertising agency specializing in marketing to the millennial generation. We devote over 50% of our efforts toward pro-bono services for non-profit organizations because non-profits in the United States alone allocate close to $8 billion for design and marketing expenses every year. We want to help alleviate those expenses in order to allow these organizations to reallocate those dollars toward impact.

MBR: What unique services and/or products does VNM USA offer?

QT: One exciting project is Constructed By (http://constructedby.com), which is a premier online destination for the creative class. We look at the creative class as the generation most modern day millennials will eventually transition into. When we define the creative class we look at the creative and innovative people in arts, education, music, entertainment, design, engineering, science, and architecture. Members of the creative class will go on to define many of the new industries of our future. For example, there will be a creative who sees beyond social media and creates the next platform for instant communication. What’s exciting so far is working with all the creatives we’ve profiled thus far. Overall, I’m delighted to be working with Ryan Cowdrey, on such an insightful project.

Another recent project is with Peter Vu (known for his high profile marketing campaigns with companies such as Target, BMW, and Apple). 23Vivi.com is a unique online gallery launching on October 23, 2015. All pieces offered for sale are extremely rare limited editions and once sold out they will never be created again.

MBR: Legend has it that VNM stands for "victory is never merciless." How does that philosophy guide the development of the VNM USA brand?

QT: There are two ways to look at our phrase, “Victory is Never Merciless.” One is, victory is never obtained without mercy (bad). The other is, victory is obtained with mercy (good). We leave it up to you to pick the side you like the best. However, I feel as if you need the duality in order to form a whole. Victory is Never Merciless reflects life.

This philosophy guides the development of our brand in many ways but most importantly it allows us to quickly adopt a winner’s mentality when we create projects. We start off on projects knowing we’re the brand champions. I’m confident in this approach since I would agree with the phrase that the youth always wins.

MBR: It seems as though many companies are desperately trying to crack the code of how to effectively market to the "millennial" demographic. What are these companies getting wrong?

QT: I would say marketing to millennials isn’t hard, it just takes a bit of time getting to that sweet spot where the company seems authentic to the millennial. Ideally, when marketing to millennials you want to have a brand voice that’s simplified and has personality to it. For example, look at the Taco Bell or Denny’s Twitter accounts. I would say both brands are great examples of what effectively marketing to millennials looks like.

A lot of companies are constantly changing their appeal on outbound marketing outlets. However, a lot of millennials aren’t on these traditional platforms. Brands should focus more on trying and experimenting with their voice on nontraditional advertising platforms like YouTube, Dash Radio, and Medium. There are so many new platforms outside of social media where millennials are gathering — let’s connect with them and reach them there.

MBR: Tell us about "QuHarrison Terry" and some of your interests outside of VNM USA.

QT: I’m always interested in the concept of hard work. I feel that’s what benefits the QuHarrison brand the most. One day I looked at the concept of compounding interest and thought what if I switched out the money with hard work and applied it to my life? Ever since, I’ve just been working hard and learning as much as I can while the opportunities allow it.

Ultimately, my drive comes from my grandparents and their fight for myself and our generation to have the opportunities that I have today. My grandparents were sharecroppers, victims of a political regime that saw skin color as a threat. One’s assertion of independence could open the door to grave consequences. Eventually, they escaped the debilitating cycle of sharecropping to start a new life in the Midwestern parts of the United States. In this abnormal land, they began to rebuild their lives and family, making it their own. The story of their escape and survival is part of the foundation of my personality. It is a story that I rarely share, but it is one that inspires my every venture.

From this part of my history I discovered two facts: First, you can learn a lot about anyone just by listening to him or her. Second, you have to create the best opportunities with what you have.

For these reasons, my life goal is to make a permanent and positive contribution to this world by listening, learning, helping, and inspiring the lives of others from all over the world.

MBR: QuHarrison Terry is a well-known fixture on the Madison music and startup scenes. Do you feel as though your personal interests (whether through music, fashion, or design) add value to the VNM USA client experience?

QT: Of course my interests contribute to a more unique client experience at VNM USA, yet I do different things such as DJ and work on fashion and design projects for my personal development. I see this as the exploration period of my life where I get to play around. Overall, the experiences blend together and add to my creative energy so I enjoy it.

MBR: How has the City of Madison itself inspired the creative direction of VNM USA?

QT: Madison is a city of youth, intellect, and inspiration. The endless rotation of students from UW-Madison, Edgewood, Madison College, and Madison Media Institute bring a plethora of youth and intellect to the city. I find inspiration in the concept that we get to tell the story of Madison since there’s not that many creative individuals telling stories here in the city. Especially, when you compare it to a Los Angeles or New York. Contrary to popular belief I feel like it’s easier to develop a strong creative foundation for VNM USA’s identity out here in Madison.
MBR: What resources, within Greater Madison, have you found to be the most critical to the successful launch and growth of VNM USA?

QT: I would say the community. If you want to do anything in Madison all you have to do is reach out to the right people and I’m sure there’s some way you can make it happen. The networking opportunity out here in Madison has been crucial to the continued growth of VNM USA. To anyone considering coming to Madison whether for education or work. I would definitely encourage you to do so. There are very few places in the nation like Madison when it comes to tapping into a plethora of various intellectual insights.
MBR: Any additional comments about VNM USA, QuHarrison Terry, or, are there any upcoming events or product releases that you'd like to mention?

QT: Yeah, I’ll be presenting at TEDx UW-Madison, November 14! More info on that coming soon. I launched the new QuHarrison.com on October 9, 2015. Otherwise, props to: Feliks Albright, Ryan Cowdrey, Estefan Saucedo, Hugs Etienne, and Naku Mayo — each one of these individuals has been instrumental in the growth of VNM USA.

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