Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Kyle on the rise - Young entrepreneur takes initiative

Published:Tuesday | January 1, 2019 | 12:43 AMDavid Salmon/Contributor
Kyle Billings

Kyle Billings, an 18-year-old student from the Wolmer’s Boys’ School, has defied expectations to operate his successful graphics company, Rise Visuals.

Currently in his last year at Wolmer’s, Kyle started his company as a firm specialising in event planning and including photography, graphic design, flyers, business cards and developing company identities.

Even more impressive is the fact that Kyle started this business when he was in fourth form.

He notes that the launch of his company was initially uninspiring.

“When I started Rise Visuals, it was not much. It was just a little graphics where I did one or two works for little or no money,” Kyle said. 

 However, Kyle was not satisfied with this rocky start.

He later recounted: “I saw the future for it. I saw a vision. I saw that it could be more than a small graphics company.”

The watershed period for him, however, came in his fifth form year. By this time, he was widely regarded as one of the best graphic designers in high school.

“It was when I made the first Wolmer’s BBQ flyer in 2017, I really got myself exposed into the open and people said 'wow, this is a big thing'.”

Kyle’s vision subsequently morphed into an organisation that currently employs seven of his peers in different roles, ranging from photographers to graphic designers.

Interestingly, Kyle noted that he at first was not interested in entrepreneurship but became captivated when he realised that his ultimate aspiration was to be “financially free".

This hidden passion grew subtly throughout his high school years.

“Well, I was always a science student but as I came to about fourth form, I realised that entrepreneurship was for me. I always wanted to create new business ventures and find different ways to market products.”

He further noted that research is key to his company’s success and he implements a number of strategies from different sources.

“I watch thousands of YouTube videos, read thousands of articles, follow different pages, just to get new trends... and I add my version or twist to it," he said.

"My brother pushed me to actually spend some quality time learning about different graphic design trends; so I did my research and studies for about five months before starting the business."

 

... Entrepreneur recounts challenging start

Planning and operating his business proved to be no easy feat for 18-year-old Kyle Billings.

“It was quite a taxing experience because, at first, I had to do all the designing by myself. Initially there was little to no sleep.”

In spite of that, Kyle finished his work by efficiently utilising his time, whether during the ride to or using free sessions at school.

Coupled with research, Kyle also balances his academic studies with a variety of extracurricular activities such as Wolmer’s Boys’ Help Earth and Lives (HEAL), Key Club, Interact Club and Basketball. He is also a founder of the Wolmer’s Boys’ Communication Network (WBCN), an organisation with the mandate of exposing students to photography, filming or other media. Activities such as basketball or exercise also help him to relax when it becomes difficult to juggle all the activities he is enrolled in.

This leads to him taking a disciplined approach to time management. He encourages students interested in business to “plan out your daily life... set a certain amount of time for checking up on the business, some for studying, some for social life and some for daily activities.”

However, this was insufficient in preparing him for his most difficult experience yet, his first real job at an event. He recalls doing over $20,000 worth of flyers for an event, only for it to be cancelled the day before it was to be hosted.

He noted: “I never saw those guys again so I did that work and (was paid) nothing.”

He added that this blow was particularly devastating as it was around the time of his Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations in June and he lost a month of work.

Regardless, he did not allow this obstacle to derail his plans.

“I just sat down and said to myself, 'Alright Kyle, you are going to have some losses. Businesses lose sometimes'. I said 'Next time, I will collect a deposit'.”

This fighting spirit is also matched by support from his friends and family, particularly his older brother.

He further cautioned new entrepreneurs against persons, even friends, who would want to exploit them.

“In this graphics design business, time is equal to money. So try to avoid people coming to pay 'exposure dollars', because exposure (alone) cannot help you get new equipment or help you to excel in graphics design.You have to deal with progress.”

His lasting vision is that, “I see Rise Visuals as one of the biggest graphic design companies in Jamaica. I plan to take Rise to a whole new level in 2019, including employing more people and expanding.”

- For further information, Rise Visuals can be contacted through email, rise.visualsja@gmail.com, by phone at (876)-389-0719 or through their Instagram page, @rise.visualsja.