What does it take to be a successful founder of an organization? It takes the willingness to learn, to experiment, ability to focus irrespective of any circumstances, to absorb information, to lead risks and to realize that the business is a 24X7 job where someone is always there to think one step ahead of you. Designhill applauds such spirit and presents the inspirational stories of successful founders who have gone through various stages of challenges and shined high in their entrepreneurial journeys. In this post, we’ve shared the inspirational journey of the COO of 6AM City.
He’s an ideal example of an engineer turned entrepreneur who’s a mechanical engineer by degree and by profession, Chief Operating Officer of the fastest-growing newsletter local media company, 6AM City, with headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina, United States.
He began his career at Sikorsky Aircraft where he managed the development of a vertically integrated supply chain for the H-60L helicopter transmission. In 2012, he joined the leadership team at ADEX Machining Technologies, in Greenville, South Carolina.
Talking about his venture, 6AM City is a hyperlocal media company that promises to deliver a daily email product at 6 o’clock sharp every morning with a motive to tell audiences what’s happening in their community. He is also responsible for overseeing people, processes, and sustainable growth of the company, from hiring practices and operating procedures to fundraising and M&A activity.
Ryan’s unique experience in manufacturing, civic leadership and scaling business operations, has allowed 6AM City to engineer the future of local media. Redefining how communities engage, connect and experience the markets that 6AM City serves.
When Designhill asked Ryan to share a little brief about himself and his company in his words, he said:
“My name is Ryan Heafy. I’m the COO of 6AM City, a hyperlocal media company in Greenville, South Carolina in the United States. We deliver a daily email product at 6 o’clock every morning that tells our readers what’s going on in their community. We are designed to educate and activate our audiences. We’re politically unbiased and excited about changing and reshaping the future of local media. I started as a mechanical engineer in Connecticut just outside of New York City. Working on supply chain development for the Blackhawk helicopter at Sikorsky Aircraft. I spent some time in the nonprofit space around workforce development and then moved into tech startups and was trying my hand unsuccessfully at several different things before coming across my business partner today, Ryan Johnston, who has worked with me to build a media company. So, I’ve taken the fun journey from Fortune 500, through small business and nonprofit space to now being an entrepreneur. It’s been quite the journey and I am pretty excited.”
Also, we have had a chance to do 1-on-1 convo with him and ask regarding his entrepreneurial journey and struggles during the pandemic scenario. Here’s a few bytes.
Designhill: How have you been coping with the current pandemic scenario?
Ryan: We have tried much to put work-life balance as important both for myself and our staff. We’ve taken a lot of time to reflect on what’s important for our employees and myself personally. We’ve struggled because everyone right now is so on and having to focus on pivoting the business and being in the grind every day making sure that we are set up to retain all of our staff and continue the growth of our company.
I’m spending time with my family where I can. It’s hard to do that in a socially distanced world, but we found a nice remote place to get away for a week and kind of decompress, segmenting my work time from my relaxation time and it’s been a struggle, to be honest, to process all of that.
Designhill: How is it going with your team? How’s everyone coping with this stress?
Ryan: I find that in a leadership position, we’re spending a lot of time working on mental health and wellness of our staff and resources, which puts a larger burden on the leadership.
One of the biggest challenges that we’re facing is unknown. There are two different facets. One is not knowing when things will come back to normal, or what the new normal will be and the other is kind of looking at today and the variability in just – are we going to work from home today? Are we not going to work from home today, which staff needs help?
As a media company, a large portion of our revenue is dependent upon other businesses being successful and we’ve had to find ways to pivot and adjust. So, we’ve seen probably about a 60% drop in new contracted revenue coming through the door.
Luckily, that’s ramping back up as businesses are adjusting to their new normal and figuring out how to market. A lot of people are starting to take the Burger King approach and figuring out how to take advantage of a recessionary period to put their brand out from a marketing perspective, elevate and take a larger market share, which happened in the past.
We’re a digital media company and are at a good play for people positioning dollars from traditional print media and billboards and other ways that they were communicating with their audience.
I think we’ve done a pretty good job and we see ourselves coming out and in a growth mode still several months into this. Thanks to my lovely and talented team. They have worked hard. I appreciate each one’s efforts.
Watch His Full Interview – The Founder X Series by Designhill
Pro Advice by Ryan Heafy to fellow Founders/Entrepreneurs to stay strong and overcome this terrible phase
“Have a plan, execute your plan, be willing to pivot and modify what you’re working on? Thinking much, getting diluted and trying too many things increases the risk for companies. But if you’re establishing a clear path forward, communicating that with your staff, with your market and executing out on your game plan.”
Successful entrepreneurs are givers and providers of positive energy. Like he said that sitting in a fortune company and pulling salaries are not going to generate any sort of true wealth where you can’t give back and contribute back to your community. The only entrepreneurial route can provide that. It’s an opportunity to feel good by giving back and supporting your community. It’s a fun ride. Cherish it.
It felt amazing interacting with Ryan Heafy and learning about his experiences, challenges and ideal ways to overcome the hurdles. Thanks a lot, Ryan Heafy, giving us your precious and valuable time. We feel delighted to share your untold story with our community and wish the abundance success to you and 6AM City.