Life Before DIGS
I started my career in media in 1992 as an account executive at BAM magazine. BAM was a free bi-weekly music magazine founded in 1976 by Dennis Erokan in San Francisco and covered musicians, the music scene and its culture. As a musician myself, this was an exciting time for me as I was able to work on something that I was truly passionate about.
The media landscape was much different back then, as the internet was in its infancy and marketers still relied on and leveraged traditional media channels like (print, TV, radio.)
BAM was a case study in the niche publishing model and was able to capture the attention of an audience around a topic that they were passionate about, (music) and thus created a lot of value for both consumers and advertisers along the way.
My time at BAM was invaluable – I was immersed into the world of guerilla marketing and I learned how to create ad campaigns from scratch for local music retailers that ultimately would have to deliver results. And best of all, I was part of a community who had shared interests, passions, and dreams.
Start The Press
In 1995 my media career took a 180˙ turn when I joined a commercial printing company, (where DIGS magazine prints today!) With aspirations to become a Publisher at some point in my future, this was a logical progression as I became an expert in the printing process, which is typically the highest cost center for a magazine business.
The best part, my clients were publishers of prestigious magazines and newspapers – I was in good company, to say the least.
FUN FACT: The Daily Breeze, Beach Reporter & Easy Reader were all personal clients of mine back in the day and I helped the Breeze outsource the printing of the daily paper to our company to print alongside the National edition of the
New York Times.
The Digital Revolution
I spent the next 14 years in commercial printing, working my way up from sales to eventually becoming the President & CEO of a $250 million company. It was during this period of time that I was fortunate to be immersed in the media world, having a “front row seat” to the transformative and disruptive change that the internet would bring. I got to see firsthand, how the largest media companies of the day were doing to adapt (or not) with the changing landscape – it was a crazy time, to say the least, and highly educational.
“You Must Be Crazy!”
In 2008, I decided to leave the printing industry, do some soul searching and explore the possibilities of “reinventing myself.”
With a keen understanding of the perilous future of print in the new digital age, I decided to go against the grain and do something that made little sense to any rational person at the time – start a magazine! My friends, peers, and family all thought I had lost my mind, but my ignorance was truly bliss.
Finding My Place
It was 2010, the economy was bad, and the real estate industry was worse. I started to imagine what it would be like to be a local real estate agent during this time – how the old rules were changing and how hard it was going to be sustain and grow their business.
It didn’t take long before I was convicted to the mission – I wanted to try and solve this problem, or at least add some value along the way.
But not from some high-minded “top-down” media owner or publishers’ perspective, rather from a “bottoms up” guerilla marketing perspective. It was about challenging the status quo – align with the disruption in the market and harness it to elevate across the board.
With a marketing approach and mindset, it was all about helping agents and local real estate consumers “find your place” in the community. And with that tag line, DIGS was started in the summer of 2010.
DIGS is Born
Going to market with a marketing company mindset meant I could break all the rules in publishing. Everything about DIGS, from the size of the magazine to the frequency, was engineered to maximize marketing results for our agent partners.
In the summer of 2010, I began to reach out to as many top agents and brokers as I could and tried to set up a meeting. The local real estate community was still reeling from the effects of the great recession, which was fortuitous for both
of us as it allowed for an open dialog and open-mindedness.
As I look back and reflect on these first meetings, I’m reminded how grateful I am to those first few agents that took a leap
into the void and decided to take a chance on a total unknown. We would have never existed without them!
Fast forward a few months – the first DIGS magazine was published on October 8, 2010 – 28 pages of hope, sweat, and inspiration.
In my very first Publisher’s Muse, I wrote:
‘Our mission is to build the market-leading communications platform for the South Bay community “real estate experience” – a 360˙ real estate marketplace that connects the local real estate consumer to real estate professionals who live and work in the community.’
With no investors and a substantial personal investment to get this going, the money clock was ticking fast.
I’ll never forget this moment – it was a cold and cloudy mid-December day, DIGS had just released its 5th publication and I went to the bank to get a current account balance.
It was $354.00.
Okay, maybe this is going to be harder than I thought.
It might have been a happy coincidence, but it was at this time I first heard the phrase, “fake it till you make it,” and the timing was poetic.
Patience. Perseverance. Progress.
The rest, as they say, is history.
I could probably write a novel on my personal journey on how DIGS came to be and the process of building a brand from the ground up.
The reward and success is in the journey – the ups and downs and the twists and turns along the way.
The one thing that has stuck with me since the early days is how welcoming and encouraging the brokers and agents were to me day one, inviting me to the office meetings and introducing me to other agents.
The South Bay real estate community is special and unique.
I’m still in awe and humbled that this community has allowed us to exist for what will be nine years this October, and the fact that this edition marks the 200th publication is truly remarkable. (Did you know…our Westside DIGS magazine celebrates our 4-year anniversary this month? No wonder my hair has turned grey!)
Today, DIGS distributes over 100,000 magazines per month in the most affluent communities in the South Bay and Westside of Los Angeles. Each combined edition has $1 billion worth of properties that are advertised for sale – an indispensable resource and marketplace for agents and consumers to connect.
It’s A Privilege And Honor To Serve You
A sincere thank you.
To the local community, for embracing us and allowing us to lead the real estate conversation.
To our marketing partners, who continue to support and grow with us.
To our readers, who keep us relevant and accountable to our mission.
In your service,
Founder & CEO