Bryan Sims, CEO of BrassMEDIA, has taken the lead from Bill Gates and other billionaires to commit a portion of his earnings to philanthropy. His company's motto is "Young today, rich tomorrow." // PHOTO COURTESY OF BRASS MEDIA
The list of billionaires agreeing to give the bulk of their fortunes away to charity is growing: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Paul Allen.
If you’re unfamiliar with that last name compared to the ones preceding it, that’s understandable. The 27-year-old Sims is far from a billionaire, but he has signed the pledge that Gates and Buffett are offering up to the world’s wealthiest citizens as a challenge to leave behind something more significant than large piles of money for spoiled heirs and heiresses. A bit presumptuous, perhaps, but Sims makes that case that the next generation of entrepreneurs should consider making ambitious pledges early in the name of focus and clarity, two attributes he has displayed abundantly in his young career.
Sims is the founder and CEO of the Corvallis custom publisher BrassMEDIA, which promotes financial literacy for young people. He didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but he made the most of what he had, taking his earnings from a janitorial job he held as a teenager to launch a high school investing club, then founding a company that teaches young people how to set up similar groups. “We had teenagers doing reports about Pfizer and the drug industry,” he says. “And we outperformed the market.”
Sims built BrassMEDIA from two people in a garage in 2004 to 25 employees and growing by forming strong partnerships with local credit unions that sponsor the magazine he distributes to high school and college students. Like many publishers, he lost momentum during the downturn, but the economic and financial turmoil only made his mission of teaching the next generation about money seem more important.
He says he decided to commit his earnings to philanthropy early in his career so it won’t come as a surprise to family members later. Besides, he adds, “It’s a commitment to yourself. Once you write it down, you’re more likely to do it.”
Asked how much he intends to give away, he says he doesn’t have a numerical goal, but he’s confident the amount will not be paltry.
“I started my first company when I was 15, bought my first home by 21 and made the Inc. 500 by 25. I’m sure I’ll have something worth giving away in the end.”
Sims also plans to use his position as a pundit to convince other youngsters with financial wherewithal to take the pledge. “It’s not just about how much money can I give away,” he says. “It’s how many people can I convince.”