Alumni Profile: Harrison Forman | Brunch Media
“In 2011, when I was a sophomore at Michigan, I cold-emailed every entrepreneurship club on campus. I was just trying to get a feel for what was out there.”
Harrison Forman’s goal? Do something.
Simply put, Forman is the epitome of what U-M prides itself in being; he is a Victor for innovation. From founding a student recruiting company to running the show as the Young Alumni Chair for the Bay Area U of M Alumni Association, Harrison consistently chooses to make the most out of every connection and opportunity presented to him. His eagerness dates back to the first day he stepped on Michigan’s campus.
After sending out those initial emails in his early days at U-M, and immersing himself into the world of student ventures and ideation during his sophomore year, Forman found himself working on a student startup team called Notify. Notify was a basic mobile app that aimed to better inform and connect students to events on campus and within the community. Searching for opportunities to pitch their app to alumni and investors, Forman and the Notify team packed their bags, got on a plane, and attended the Center for Entrepreneurship’s Weather Underground Startup Trek in San Francisco.
During their time in the Bay Area, the Notify team connected with major U-M alumni, as well as won 2nd place in a pitch competition.
“Five years later, I still have friends and trusted advisors that I met on WUST,” said Forman. “People are so willing to give back and help. Michigan alumni bring engagement to a whole new level.”
Forman’s work on Notify brought him to TechArb, Michigan’s student startup accelerator, where he was connected with the CFE again. Shortly
after, Forman began running the CFE’s social media and worked as a representative on their student advisory board, where he delved deeper into entrepreneurship. Exploring the plethora of entrepreneurship groups at U-M, Harrison was inspired to help students engage with startups and encouraged others to to adapt the mentality of an entrepreneur.
Try. Risk. Fail. Do.
“I became a peer mentor, and I lived for it! I listened to pitches and helped other students grow their ideas in an effort to create a meaningful impact on campus,” said Harrison
Forman found solace outside of his comfort zone, hearing from other student innovators, and gaining major hands-on educational opportunities outside of the classroom. After four years at U-M, Forman set out for the West Coast. His journey from New Jersey to Ann Arbor continued on to San Francisco, where he worked for two different startups in sales positions.
But, in all the excitement of the West Coast, Harrison found himself lost. The startup he had been working for wasn’t a great fit, but his passion for innovation was fervent as ever.
“A friend recommended that I write down everything that I have ever done since kindergarten. I wrote 30 pages of everything. There were trends of media and content creation, focusing on blogs, TV, and videos.”
After identifying his strengths and passions, Forman was connected with a Michigan alum who set him up with an entry level job at Facebook on the Public Content Team. And he has soaked up everything since.
Immersed in content creation that followed the launch of Facebook Live, Harrison caught the entrepreneurship bug once again. Working so heavily in content–blogs, videos and more–he got an idea: produce stories of the everyday millennial experience. But this idea wasn’t your average BuzzFeed; it would be relatable to millennials, completely unfiltered, authentic, and real.
Thus, Brunch Media was born.
“Brunch is more than a meal,” says Forman. “You never have brunch alone; it’s not like grabbing lunch at Panchero’s when you head home from class. It’s the one time a week when you get to talk with your friends about the ups and the downs of your job, your life, your Tinder dates.”
And that was the beginning of Forman’s second startup. Brunch Media created blogs and shared stories surrounding the lives of working millennials today. In addition they hosted podcasts, which interviewed young hustlers and plenty of Michigan alumni, such as Mary Lemmer, Akash Nigam, and Jeremy Klaben. But Brunch really took off when Harrison aired his first episode of “UpDating”.
Each week, Forman would take to Facebook live with a new Tinder date, providing viewers with an inside look at what dating looks like today. There are three parts: 1) A pregame, on the way to the date in the Uber; 2) a halftime report, in the bathroom of the bar or restaurant; and 3) a post-game wrap up, at home, post date. UpDating gained the media company a following, obtaining thousands of followers and subscribers to their social media pages and newsletter.The success that followed the live dates sparked the Brunch team to look into an office, money, and potential partnerships, but Forman admits they looked to scale too quickly.
“We got a huge following after we launch the UpDating miniseries, but rather than focus on getting this one product down, we spread ourselves too thin and started losing steam. It was a great lesson, but recently we’ve decided to keep going.”
Today, Brunch is focused on being the unfiltered media source for urban millennials. The team is currently working to produce better content, creating great videos and sharing authentic stories of the lives of young professionals.
“It’s so hard to start something big,” says Harrison. “But the drive is real. Ventures like Brunch Media succeeding is not an impossible goal. Young people starting companies and becoming hugely successful had to go against the grain, work hard, and really believe in their idea.”
Moral of Harrison Forman’s story: soak up the opportunities that comes your way. Whether it’s a group project or a trip to the Bay Area, don’t just do something to get it over with; do it to make connections, produce great work, and see the value in your day to day.
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Story by Kate Toporski, CFE Content Development Intern