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Meet Jay Buys of Visceral in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jay Buys.

Jay, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Visceral was co-founded in 2006 in Washington DC. My business partner and I (and two future team members) met while working at a large public relations agency. Agency life is extremely demanding and while we enjoyed our colleagues, the work itself was often very unfulfilling. After a stream of mediocre projects for mega-corporations with little or no social value, we struck out on our own.

I visited friends in San Diego, fell in love with the city and the community and we moved Visceral here in 2011 and began growing our team. We now have 7 full-time staff which makes us small and agile but with a wide range of experience that makes us capable of tackling the same type of projects as the big agency we came from.

Visceral’s purpose today is to unleash ideas that move people to think, engage, and act. We accomplish this by crafting the most compelling stories and experiences for the world’s leading causes. Above all, we believe in Visceral’s unique ability to fuse creativity with technology to inspire real and lasting change.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Ha! It’s been anything BUT a smooth road. Running a small business has no shortage of challenges, especially when your co-founders don’t have any real business experience. We’ve learned so many lessons along the way about how to manage projects, set expectations with clients, create budgets and forecasts, and grow an amazing team of people and empower them to help the business succeed. The highs have been exhilarating and the lows have been panic inducing. Overall it’s been an amazing journey of discovery and we’re just happy to still be here.

In 2016, we wrote a book called “Repurpose” about our conscious-minded approach to successful business in the 21st century with a lot of details on the lessons we learned along the way. Shameless plug… you can read an excerpt or order a copy here –

Please tell us about Visceral.
Our clients are leading humanitarian organizations, conservationists, advocacy groups, educators, and social enterprises who tackle the world’s toughest challenges. Our expertise spans many disciplines including communications strategy, user experience, design and technical development. We are united by a single purpose—to shape digital experiences that foster meaningful connections between cause-focused organizations and their supporters.

As a Certified B Corporation, Visceral is committed to serving those working to make a positive global impact. Certified B Corporations are held to a high standard of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. It is a testament to our desire to use the power of business to address the world’s greatest challenges.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I first used a computer in elementary school, sometime in the mid-1980’s when I was around 8 years old. I was immediately enthralled. In those days, computers didn’t have point-and-click interfaces. They didn’t have mice at all so I got my first taste of programming running commands to load games like Oregon Trail.

For months after that I bugged my parents about getting a computer for the house, having no perspective about what a significant expense it was for a working class family back then. Even though I don’t think they fully understood my obsession, they did eventually save up and buy me a Commodore 64, my very first computer and the one I would use to write my very first lines of code. Even at that young of an age I knew I wanted my career to be in computer programming.

So, my favorite childhood memory is less a single moment and more of an overall experience of my parents being supportive of some new thing they didn’t really understand, of weekend coding sessions with my friend Nik as we learned to build our own programs and games, and just the overall sense of wonder that comes from learning something new and exciting and being supported by those close to you.

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