Imagine you’re playing a game in which you have to guess the age of a contestant based on the experiences they’ve had in life. One claims to have worked at a large global company, built their own presence as an online influencer, started a marketing agency and even survived cancer. How old do you think he is?
Suhit Amin can claim each. He’s 19. Even the fact he turns 20 in March shouldn’t be enough to pick up our collective jaws.
The first sign that something wasn’t right with his health came late in 2017, when he was just 16. “I remember vividly,” he told me from his home in Scotland in a recent Zoom conversation. “I was in the car on the way to a New Year’s Eve party, and I felt a lump in my neck.”
Amin thought nothing of it until more lumps formed that winter. He had just begun a job as a junior account manager at ESL, the world’s largest esports company. He was in his fifth year of secondary school, a critical time in Scottish academia for earning university placement.
Two months of tests and biopsies led to the diagnosis: Stage 2A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the lymphatic system. “I was in a state of shock,” Amin remembers. Still, doctors gave Amin an 85% chance of survival. It was the other 15%, however, that helped him survive.
“I just kept thinking, ‘What if I’m in the 15 percent?’” he says. “If I’m not going to be here in one year, two years or five years, I want to go out of this world doing something really big. My ambition from an early age was to be a successful entrepreneur. That became all that mattered.”
Minding the gap
Amin’s entry point to esports and influencers was as a gamer, and then YouTuber himself. His Chainex channel featured content around Five Nights at Freddy’sSource Filmmaker animations and gaming. It grew to more than 37,000 subscribers and had millions of monthly views. As he learned more about the business of YouTubing, his entrepreneurial drive kicked in.
Amin began managing what YouTubers call “multichannel networks” (think talent management). Amin handled the advertising and promotions for a cluster of YouTube stars so they could focus on creating content. His connections and savvy in those ecosystems led to an opportunity leading marketing for FragRadio, which provides free streaming music for gamers. But then, what he thought was his big professional break — landing a spot at ESL — coincided with the onset of his lymphoma. His dream job would have to wait.
“From a very young age, my parents instilled in me the importance of turning a negative into a positive,” Amin explains. “It took me a little while after the diagnosis, but I would go to each treatment thinking, ‘Only 11 more to go.’ And then, ‘Only 10 more to go.’
“My attitude was that in six months, the treatments and the cancer will be over. That’s such a short period of time in the grand scheme of things.”
Once healthy, he thanked ESL for the opportunity, but turned his attention toward building an influencer-marketing agency, one that would both represent talent as he had before, but also develop creative campaigns for brands looking to tap into influencer audiences.
“There really wasn’t anything like that in Scotland, so I wanted to be the first and build from there,” Amin says.
He officially launched Saulderson Media in Fall 2018, describing how “it was originally catered around esports and gaming because that’s what we knew and where we came from, but we have diversified and work with influencers and brands of all sorts now.”
Saulderson, which hit the six-figure revenue in six months and finished 2020 with seven figures in billings, has a talent management roster of high-performing social media creators across YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Twitch. According to Amin, the agency side of the business is flourishing because it guarantees results.
“Brands can trust that we will hit the results we agree to hit,” he assures. “If we have to dig into our agency fees or take a loss, we will.”
Saulderson typically guarantees performance in the form of impressions and engagements, but has tied in website visits and conversions into some programs. The company was behind the 2019 launch of Wondershare’s Filmora 9 software, which leveraged content creators to promote the video editing app. Saulderson guaranteed one million impressions of influencers using and promoting the product. It ultimately drove 6.4 million and more than 16,000 visitors to the product’s website. The campaign was recognized as the Best Use of a Small Budget at the 2020 Influencer Marketing Awards.
Life lessons from a teenager
In addition to leading the growth of one of Scotland’s first influencer-marketing agencies, Amin — who is now in his third year of studies at the University of St. Andrews — is building influence of his own. His entrepreneurial journey, still in progress though it may be, is perhaps more colorful and revealing than others decades more in the making, and he spends a fair amount of time and energy sharing what he has learned with other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Amin even distills his cancer experience down to six life lessons he applies to his business.
1. See challenges, not obstacles. “Obstacles are always thrown in your way,” he says, “but you can find a way through it. Have the mindset that this is not an obstacle; it’s a challenge, and you are going to overcome this challenge.”
2. Be persistent and resilient. “If you want to achieve anything, you’ve got to be persistent,” says Amin. “But the thing that is really going to shape you and your success is how you rise up from your setbacks.”
3. Be grateful. “Cancer really made me grateful for life and not to take things for granted,” he shares. I’m so grateful for the success I have in life and in my business.”
4. Be yourself. “Don’t waste time trying to be something you’re not,” Amin says. “The pressure to succeed is often defined by other people’s interpretation of success. Your definition matters. Theirs doesn’t.”
5. Never pass an opportunity. “Opportunities come from everywhere, but can lead anywhere,” he says. “You never know which is going to open a door to greater success.”
6. Always be positive. “If you don’t have a positive attitude in life, yours is not going to be fulfilling,” Amin concludes. “You also attract into your life what you believe. If you live with a positive mindset, equally as positive things will come your way.”
Suffice to say if we all understood those lessons at age 19, success would be more common. And the world would be a better place.