Jacob Wittenberg – Founder of FRNDLY

Jacob, go ahead and introduce yourself. Tell us about who Jacob Wittenberg is! 

I think who Jacob Wittenberg is a question I often ask myself. If anyone feels like they know that answer, then I’m all ears! Looking back, I can barely recognize myself – and I honestly find that quite exciting! There’s been so much change, and I’m constantly evolving. But, to answer your question, I like to focus on what I value the most. For example, creating connections with people and telling my story to relate to other people. And, a lot of that is done through music or simply, day to day interactions! I like to keep things simple, so it’s not overwhelming. Overall, I’m just someone who loves talking with people, but also someone who loves to risk and create!

So, tell us more about FRNDLY MEDIA. Where did this idea come from? 

I wish I had a beautiful story where I woke up one day, and it was there. But that’s the opposite of how it went! It started as a rebrand of a project I started a couple of years ago (New Heights), and I found it to be such a fulfilling process! There are so many people in my day to day life and in the BU community who were so passionate about certain things, but don’t have that ‘professional experience’ which can be restricting! So, I wanted to band people together and create a platform for them. Through New Heights, I hosted a conference – and I think that’s one of the best things I’ve ever done! I brought together creatives, influencers, and entrepreneurs together in a space where they could connect! However, it was moving too quickly and a lot more than I could handle at that point. So, I put it on hold due to study abroad. But, sooner or later, I realized that there are still so many people passionate about so many different things, and I wanted to create a platform to give them a little ‘boost’ – and that’s how FRNDLY came about! I just want one large uniting space with no favourability but is simply space for creatives to find each other and find inspiration. 

So, would you call FRNDLY almost a resource-based platform for creatives? 

Yeah! I think what’s fun about is that it’s a developing idea. I wanted our website – launches on July 1st – be a space where you can scroll for less than 10 seconds, and you’ll find a creative you want to support and can learn something from them! I have a podcast that will be coming out – and that on its own has been such an amazing experience. What amazes me so much is that people, regardless of their success, are so thankful that someone gave them the time to listen to their story. The podcast just amplifies the message of people wanting to be heard and that listening is truly the best gift you can give anyone! I genuinely believe that our generation is so unique in the sense that we’re not as competitive. We’re in the age where ambition is so contagious, and we’re so supportive and collaborative! There’s always so much to learn from each other. 

Absolutely! So, what does a typical day look like? 

As we’ll be launching soon, it is busy, especially with the press and interviews. Just overall, building up hype for not only FRNDLY but for these individual projects within the community! It’s a lot of work, especially as I’m also working two other jobs remotely at the moment! But, I try to devote a couple of hours a day to FRNDLY. For example, today, I spent hours scheduling social posts for the next month! It’s all work that I love. 

So, tell me a little about the challenges you’ve faced or perhaps, upcoming roadblocks? 

Well, no surprise here that usually, money is a huge roadblock! Fortunately, I’m working two remote jobs, and I’m able to allocate those resources to FRNDLY. Due to COVID, one of my concerts got canceled – and I’d been working on it for months now! The tour was supposed to be a massive fundraiser for FRNDLY, and we had other sponsors – so all these things combined were meant to be a huge source of income for FRNDLY! However, I’m sure it’ll all roll out once it launches. It’s kind of fun as it’s quite vague and it peaks people’s interests so I kind of love how ambiguous it is. The media landscape moves so quickly that it’s so hard to plan! 

Absolutely! What do you hope to accomplish with FRNDLY? 

A huge dream of mine would be to give FRNDLY a strong foundation where young people can apply for a grant to be awarded funding! Mainly because it is a huge barrier to entry. A big incentive is that there are so many amazing ideas out there, but some individuals lack the right resources to pursue their passion projects. I’d love to one day if there were a way to be like, ‘here’s the money! Make your move’ and amplify voices all over the world to get more people creating! With more creatives, there’s more development and productivity due to healthy competition! There’s something exciting about feeling good about a project and running with it! There are many inspiring success stories, but there could be plenty more that people just don’t hear about! 

I love that! Going back to the idea of a lack of resources, what advice would you give someone who is keen on starting their passion project but doesn’t have the same outreach or resources? 

It’s such a tough question! I hate to sound cliched, but stay true to yourself. As a creator, you change quicker than you can ever imagine. Just treat yourself, and your work like it is valid. I’m guilty of this when I started. Working with a poor mindset or comparing yourself to others can lead to poor content. If you don’t have that 110% confidence in what you create, you can’t expect others to fall in love with the idea! You have to be the strongest advocate for the brand, be honest with it, and your brand can even be yourself. Don’t sell yourself short. Just trust what you do – and no matter what, there’ll always be people who don’t like what you do. I’ve heard it all! The voices of people who are there for you and support you are always louder than that! 

Absolutely! And I think a lot of young people often struggle to deal with criticism. How have you dealt (if any) with the criticism you’ve faced. 

It’s tough. I’ve had people who I love so dearly say things that hurt. It’s not easy to get over it. At the end of the day, if they can’t see that this is what makes me feel so fulfilled, you need to ask yourself if a couple of sentences can shift something you’ve dreamt up! Criticism is inevitable; it’s going to happen! People are way too confident to be negative these days. It’s essential to spend time with people that elevate you and encourage you! And, I’d like FRNDLY to be a platform that can help support and uplift. 

As a student, I’m sure you’ve heard all about the power of networking, but do you personally have any advice for first-time networkers? 

You need to have that confidence in yourself, even if you’re faking it! People can read you so well, and it’s a first impression that’s so valuable. There’s no way I’d have the resume I have now if it wasn’t for everybody I’ve met and known. People are always rooting for you, but that’s the type of environment you also need to participate in. There are so many resources right now – and you should utilize them! For example, Linkedin. People love to be flattered, so cold message if you have to! Honestly, fake it till you make it. While it is someone’s job to recruit, they also have a right to decline and say no, but that shouldn’t have an impact on you. You’re just as capable, so take it with a grain of salt! 

So, what’s next for you? Any exciting new projects coming up? 

I’m excited about producing a new music project next month! And of course, the launch of FRNDLY, the podcast, and bettering other sole projects! 

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