Growing up in Golden, Kean Graham learned the value of quality of life. Thanks to his innovative approach to optimizing website revenues, Graham has given himself a life he had only dreamed of.
After graduating from Golden Secondary School, Graham moved onto the University of Victoria to work towards his business degree. The whole world opened up to him from there.
“I loved growing up in Golden. I was really into sports, so I loved the golf course, and of course the ski hill,” said Graham. “When I got to UVic I loved it. I really thrived there, and I was very fortunate to meet so many like minded people.”
During his time there, Graham spent a semester in the Netherlands, which is where he said he first got bit by the travel bug. A few years later he would discover a way to make travel his permanent lifestyle.
After graduating Graham got his first job with Black Press, a media company that owns newspapers in Western Canada and the United States. Black Press had just purchased UsedEverywhere, an online classifieds site. Graham was one of the new hires they took on to help grow the site and its revenue.
“That was a great learning experience for me. And it is still the best ‘employee’ job I have ever had,” he said. “My job was to get as many unique visitors as I could…in my time there we grew from 900,000 users to 1.8 million. That’s when I fell in love with the digital industry.”
Things were looking great for Graham’s new career, but the 2009 recession hit and Black Press felt the squeeze. They were no longer in a position to “invest now and see results later,” so they made some layoffs in the digital department.
“That came as a pretty big surprise to me. So five days later I was on a plane to Peru.”
Graham travelled through South America for a few months, taking some time for himself before making his next career move. But when he was looking out over the Peruvian landscape at the top of Machu Pichu, he had an ah-ha moment.
“That’s where things really clicked for me. I realized that this is what I wanted my life to be, I wanted to be able to travel and go where I wanted when I wanted. So I needed to figure out a way to do that,” said Graham. And figure it out he did.
When he got back to Canada he looked back to his days at Black Press, and found a way to optimize revenues for UsedEverywhere. He went to his former employer and pitched his idea.
“They liked it, but said they were not in a position to provide a retainer. So I told them I would implement it, and take a percentage of the increases. It was a no-risk situation, so of course they jumped on it,” he said.
In the first month revenues went up 10 per cent, and by month six they had doubled.
“So now I had a successful case study, and used that model with new clients.”
That was seven years ago. Today, MonetizeMore has more than 300 clients and 63 workers on the team. And for Graham, the best part about it is that he, as well as his 63 employees, have both time and location freedom.
“We’re digital nomads. So we’re not tied down by a location or set hours. We can work whenever, and from wherever we want. We each get to live the lifestyle that we want,” he said.
Graham rarely spends more than four months in the same place. And after his quick visit home to Golden for the holidays, he headed to Cape Town, South Africa.
“I’ll be based out of Cape Town for four months, and travel around Africa during that time. Africa is one place I haven’t been to yet,” he said.
Although no matter where he is in the world, he always makes it back home for Christmas.
“I’ve never missed a Golden Christmas,” he said.