When you meet Matt Brooks for the first time, you immediately notice his contagious, positive energy. Whether you run into him at his office at the trendy Loft 912 coworking space in Port Huron, or at an entrepreneurial startup event at a local brewery, you'll quickly be drawn in with his quick smile and hearty laugh.
Matt has good reason to smile. Not only is he the successful owner of multiple businesses, but he is also an entrepreneur with a passion for helping others achieve their goals. His enthusiasm for innovation and problem-solving overflows into every aspect of his robust life.
The school of hard knocks
But success wasn't just handed to him on a silver platter. The Marine City native had to actively seek it out. After graduating from Marine City High School, Brooks moved to St. Clair, where he began his career in sales and marketing. Surprisingly, he is mostly self-taught.
"It was kind of the school of hard knocks, as the saying goes. I ended up growing a couple other local entrepreneurs' businesses for the first decade of the 2000s," says Brooks. This lasted into the recession that would strike the country at the end of that first decade.
Juggling local and international 'chainsaws'
Inevitably, his entrepreneurial itch became too great, recession or no recession. In 2010, he set out on his own to pursue several ventures. Fast forward to today, and he has several irons in the fire, or as Matt likes to say, "I'm juggling a few different chainsaws."
He offers web development services under a few different brands: Continue Marketing and Advanced Ministries, both of which are business-to-business focused. He also has an online course company called The Marriage Group, which serves thousands of couples from all around the world.
Revitalizing Port Huron
A dynamic mind needs a dynamic place to work. Brooks recently launched a unique co-working, meeting, and event space called Loft 912, located in the downtown Desmond District of Port Huron.
The spacious Loft serves entrepreneurs who need a spot to work, and also offers the business community at large an out-of-the-box meeting and event space.
For entrepreneurs specifically, the Loft effectively removes the isolation of growing their businesses on their own. Walk amongst the custom convertible desks and sleek wood tables on any given day, and there's often a lively collaboration or problem-solving session in progress. Head to the nearby kitchen and you'll find a masterful collection of coffee sufficient to refuel even the most fatigued of entrepreneurial minds.
The Loft's vibrant meeting and event space has quickly become a popular hub of business activity within Port Huron. In any given month, there are a myriad of events happening at Loft 912, from educational workshops, to Chamber of Commerce events, to Ping Pong tournaments, to photo shoots…even movie nights!
Giving back: Building a sense of community
In 2016, to meet the unique challenges of the startup community, Brooks collaborated with a handful of coworkers at Loft 912 to form the Blue Water Startups.
"The idea is to celebrate the successes and share in the miseries of entrepreneurism with other local startups in our area and build a sense of community," Brooks says with a grin.
Any startup business owner will tell you that the process of launching their "baby" from the ground up can be an isolating and often lonely struggle, especially with the unique challenges required to get things off the ground.
Blue Water Startups is both a community and a resource center for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. With monthly meetups, it essentially helps connect like-minded entrepreneurs in the area with others who "get" what they are going through.
A drive that can't be contained
With his positive mindset and genuine heart for the community, Matt says he likes to solve problems and find opportunities. In fact, a large part of his success has been his knack for finding the path of success within niche markets.
"When I've got a vision to do something, I like to attack it. I like to go at it. I like to be creative in figuring out where's the opportunity within the opportunity, and finding the niche within the niche."
In addition, he says learning about other people's needs and pain points often leads to opportunity.
"If you can solve people's pain, there's usually people that will pay for that," advises Brooks.
A mindset of success
His business life isn't just a hobby; it's a mindset. So much so that he admits he has a hard time taking off his entrepreneur's hat.
"I think that in the life of entrepreneurism, there's no off time. There's only times where you pretend that it's off," he says with his hearty laugh.
"I'm constantly thinking about the businesses and what is the next step and are we on the right track with the strategies that we have in place to keep on the right path."
Combine positivity with creativity, persistence, and a healthy dose of curiosity, and you get entrepreneur Matt Brooks.
Chamira Young is The Keel's lead photographer and the owner of Chamira Studios in Port Huron.