Interview with Justin Breen, Founder of BrEpic Communications LLC
The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.
Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!
Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.
Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Tell me about your education?
I graduated from Glenbrook North High School and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For the last several years, I have been the Journalism Chair for the College of Media Alumni Board.
Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?
My father, Mike, died when I was 13 but before he passed away, he taught me the value of hard work and being kind to people. He was always nice to everyone, and that rubbed off on me.
We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?
A few of my clients stand out. Dr. Andrew Campbell, the founder of Quintessa Aesthetic Center — a plastic surgery practice — has a great entrepreneurial mind. I am extremely impressed by how he thinks big and takes chances. Also, client Cortlon Cofield, founder of the financial planning firm Cofield Advisors, has overcome a lot in his life and is a tremendous success story.
I also recently met with Spikeball founder Chris Ruder. He is an incredible American Dream success, and the drive he displays on a daily basis in an excellent example for entrepreneurs like me who are relatively new in the business world.
Also, Shalom Klein is one of the best entrepreneurs I know. He is exceptionally well connected, always responds to inquiries and emails immediately and is a valued, trusted friend. He helps countless people without ever asking for anything in return.
Collin Corbett, the founder of Cor Strategies, is an outstanding entrepreneur, leader, critical thinker, communicator, and networker. He has been a wonderful mentor and someone I look up to considerably.
Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.
What is the name of your company?
BrEpic Communications LLC
Where is your company located?
What services or products does your organization provide?
My PR firm writes clicky, newsworthy stories for its clients and pitches them to mainstream media across the country. BrEpic has run PR campaigns for clients including Allstate, University of Illinois, White Lodging, The Salvation Army, McCormick Foundation, LISC Chicago, The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Burwood Group, Bottom Line Chicago, and many more.
What problem is your business trying to solve?
Most businesses don’t know what types of stories media wants to cover, so they reach out to BrEpic to gain exposure on a local, regional and national level. From being a journalist for more than 20 years, my brain is tuned to what makes for a great story, what media cares about, and what the general public will take time out of their business schedules to watch, read or listen is.
How is your business unique against your competitors?
I developed BrEpic’s model based on public relations firms failing me when I was a journalist for the previous 20-plus years, regarding lack of personal relationships and sending bulk press releases that weren’t interesting. BrEpic creates real stories for its clients and pitches them to valued media contacts in a far more strategic way. The beauty of BrEpic is it works for any business or brand.
How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
My wife surprised me for my 40th birthday trip in April 2017 with a mini-vacation to Kohler, Wisconsin. On the drive up, I thought it would be neat to start a PR business and call it BrEpic. For the next two months, I reached out to 5,000-plus contacts to find my first five clients. It was a tough, slow start, but BrEpic’s growth has been incredible, and it’s been incredible to help so many businesses and brands increase their exposure to the public on a national level. I tell people all the time that I am living The American Dream, but it really is true.
Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?
Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.
What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
01. Focus on what you like to do and what you’re best at. The biggest reason for BrEpic’s success is it has a very streamlined model for its approach to PR.
02. Have a great support system and know your priorities. My wife, Sarah, is my best friend and the person who helps me the most with BrEpic. We have two sons — Jake, 5, and Chase, 4 — and the best part of BrEpic is that I get to spend a ton of time with them because of a very flexible schedule. I’ve also built a very trusted network of high-level entrepreneurs to discuss ideas and learn from.
03. Every day is a chance to better yourself and your business. Also, mistakes are fine as long as you learn from them.