How to be taken seriously as a young agency founder

Dash agency's Christian Lunny on persuading waffling clients

Twenty-year-old Christian Lunny was in high school when he co-founded ad agency Dash with high school classmate David Bell, so he’s had to learn to quash concerns about his age and experience. (Lunny and Bell were named to Marketing‘s 30 Under 30 list in 2015.)

Here’s how he responds when a client is waffling:

“The past two or three years really have been an uphill battle, because we’ve had to combat what I would describe as a lack of trust on the part of some clients and investors. Trust was the number one thing missing until we had a more established company and brand, and started to hire people that were significantly older. That’s when we really began to notice a substantial difference in how people were treating us. People seem much more open-minded when the paradigm of ‘oh, this person is just a young entrepreneur’ is supported by some grey-haired experience.

“When people didn’t necessarily trust us because of our age, we combated that with value. They would say, ‘Well, we don’t know if this relationship will result in us growing our business,’ and we would say, ‘Yes, it will—here is what we’re going to be able to provide.’ For instance, instead of taking their requests and building a quote, we would dive deep within their company to figure out how we could build a product that would translate into real-world business value. And we worked incredibly hard to provide the best service possible, so that whenever the conversation turned to trust, we would then be able to clearly state the value we could provide. We would say, ‘You are obviously risking money by choosing our less traditional company, but we can assure you we are going to add tremendous value, and here’s how.'”

“Sitting here with the client list we have today [Dash customers include Aveda Canada and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights]—it definitely did get people to trust us. And once you have that experience, you can focus less on the value sale.”

This article originally appeared at

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