At just 19 years old, entrepreneur Dirujan Sabesan has already worked with Tinchy Stryder, Trevor Nelson and MistaJam. Four years ago, with no formal training, Dirujan launched CreativeNerds UK, a creative agency focused on web design and social media strategy. He's since gone on to work closely with one of the UK’s most innovative media platforms, SB.TV, which was also set up by a young Londoner, one Jamal Edwards. It's this kind of attitude and determination that led SB.TV's managing director, Liam Tootill, to nominate Sabesan for the Dazed/Casio G-Shock Spirit of Toughness Award, which will see £5,000 go to an individual who has conquered obstacles in life to achieve success. The Award, which is voted for by the public, is still open for nominations – find out more HERE. We spoke to Sabesan...
There should never be an ultimate goal for what you want to achieve with your career. Never forget the passion – there will always be something to achieve every day
Dazed Digital: How did you discover you had a talent for design?
Dirujan Sabesan: I started creating MySpace layouts for local artists in my area, and eventually I had a bunch of people asking me to do theirs. I loved to explore the different ways in which you could modify elements to deliver some bespoke designs that others couldn't do. As time went on, I thought it was a great way to earn some pocket money.
DD: Having achieved so much so young, what else do you aspire to?
Dirujan Sabesan: There should never be an ultimate goal for what you want to achieve with your career. When I started messing about in Photoshop, I had no idea where that'd take me in a few years time, so I think all I aspire for is to succeed in everything I want to attempt. If I fail, I'll learn from the mistakes and be persistent in achieving what I want to attain. Never forget the passion – there will always be something to achieve every day.
DD: What has been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?
I was turned down at 4 out of the 5 universities I applied for, and that seriously came as a big hit to me, it was the last thing I was expecting and everywhere I went for interviews - I'd get a rejection. Bournemouth Arts Uni took a much better approach to how they picked their students and they were the only place that gave me an offer after sitting down and going through my portfolio with me.
During the summer I was considering what to do, and if I should really consider taking the Uni route, I went with it because I knew my parents wanted me to give it a go & because I didn't want to feel like I was going to miss out on what my friends would be enjoying. However the first few weeks gave me a different experience from what I was expecting & I seriously felt like I was going to be bored & unmotivated.
Trying to convince my parents that University wasn't the place for me, and actually coming back home and trying to plan out what I was going to do was a big challenge. I knew CreativeNerds was my passion, and I didn't want to let it slip after building it up for over four years. I don't think either of my parents are convinced yet that I have a good enough job to keep me stable. One day soon they'll change their minds I hope!
DD: Do you ever feel like you missed out by foregoing university?
Dirujan Sabesan: I don't think so. It's coming up to a year now since I decided not to go, and I seriously have no regrets about dropping out. I still have all my friends who go to uni so I can have that university social life with them when I want, but for me, having three years experience in the industry is way better than three years sitting in a class being taught how to be creative.
DD: What has it been like working with SB.TV?
Dirujan Sabesan: It’s an opportunity that a lot of people in the UK would want to have, and it has been a big eye-opener. It's taught me a lot about business, improved my communication skills and made me feel like I'm part of an ever-growing movement. I'm constantly learning; every day I pick up something new, and I'm constantly researching and finding ways to deliver the best digital media strategies for the UK's leading youth broadcaster.
Spirit of Toughness Award: If you know someone who has impressed you with their perseverance and determination then let us know – we will shortlist the best and the voting public will pick the recipient of the £5,000 prize money.