Driven Society's Travis Weekes: Creating Cultural Impact in the Age of COVID
For Co-Founder and CEO of Driven Society, Travis Weekes, building a foundation that values a community-driven approach was the best decision he made when creating his company. An approach, which results became more apparent during the pandemic, pressured many to pivot their businesses. A product of New York City, New Jersey, and Barbados, Travis grew up watching others work, come together, and when it came to his grandfather, lead. “He facilitated my life with God,” Travis said about his grandfather. “He was a preacher, a plumber, a barber. He did everything. I’ve seen him help so many people in the community, without asking for anything in return. I think that is what gave me my leadership skills. That is what gave me the audacity to want to be a community builder,” he gloats. And that audacity is what has set Driven Society apart. What began as a music blog has transformed over the years into a marketing agency that represents ideas steeped in culture.
Billed as a cultural innovator, the former mortgage broker deems Driven Society as his second act. “My first dream was to be in real estate, but that did not fill a void,” Weekes explains. At that time, the music connoisseur in him wanted to give a platform for music artists to get exposure digitally. “One year, I wanted to do a show with all the artists we featured on the blog. After the showcase, I remember the feeling the artists felt, being so thankful. The feeling I felt was priceless.” Travis talks about the beginning, “I could not ignore that feeling. I wanted to design my career around this feeling.” Like most creatives, it's that feeling that drives what they do. Because of those showcases, Travis realized that there were agencies willing to pay to be a part of the experiences he cultivated, and a part of the culture he was in. “A light bulb went off. I wanted to build an agency. I wanted to be the conduit that said if any of these agencies, these corporations, these brands... if you want to reach this audience, you have to go through me. Let us develop the cultural campaign strategies, and watch how that affects your bottom line.” And that is how Driven Society was born. From a showcase series to the premier platform for companies and brands to be a part of our communities and not just sell to us.
Being steeped in cultural ideas is one thing, being a vessel for those with ideas and allowing them to shine, and being a tool for them to enhance their careers is another. Travis has taken pride in being that vessel. Present day, Driven Society has established marketplaces for Black-owned businesses, and partnerships that allow creatives to be exposed to big corporations and brands. Weekes' desire to watch others grow is him leaning into his purpose. “My spirit reacted in pure joy during that first showcase. It was important for me to lean into that. My purpose was clear,” he describes.
Even living in his bliss, Travis recognizes the hard work that comes with walking in your purpose and creating a business. And with the pandemic putting a halt to many businesses, some of the roads ahead have become less smooth, but still, Driven Society’s mission remains the same; building community for the advancement of our communities. African Americans are said to have 1.3 trillion in buying power. As he builds, Travis has seen up close in personal the power of the Black dollar. With how we spend our money and where we spend our money, from buying the latest Birkin bag or the latest exotic car, there is a close eye on how Black people choose to splurge. What Driven Society has done is ensure that money is also used to support Black-owned businesses, and in turn, build wealth in our communities. “It has to become a habit… it has to become a rhythm,” Weekes explains how to keep Black-owned businesses in mind when we spend. “It has to be something that is consistently conversed amongst your group. The more we continue to push that, we will see the rise of the Black business. The rise of the Black community,” he concludes.
Through Driven Society’s live events, interactive marketplace, and strategic partnerships, the platform has been able to create meaningful impact, which has allowed them to build a financial ecosystem; a system that works on the power of collaboration, and a community that helps uplift both systems. “These systems lead us to our success because it is authentic to our core,” Travis explains. “Whatever is true to you, the universe will respond.” And that response has been overwhelmingly positive, and now is the time when Travis will have to lean on those systems that have helped build community in order to overcome the next set of challenges for Driven Society as we approach a new normal.
With live events being one of the first to be cut during COVID, Driven Society’s focus on their upcoming schedule had to pivot. There would be no Bermuda trip for the community to come together to hear speakers, experience a marketplace filled with Black-owned businesses, and a backdrop of what the tropics offer. What that challenge did allow was for Weekes and his team to develop its newly formed talent management and consultancy arm of the company, which has them strategically working with creatives in their network in a long-term capacity. “We’ve also launched our content development arm, both staying true to the authenticity that makes us Driven Society.” Travis proclaims.
As we move to the new normal, Travis believes that marketing and branding fundamentally will stay the same, but corporations and brands have to now adapt to “emotional and engaging content in order to cut through the noise,” Travis says. “The collaborations with creatives will have to be deeper.” He also believes that Driven Society will become the uber of this new marketplace. The work will remain the same, being the company that is an extension of inspiration and creating cultural impact.
Check out the video interview.