At 17, Kevin Leyes wanted to study Computer Engineering at the National University of La Matanza but, when he couldn’t make it through a math class, decided to rethink several points of his journey.
Fortunately, that didn’t stop him from building a million-dollar, one-person business. Before he left school, he founded VVS (also known as Team Leyes), an online jewelry store, from his room in Pontevedra, Argentina in December 2017—and discovered his calling as an entrepreneur.
Leyes started designing and selling jewelry, and after a few years, he became one of the most famous jewelers in Argentina, working with many artists and celebrities such as Khea, Ecko, and Alex Caniggia.
Now the 22-year-old, based in Miami, is fully focused on his venture founded back in 2019: Leyes Media, one of America’s leading PR and marketing firms. In his role as the CEO of Leyes Media, he has helped countless new businesses find their feet fast and accelerate their development.
“I would rather work than go to class,” he says. “I’d literally skip class to work on the business.”
Today, Leyes Media brings in $3 million in revenue a year and is profitable, according to Leyes. “The United States has granted me an extraordinary talent visa based on the trajectory of my business career, my awards and recognitions, and commercial success, which makes me very happy and motivates me to move forward,” he says.
Kevin Leyes amasses now a huge following of almost 8 million followers only on Instagram, he clearly excels in his field and is considered a leader in the US for his record of achievements. He is part of an exciting trend: the growth of million-dollar, one-person businesses.
The number of entrepreneurs bringing in $1 million to $2.49 million a year in nonemployer firms—those staffed only by the owners— hit 36,984 in 2017, according to the most recent Census data available, up 38% from 26,744 in 2011. It is a trend fueled by the availability of low-cost technology like e-commerce stores and social media.
So how did Leyes build his business to $1 million at an age many people are still figuring out what they want to do for a living? He recently shared his story with me.
Add value and solve problems. “It is often said that those who solve the most problems for society are those who are best rewarded financially. Ask yourself, how big is the value you are bringing to your clients with your products or services? In what ways could you increase this, or do it better?,” he says.
This is how Leyes decided to create a methodology and action plan to present to each of his clients, first presenting them with the problems that each business currently has without the presence of his agency to generate a need by then showing them how much value he can bring them later, or what benefits they would get by hiring the services they provide.
Focus on building long-term business relationships. The phrase “your net worth is your network” is very common in recent years, and behind it there is a great truth according to Leyes.
“Within the marketing and social media industry, it’s all about relationships and networking. If you are looking to thrive, you must focus on building strong relationships and partnering with people in the industry rather than competing. On the other hand, it’s often preferable to make less money but generate clients who are loyal to your brand and your agency and will stay with you for a long time,” he says.
Build a strong portfolio of clients and testimonials. By asking the clients he worked with to show images of them on their Instagram feed and website, Leyes was able to spread the word quickly about his services to their audiences and build his brand’s own Instagram following, which currently includes 1.7 million people.
“One of the main sources of clients we have is through recommendations from our existing customers, so giving importance to deliver quality services and helping and guiding our clients pays off later. It has also helped us to have renowned and well-known clients associated with our agency since there are many new clients who trust us and give them that missing push to decide to choose us and work with us,” he says.
Leyes figured out how to work with world-class brands and top talents—who today include Icebox, MPH Club, HighKey Clout, Frank Khalid, Devon Rodriguez, and many others—through trial and error.
Prepare mentally to pay the price for success. It hasn’t always been easy, says Leyes. “Many people see success as easy and quick because of what they see on social media, but that is never the case. Sleepless nights, anxiety and stress, burnout, insecurities, doubts about the future, and overworking are just some of the things nobody talks about when scaling and leveling up. You’ve got to sacrifice the first year or two and really grind it out. But I can assure you something: no matter where you come from or how old you are, you can end up building great things if you put in the effort and perseverance,” he says.
He assures us that he has gone through and still goes through many challenges and difficult situations but in spite of everything he is happy with his decision to focus 100% on his business. “I have moved to the country of my dreams, where many just vacation, to keep progressing and growing not only financially but also as a person and meeting brilliant people. Here I am at peace and I live without fears and uncertainty,” he says.
He can’t complain, that’s a nice place to be at age 22. And he’s just getting started.