Entrepreneur. Entertainment Professional. Co-CEO.
Steven Gagnon is the Co-CEO of Los Angeles-based Element Media Group, as well as a lifelong entrepreneur and businessman. Before becoming involved in the entertainment industry, he pursued a career surrounding marine biology and his profound love for the ocean. He attended Roger Williams University, where he obtained a degree in Marine Biology, and, later, the Professional Deep Sea Divers School in City Island, New York.
As a gifted athlete, Steven was offered two scholarships in both hockey and soccer. However, he turned down both scholarships and opted to enroll in Roger Williams University because of their renowned undergraduate Marine Biology program. In his third year of college, he had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad working as a deckhand and research student, conducting his undergraduate thesis on the migration of the humpback whales during their Southern migration and mating season in the Silver and Navidad Banks. His experience on that ship forever cemented his love for the ocean.
Steven Gagnon is a licensed captain who has worked on offshore support ships, deep sea diving vessels, Tall Ships, and other marine vessels that operated in both intercoastal waterways and oceans from the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea. To this day, he is an avid boater, loves sailboat racing, and is forever grateful for his time far from the hustle and bustle on the land.
Steven’s early career led him to International Underwater Contractors as a project supervisor. The company, known for their famous Board of Directors, consisting of Andre Galerne (whom Steven reported to) and Jaques Cousteau, and their salvage of the RMS Republic. The RMS Republic was built at the famous Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast in 1909 while sailing for the famous White Star Line (a.k.a. The Titanic). There, Steven worked around the world on Deep Sea Salvage, Marine Construction, Offshore Oil Support, and Deep Sea inspection. Years later, Steven Gagnon was able to team up with his family, fostering his love for the ocean, by opening a string of boatyards and marinas up and down the east coast in Connecticut and Florida.
In 1995, he and his family closed their marina businesses when Steven accepted a position with Madison Sports and Entertainment, a publicly-traded company. Later, he was promoted to President of the Sports Division and was instrumental in the roll-out of small to mid-sized snowboarding brands and extreme sports products. While there, he realized there was a unique marketing opportunity—extreme sports were a highly stylish medium for videos and music videos.
He spearheaded one of the first outdoor “Big Air” snowboard events hosted in the Super Bowl media village in South Florida. The company built a snowboard ramp and quarter pipe and deployed real snow in 80-degree temperatures. The event had some of the top names of the times for snowboarding at the height of the infancy of the sport. The following year, he built the project again in Buenos Aires Argentina for the owners of Bariloche Ski Resort inside a major event in downtown BA. Once again, he brought in top-flight snowboards from around the world to compete in this unique in-door event.
In 1999, several years after leaving Madison Sports and Entertainment, Steven Gagnon was looking to continue building on his sports and media theme and found a property to build a studio. His first project was not by design rather fate as a film project came into the market needing a location. The film’s producer’s funding was delayed by the foreign distributor and that opportunity was the start of Mr. Gagnon’s headlong plunge into the media business. His career move proved successful. While developing his first film projects, his companies produced successful and award-winning commercials and music videos.
To Steven, who has worked on at least 25 companies and has consulted young entrepreneurs on many startups, the ability to start something from scratch and watch it grow produces a feeling of pride that is entirely incomparable. The opportunity to see a business develop from one employee into multiple jobs and watching a client base expand represents, for Steven Gagnon, what America stands for. Here, the sky’s truly the limit. It is for this very reason that he felt so connected to the entertainment industry—the process of developing, creating, and bringing stories to fruition furthers the ideals of entrepreneurship he holds so dear.
With his involvement in more than a handful of companies, Steven admits that the biggest lesson entrepreneurs need to learn is that you can’t be afraid to fail. Without failure, learning, expanding, and succeeding isn’t possible. For new entrepreneurs, who constantly hear the success stories of unicorn startups, failure doesn’t seem like an option or a bump in the road. However, when Steven Gagnon began his career in the eighties, instant success like the kind you see today just wasn’t possible. For new businesses, profitability wasn’t expected until five years down the road. While immediate success is possible for some, it shouldn’t be accepted, and failure should be embraced, accepted, and a lesson learned.
Decades into his career, Steven has learned from his previous business mistakes and missteps—the kinds of mistakes one learns through trial and error, rather than in books or well-crafted business plans. As the Co-CEO of Element Media Group, founded in 2012, he understands that creating something great takes time. The company, which is a subsidiary of Element Global Inc., acquires, develops, finances, produces, and distributes television, film, and broadway products. Now, years since Element Media Group was established, he is hopeful their entrance into the marketplace will make a splash. They have acquired top industry talent and analyzed media trends to ensure their tactics lead to success.
To learn more about Steven Gagnon and his view into the world of entrepreneurship, be sure to check out his blog!