Youtech’s Wilbur You, ’13, Given NIUAA Alumni Achievement in the Arts Award
By Eva Richards
Not every entrepreneur makes it in global business headlines before they are 30 years old, but Wilbur You is not your average entrepreneur.
His drive for success began before he even left the NIU campus, where he studied computer science and started his own marketing firm during his senior year. That same company—Youtech, a full-service marketing agency, based in Naperville, Illinois, and Scottsdale, Arizona, and a new office in Dallas, Texas—has grown on average 80% year-over-year for the past three years, from its initial investment of $600 to be valued at more than $50 million this year.
It was this skyrocketing growth that caught Forbes’ attention when the magazine named him to their “30 Under 30” in 2020. And it is for these successes, and more, that the NIU Alumni Association has awarded You this year's Alumni Achievement in the Arts Award.
“Since being named in Forbes’ ‘30 Under 30,’ my life has changed quite a bit,” You said. “My business grew over 100% that year, and I feel as though I’m much more credible than before. Forbes gives a great platform to highlight up-and-coming stars, and it’s such a great thing to add to my resume. Businesses respect the accolade a lot, so it helps me secure better and bigger relationships. I think it ultimately expedited a lot of time for me overall. (It’s) still one of the best moments of my life.”
With all this momentum, You expects more expansion on the horizon.
“I think we are continuing to grow and expand our service offerings throughout the world,” he said. “We have now started to pick up a lot of international businesses, as well. I think, in the next few years, our next office location would be in Europe somewhere.”
You has always had a grand business vision. When he was a junior at NIU, he got a job as a marketing coordinator in Chicago at American Invsco, one of the largest condominium developers in Chicago at that time. When Invsco’s outsourced web management company fell short of expectations, You’s boss asked him to develop a site for them. When You excelled at the task, he was offered a full-time marketing director position.
“I didn’t take it because it was full-time, and school was my number-one priority,” he said. “Plus, I wanted to start my own company. When I started Youtech my senior year, I called (my boss) and told them about the business, and Invsco actually became my first client.”
An all-in work ethic was something You had seen from an early age, as he observed his family members, who were Chinese immigrants, building their careers and livelihoods against significant odds.
“For me, I saw the struggles of my mom coming here (from China), my grandpa coming here (from China), the struggles of being an immigrant, and not knowing the language,” You said. “My mom worked at Baskin Robbins while she went to college. She is now an accounting manager and has an accounting degree and an M.B.A., but we did not have a lot of money growing up. My dad taught me how to socialize with people, how to be American and I got the best of both worlds. I think, oftentimes, immigrants very much appreciate the opportunities that are at hand, and so we keep our heads down, we work hard, we study hard, and we appreciate everything that we get and live this ‘American Dream.’”
With this unique perspective, You enjoys his success each day.
“Honestly, I love everything that comes with my job,” he said. “There is a lot of stress daily, but it has made me who I am today, and I wouldn’t trade anything away. The best part of my job, though, is the relationships I create with employees and clients. I like to see them grow in their careers, their businesses and really become successful and happy in what they are doing. I always say my job is to connect the dots, and I help people do that.”
Even with the many accolades he has received in recent years, the NIUAA Alumni Achievement in the Arts Award carries special meaning for You.
“I’m very grateful for this award from NIU and for being selected,” he said. “I always took pride in my education, and it’s humbling to know that I was selected by NIU for this award. I was never the smartest kid in class, but it just shows I was able to take what I learned and apply it to the real world. I’m proud to be a Huskie, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, honestly. The diversity and the people of NIU are what makes that place so special.
“I promise to continue to work hard, be the best version of myself and to always remember the people and institutions that have helped me get to where I am today.”