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College Student Heads Award-winning Business

In the Bay area we’re used to hearing about 20-somethings starting their own tech companies. Adam Swart is blazing a different trail.

Adam Swart (right) talking with a client.
Adam Swart (right) talking with a client.
About this sponsorship: In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Mount Everest, Patch and Grape-Nuts are teaming up to highlight those who inspire people around them to climb their own mountains.

Written by Beatrice Karnes

Climbing the mountain of success is a steep ascent for any young adult.

It’s been an especially tough trek for new college graduates since the beginning of the Great Recession. The avalanche of unemployment obliterated well-worn paths to jobs, forcing graduates into prolonged job searches or positions all-wrong for their education.

Adam Swart, who grew up in Palo Alto, wasn’t going to let that happen to him.

He’s started his own business, Crowds on Demand, while still a student at UCLA.

His idea is unique—make clients feel like A-list celebrities complete with paparazzi, security and a fawning crowd. He was struck by inspiration while on a trip, “I was getting off the plane in Estonia and I noticed some VIPs getting a hero's welcome at the airport,” said Swart. “Then I realized, I had no idea who they were! I just assumed that they were extremely important. So, I got to thinking, why can't there be a business that allows everybody to experience what it's like to be treated like a celebrity.”

Who would hire such a business?

To start with, B-list celebrities hoping to make it onto the A-list.

If Crowds on Demand can cause a stir in the right setting, real paparazzi will turn their lenses on the client.

Lately though, tourists trying to experience Hollywood like a movie star have discovered the company.

According to Swart, “We were rated by China's exclusive Shanghai Travelers Club as the ‘World's Best Luxury Lifestyle Experience of 2013.’ The award is a testament to the fact that we work with clients from start to finish to plan experiences of a lifetime.”

‘World’s Best’—not bad considering the company is still a startup, having been founded in October 2012. For such a young company, it’s already operating in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Las Vegas, New York, and Washington D.C.

Crowds on Demand also considers requests for special events in other cities.

The Bay Area—really? Turns out that the star treatment works in the business world as well.

“Our business in the Bay Area has been almost exclusively from corporate clients—from start-ups and PR firms,” Swart replies. “One client said that sales increased 500% after we conducted a publicity stunt for them at a conference…When they are timed and placed strategically, they get clients noticed by the right audiences and in turn deliver strong results.”

Now 22, Swart says that he still has a year left before earning his degree. “It turns out I couldn’t take a full class load while running a business full-time.” Then added, “Who would’ve thought!”

Although he lives in Los Angeles, Swart is frequently in the Bay Area to visit family and tend to his business.

While Swart is racing to the summit of success, he pauses long enough to make sure that other students or recent grads can follow his path to start their own companies. “First, try to test the waters as far as demand is concerned. This is particularly important if you’re starting a capital intensive business. Second, start a business that you understand and enjoy. Don’t do it just because everybody else is starting something.”

An award-winning company at the age of 22. Make note of the name: Adam Swart.

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