Just three years after graduating from William & Mary, economics major Joe Laresca ’15 founded Noise, a full-service creative agency and venture studio that has attracted such high-profile clients as Nick Jonas, Kanye West, beverage producer Diageo and development company Extell. This year, he made it onto Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.
How did success like that happen so fast?
“Brute force,” he says, laughing. “Lots of cold outreach and hearing ‘no’ over 1,000 times.”
Although it might look that way, things didn’t fall into place overnight. While Laresca, 29, founded Noise within three years of graduating from William & Mary, he did face challenges shortly into his post-grad life. For two years, he felt stuck in a mix of applying to jobs, working on projects, and constantly thinking of what to do next.
“Nothing was really working,” he explains. Laresca describes this point of his life as being on an “emotional roller coaster” depending on whether he received good news or bad news about his work.
Tired of being controlled by outside factors, he decided to completely change his mindset. Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s book "This Is Water," Laresca began trying to change his perception of life by being in control of how and what he thought about. According to Wallace, to give meaning to your life, you must consciously control how you perceive life.
“I would start every day by writing ‘go’ on my wrist,” Laresca explains, “as a reminder that no matter what happens, I’m not waiting for a game-changing moment. I decided that whether I heard really good news, no news at all, or really bad news that it would just be news. And it didn’t really matter.”
Three months later, Noise was born. After 56 emails from Laresca, "Million Dollar Listing New York" star and Serhant CEO Ryan Serhant became the company's first high-profile client, an opportunity Laresca recalls as a launching pad for Noise.
“Noise isn’t just another agency,” Laresca explains, adding that the company handles strategy, social, production, creative services and more. “Our role really isn’t just to make a great ad campaign, it’s to help companies become more influential and of course, make noise.”
“A lot of agencies just send copy-and-paste proposals and have their copy-and-paste approach to strategy or consulting,” Laresca continues. “But at Noise, every company is different, and so they should have a very different plan than the one that came before it.”
Currently, his focus is working on the longevity of the company: “How do I get Noise to be around for 100-plus years, for 1,000-plus years, respected as an iconic brand? I want to create a generational impact.”
Looking forward, Laresca hopes for Noise to be recognized as one of the most influential Latin-owned companies. The son of a single mother from Ecuador who immigrated to the United States at age 16, Laresca is a first-generation university graduate.
“I owe her quite literally everything,” he says of his mother, who worked three jobs to support him and his brother while also learning to speak English. “I always say that it’s from her that I get my entrepreneurial spirit. I was able to see her do the impossible every day. It’s where I was able to see what it means to not be afraid of risk, and make something out of nothing, always.”
Originally planning to join William & Mary's football or baseball team, Laresca sustained an injury that left him unable to play. However, coming to the university from his home in Staten Island, New York, Laresca appreciated the beauty, academics and energy that the campus had, and he decided to stay. An economics major with an interest in theater, computer science and writing, Laresca remembers one economics professor who was particularly influential, Chancellor Professor of Economics Robert Archibald.
“I really loved Professor Archibald because of the way he made me feel,” Laresca recalls. “On graduation day, he handed me my diploma, and he whispered in my ear, ‘I know this was really tough'” — speaking of the 19 credits Laresca had to complete in his last semester — "'but I know you’re going to be really special, and one day you’re going to be at this podium giving a speech.’”
“One of the biggest things anyone can have in their life is someone who believes in them,” Laresca says.
Upon learning of Laresca’s accomplishments since graduation, Archibald comments, “I am not surprised Joe is incredibly successful. He was always busy. I think he had the ability to keep more balls in the air than any student I knew.”
Aside from his business ventures, Laresca also has tried his hand at the music industry. Performing under the name Santi, he released his first single, "Tu y Yo," in February. Laresca was already familiar with performing, since one of his favorite memories at William & Mary involved starting a band.
"It was called Pillow Talk, and I performed my senior year with some of my best friends, and it was one of my most fun experiences in college," he says.
Laresca offers this advice to current William & Mary students: “Do as much as you can, try a lot of things, and don’t be afraid to fail and embarrass yourself sometimes, because that’s how you figure out what you really love.”