Meet Jonathan Rabb The CEO of WatchTheYard
For many college campuses, the yard is where everything goes down. It’s more than just the central spot on campus and acts as the glue that holds everything together. There you can find out the latest campus gossip, learn the move for that night, or see Greeks stroll’n on the green. The yard on a college campus is a place of inclusivity, uniting college students together regardless of their gender, sexuality, or race. As amazing as this central location can be, it still has its limitations, only allowing us to stay informed with what is happening on our own perspective campuses. Thankfully, Jonathan Rabb came up with the brilliant idea to take the concept of “the yard” and turned it into an online platform, creating WatchTheYard.com. Watch The Yard is a place where college students, specifically black greek members, can go to find out what’s happening not only on our college campuses but also within the black community. According to Jonathan Rabb “Watch The Yard gives black students and black fraternity and sorority members a platform to celebrate each other’s accomplishments, push for social change, encourage each other and teach others about our deep and rich history. The website has digitalized the concept of the yard and has the largest digital collection of media related to Black Greekdom in the world. Our journalists take pride in the culture of Black Greekdom and African-American history and we are giving our people a place to share pride in one another and encourage younger generations.”
I had the opportunity to speak with Jonathan and learn more about his website and the journey it took to build his brand.
Twila-Amoure: Where did you attend college and how was your experience there?
Jonathan: [I attended the] University of Minnesota. [My experience there] was extremely transformative and empowering. I was really into my books and graduated with honors and a 3.89. While I did study A LOT, the biggest lessons I got out of undergrad came from immersing myself in various student groups including the Black Student Union, becoming a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and studying abroad twice. The community that I became a part of helped create and nurtured with the rest of the Black students at my university, helped shape me into who I am today.
Twila-Amoure: If given the chance, what advice would you give the college you?
Jonathan: [To] enjoy college and live in the moment, but also plan what you are going to do once you leave college. I had a job when I left college as a TV host for The CW, but many of my classmates struggled because they did not prepare for their first year out. My advice would have been to help more of my friends get on the same page with internships and jobs during school that actually helped propel them forward once they graduated. That first year after college is a very important year and greatly affects your trajectory. It helps to have a plan.
Twila-Amoure: What sparked the idea for Watch the Yard?
Jonathan: I did a Fulbright Grant in Germany that focused on digital audience development. I realized that there was no place for Black fraternity and sorority members like myself to convene and share ideas online, so I decided to create that space myself– a space that preserves and promotes the culture while leveraging our community for social good. My intention was to digitalize the concept of “The Yard” so that instead of having isolated physical yards on every campus, we would also have an online platform to celebrate each other’s’ achievements, push the culture forward, and document our rich history.
Twila-Amoure: Did you ever deal with any self-doubt (or doubt from others) during the beginning stages of launching Watch The Yard?
Jonathan: I know it sounds weird, but I never doubted that Watch The Yard would excel. Many people told me that Black fraternities and sororities were too niche of an audience to go after, but they didn’t truly understand the broad reach, history and influence these organizations and their members have across the African diaspora. All I have to do is show them the website’s numbers and engagement. Numbers don’t lie. But it’s not just about how many people are engaged with Watch The Yard, it is about WHO is engaged with Watch The Yard. The platform attracts intergenerational audience of college-educated Black doctors, educators, artists, lawyers, coaches, and entrepreneurs who have dedicated themselves to a greater good and the betterment of their communities.
Twila-Amoure: What are some of the steps you took in order to build such a large following?
Jonathan: I listened to my audience. This platform is about the community and not about me. I strive to reflect our collective experience and what the international Black greek community cares about. We take the time to respond to emails, DMs, and comments. People want to be heard. If you show them you are listening, you will go very far. Don’t make this about yourself, make it about your audience.
Twila-Amoure: What advice would you offer someone who is looking to launch their own website?
Jonathan: Stop thinking and start doing. You have to be consistent and you have to begin somewhere. Get started and keep grinding away at it until it works. No one starts with a perfect product.
Twila-Amoure: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far being an entrepreneur?
Jonathan: You have to be passionate about what you do. This is your lane you are creating and if you don’t believe in yourself and your product, you can’t expect anyone else to.
In addition to all the people who supports the Watch The Yard website, Jonathan has also managed to build a large social media following for his company as well. Currently Watch The Yard has over 178k IG followers, over 24k followers on Twitter, and, over 72k followers on their Facebook page. Because of Jonathan’s creativity and ability to follow his dreams, black college students worldwide now have a central place to call home.
If you’re looking for a chance to meet Jonathan in person and learn more about how he built his empire then be sure to buy your ticket for CampusLatley’s First Annual Black Collegiate Marketing Conference where he will be speaking!
Keep up with all things related to Watch The Yard:
Jonathan’s personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jonathanrabb/
Twila-Amoure McDaniel43 Posts
Twila-Amoure McDaniel is a college student who is majoring in both communications and film studies. When she isn't in class she is more than likely somewhere making videos for her YouTube channel. Her passions include writing, art, and film-making and she currently has plans on going into the film industry. Twila-Amoure does have crohn's disease, however she is very determined not to allow that to stop her from achieving all of her goals in life. Be sure to follow her on all on her social media platforms @TwilaAmoure and feel free to browse through Campus Lately for more of her work.