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Our Multicultural Journey
Nativa’s journey as a cross-cultural marketing agency began in December of 2008. Eric Diaz had recently graduated with an MBA from Northeastern University. Upon graduation, Eric and a classmate of his, Rosen Kotsev, created a small business known as DK Business Consulting. The idea was to provide expertise in three areas; marketing, logistics, and finance to small businesses (less than 10 people) in the Northeast and Midwest. Soon, however, they found the problem was that organizations of this size barely had enough money to run their own operations. As such, these companies were only interested in buying consultative services which would help them sell more. With this in mind, Eric and Rosen changed the company name to DK Web Consulting, going on to become a web design firm. Even with this change, however, the two of them could not avoid the global financial challenges which had come up during the late 2000s. After spending 2009 and half of 2010 toiling in the web design arena, both Eric and Rosen decided it was time to part ways. Keen to carry on, Eric bought out the investment Rosen had put into the business and DK Web Consulting became a company of one.
Natasha Joins the Team
Now on his own, Eric realized that DK Web Consulting would greatly benefit from increased expertise in business development. In particular, Eric sought to bring on someone with a different set of skills that would help build the company. At the same time, he had also been attending various events hosted by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Columbus, OH. These events enabled Hispanic business owners to meet one another as well as discuss their own operations. Eric found that he regularly encountered a fellow business owner named Natasha Pongonis at these events. Speaking with Natasha, they found that they both had small, modestly successful web design businesses. Open to see what collaboration opportunities could exist, the two of them decided to put their heads together and see what new ideas they could come up with for their respective businesses.
Starbucks in September
As the latter half of 2010 rolled around, Natasha and Eric had begun meeting outside of the events they attended at a Starbucks in the German Village section of Columbus. From these meetings, they concluded that they could pursue significantly bigger opportunities working together. Not long after, Eric got a call from another former Northeastern classmate and business owner who explained that he had a potential client which might be a good fit for DK. The potential client was a Barcelona radio station named Radio Gladys Palmera, which was looking for a marketing agency to provide them with Spanish social media services. With Natasha now on hand, the two of them collaborated on a pitch to the radio station for the bid. Though they would not be ultimately selected for the contract, both Natasha and Eric realized that they had come very close to winning even without significant experience in social media. From this experience, they decided to become a team to see if they could win future bids in social media marketing.
Parking Lot Entrepreneurs
Over the next several months, Natasha and Eric would meet in the parking lot of the company where Natasha was currently working full-time. From a shaded spot, they would pitch to clients who were looking to expand their reach on social media with a Spanish-speaking audience. In 2011, they finally tasted victory when Castrol Motor Oil chose DK Web Consulting to be responsible for fulfilling their Spanish-language social media requirements. While the contract was a significant boost to the company’s growth, they were just at the tip of the iceberg for what would become a boom of Spanish language marketing via social media platforms. In that same year Natasha and Eric became aware that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, (CDC), had been visiting several of the blogs offering free guidance found on the DK website. After determining who would be the right person to connect with at the international government agency, the DK team was welcomed to be part of the RFP (request for proposal) process to determine an agency to launch their social media campaigns in Spanish. By this time, the two of them had also created a new company to complement DK Web Consulting known as Social Media Spanish. After impressing the client during the pitch, the team was awarded the opportunity and launch their profiles which to this day are the largest U.S. federal government social media pages with over 200,000 followers between both Facebook and Twitter. This client was the largest catch that the two entrepreneurs had landed, and one which would guide the future of the company for the next few years.
Having had success with Castrol Motor Oil and the CDC, Natasha was now ready to join Eric full-time. By this point, social media was becoming increasingly commonplace in the world, and as such the competition intensified. Due to this, being dedicated to only social media was no longer a viable long-term option. Natasha and Eric knew it was time for Social Media Spanish to evolve into something greater. Out of this evolution came two new companies; Nativa, and O.Y.E. Business Intelligence. The two new companies would now work side by side to provide a multicultural approach to a wide array of needs for their clients.
Westward to Phoenix
With the company growing steadily, Eric and Natasha saw a chance to expand their business horizons beyond the Midwest. They eventually settled on a small office space in Phoenix, AZ. Going forward, Eric would move to Arizona and head the newly established Phoenix office while Natasha would take over operations for the Columbus office. Opening a western office would prove to be a smart move. Within the year they landed a major client for Nativa, Henkel, Inc., with whom Nativa nearly 10 years later still works on several of their large brands such as got2b. Nativa’s new Phoenix office would bring forth other notable clients in the western region including Arizona State University, Bar-S Foods, Disney, Fox Broadcasting as well as the Maricopa County Board of Elections.
Emergence of O.Y.E. Intelligence
In the latter half of the 2010s, O.Y.E. Business Intelligence came to be known as a data solution for large brands wanting to understand more about their diverse consumer base. The software platform was originated as a business concept in 2013 based on Nativa’s observation of the weaknesses found within standard social listening software for identifying multicultural audiences. Software of the time was simplistic in their identification and would only differentiate ethnicity between online users who spoke a language other than English in their posts. Nativa’s founders saw the obvious flaws in this thinking which perpetuated the inaccurate concept that all Hispanics speak Spanish. The Nativa team started working on a better system for identifying diverse conversations going on to win first prize in the $50,000 Start-Up Street Pitch Competition in Phoenix out of over 100 companies participating. In 2015, the O.Y.E. platform was commercially launched to segment and monitor real-time online multicultural conversations allowing clients to make educated business decisions and develop culturally relevant communications with hard-to-reach audiences. O.Y.E. today is proud to have worked with a diverse mix of well-known brands including Southwest Airlines, Disney, MassMutual, Big Lots, and many more.
In the Fall of 2019, one of Nativa’s biggest milestones in the company’s history transpired. Having thrown their hat in the federal bidding ring as a certified diverse 8a company by the SBA, Nativa won two important government contracts. One of the contracts was for the Ohio Army National Guard, and the other for the Ohio Air National Guard. These game-changing opportunities enabled Nativa to vastly expand its offerings into areas such as staff augmentation, talent acquisition, and much more. Today, Nativa has become a known partner for federal, state, and local government agencies that are seeking a unique perspective for their marketing objectives.
Nativa of Tomorrow
From these humble beginnings, the small two-person business has grown and evolved numerous times in order to adapt to the ever-changing business landscape that was encountered. Nativa’s endeavor to become a top cross-cultural marketing agency will not have a linear start nor finish. Rather, Nativa chooses to be flexible and responsive so as to readily take on the challenges which lay ahead.
All Nativa’s founders know for sure is that they will continue to change so as to best serve clients who want to engage authentically with their audiences.