Nativa taps into region's startup-friendly resources to develop OYE! tool

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO
Natasha Pongonis

Maybe timing isn't everything, but it can be advantageous.

Natasha Pongonis, co-founder of Nativa, a communications agency focused on the Hispanic market, believes the timing of the 2010 U.S. census helped create awareness for her new company. The census reported a large increase in the Hispanic population to 50.5 million, more than 16 percent of the total populace.

"Nativa not only had the experience needed to create culturally relevant campaigns, but we also represented the target demographic that was becoming very appealing to our new clients, ranging from federal government agencies to consumer goods," Pongonis says.

Nativa uses digital communications, online advertising and culturally relevant content creation to help its clients market products and events. The company also provides traditional marketing services by partnering with other specialized agencies.

The company has grown and expanded since its inception, now employing nine people and adding locations in Phoenix in 2012 and this year opening another office in Guadalajara, Mexico.

"As a multicultural marketing agency, it is important for us to have a presence on both coasts of the United States and Mexico, since a considerable number of Hispanics living in the U.S. are of Mexican descent," Pongonis says. "In my opinion, the key to keep relevant in the business is to be able to evolve with the market and to seize the new opportunities to grow."

While the company has spread its wings geographically, it's also found many advantages to being headquartered in the Columbus Region. Pongonis attributes location as the reason Nativa was able to create OYE! in 2013, a "business intelligence tool" that gives companies unique insights into online Spanish and Spanglish conversations.

OYE! tracks, subdivides and monitors real-time online conversations to help clients make educated business decisions and develop culturally relevant communications.

"Thanks to programs offered by organizations such as TechColumbus, Columbus 2020, Ohio SBDC and the Ohio State University, we have been able to develop a seed idea into a solid value proposition," Pongonis says. "In April this year OYE! was named a finalist for the Latino Startup of the year 2014, the only team out of four that was not from Palo Alto, California."

Pongonis believes other startup companies can also take advantage of the region's networking and resources to develop new business opportunities.

Meanwhile, she will continue to focus on her company's key values of innovation and cultural sensitivity to ensure continued success of her companies' operations in the next five to ten years.

"Understanding how the Hispanic demographic evolves and understanding how these changes affect digital conversations and the use of the many different platforms are key factors to ensure our success and that of our clients," she says.

Pongonis says that her companies learn from their peers, participate in nationwide conferences to share experiences and constantly test new technology as a way to achieve goals.

"We've learned to evolve with our clients and digital trends," she says. "An important foundation at Nativa is to give a voice to our team and allow them to be part of our change and growth."

TC Brown is a freelance writer.

Nativa and OYE!

1275 Kinnear Rd.

Columbus 43212