Skills learned at GCU helped alumna’s business prosper
Story and photo by Paige Gruner
Office of Alumni Relations
GCU Today Magazine
Natalie Speers, founder of Social Ally, a social media and branding agency based in Scottsdale, Ariz., has long been an early adapter. As Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were reshaping human connections, she was helping shape social media as a communication tool for clients.
When she first started out, Speers worked for an event and entertainment company, promoting events in the Phoenix area and getting paid based on the number of people in attendance.
At the time, Myspace was popular. Speers took advantage of marketing to its large audience by building a database. She taught herself HTML code and created a promotional Myspace page where people could RSVP for the events, then get in for free.
At those events, Speers invited paying guests to sign up through Myspace for future events in exchange for providing their contact information. She added the phone numbers and email addresses to her database and eventually developed a list of more than 10 million people, she said. Speers’ boss noticed her efforts and created a department for her called “New Media.”
The Grand Canyon University alumna then launched a social media business with clients that included high-end restaurants and nightclubs in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Scottsdale and in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Business was booming, until her mother became ill.
“I was so focused on taking care of my mom that our company began to fall apart,” said Speers, who earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2014.
Speers took a year off after her mother’s passing to grieve and refocus. She emerged with a clear head, the will to start her own business and a great idea with growth potential. She lacked a business plan, but she was enrolled in a business class at GCU that taught her to develop the framework for Social Ally.
“GCU served as the foundation and catalyst I needed to build and maintain my agency,” said Speers, now 28. “Having learned marketing principles, strategic management, advertising and public relations, I now have the ability to live prosperously in my purpose of helping other entrepreneurs share their messages and services. I am beyond grateful for the staff and peers I had the privilege of learning from and alongside.”
Today, Social Ally (socialallyusa.com) has become so popular that Speers has potential clients on a waiting list. But she still finds time to help nonprofits and small businesses that can’t afford social media and branding services to “prosper in their passion.” She also is launching a new site, Social Natalie, which will offer small businesses and social media professionals free advice related to the latest industry trends.
Click here to watch a video about GCU’s role in helping Speers become an entrepreneur.