Class of 2015
By Vicki Ikeogu
Originally published: January 3, 2016
WAITE PARK — A desk, a laptop and an unfinished basement. A conversation with an uncle. And a dream.
Those are humble beginnings for one of Central Minnesota's fastest-growing companies. But Luke Riordan's belief in social media marketing and its ability to help other businesses was the driving factor behind the creation of DAYTA Marketing. And it was the positive results — the data behind Riordan's efforts — that helped him move his business from the basement of his home to its location at 415 Third St. N.
"I mean, in the first five months, it was just work," Riordan said. "I serviced our clients from beginning to end, as far as getting them up on their social media platform and then communicating on their behalf."
The concept for DAYTA Marketing began after Riordan completed an internship the summer before his senior year at St. John's University.
"I approached an orthopedic clinic in my hometown of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, with the idea that I would manage their social media," Riordan said. "I didn't know DAYTA Marketing was going to exist at this time. I was learning and I loved what I was doing, but I had no idea that this would be a business one day."
But with such positive feedback from the physicians, Riordan had the idea to pursue this for other companies. Four years, 25 employees, 10 interns and about a dozen independent contractors later, Riordan has never looked back.
Because of his business innovations and community involvement, Riordan has been selected for the 5 Under 40 Class of 2015. He talks about his work in this interview:
Question: Tell me about that moment when you realized that your idea for a social media-focused business was worth pursuing.
Answer: I don’t know if there was a particular moment, but I get these moments all the time. And I still get them. You know the point when it's like 'Wow,' and in the moment, my thought processes changes. You know, when it was early, it was like 'Yeah, we’re going to be around next year or we’re going to hit payroll'. But now, I’m looking at it and I’m going, 'Boy, I think we can go national.' I think we can have a headquarters here in St. Cloud and build a huge team that services businesses all over the United States and even the globe. And I feel more and more confident in our services and our team every single day. So that’s a cool thing. I’ve got a bunch of little moments like that.
Q: Can you explain some of the daily challenges, either positive or negative, that you would encounter in your work with DAYTA Marketing?
A: A lot of the challenge comes from staying on top of social media. That’s key for us. And then building a fast-growing business that can adapt to those changes rapidly. So that’s the big challenge that we have as a company. And I think that we’re doing a really great job at it as we scale our team.
Q: What has been the most rewarding experience in your professional life thus far?
Luke Riordan, CEO and founder of DAYTA Marketing, smiles as he talks Dec. 10 about his team and the path he took from an unpaid internship to starting the social media marketing firm in Waite Park. (Photo: Kimm Anderson, firstname.lastname@example.org)
A: I think the most rewarding thing has been being able to not only be welcomed into the community but also being able to now help shape it into something that we all believe in. We’ve got a young team here. I don’t know what the average age is, but it’s under 30 years old. It’s fun to be able to grow as a group together. And that’s the big reward, I think. It's having everybody outside of this room and who’s working at DAYTA be able to feel their own success.One of the things that we say often is that we don’t manage and supervise, we coach and mentor. And it’s not me always being a mentor to them. It’s everybody is a mentor to each other. We’re always coaching each other, helping each other. Because we all have different levels of expertise in certain areas and seeing a cohesive team that is all in it together, that’s cool.
Q: Not only does your company provide pro bono services for organizations, but provides internship opportunities for college students. Why is this so important to you?
A: First and foremost, we need a good community to thrive. So I think it makes a lot of business sense to give back to the community. One of the reasons that we have a robust internship program is that 45 percent of our current workforce started out as interns at DAYTA Marketing, including myself. That internship experience that I had at the orthopedic clinic, I mean that was so huge for me. And to be able to provide internship opportunities to other students, that’s the key to education.
Q: What is your motivation, your driving force that keeps you going?
A: It's to be able to help others become successful. I think that’s the most rewarding thing in life is just being able to watch somebody succeed, because you helped them out or you were with them. To be able to do that is really fun. And I’m in the front row seat to be able to watch our team succeed and grow. It’s motivational and it’s also rewarding at the same time.
Q: What advice would you give to other young professionals, especially young professionals who are starting out on their career journey?
A: Having a mentor group is huge. Whether it’s employee based that is going after the same goals as you are or it’s somebody who wants to coach you and help you through some of the struggles that you’re going to have. That, I think, is a key component.
Occupation: Owner and founder of DAYTA Marketing.
Family: Wife, Karli; son, Keegan, 3.
Education: Bachelor's degree in management from St. John's University.
Community involvement: Board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota; chair of the JobSpot Talent subcommittee for Greater St. Cloud Development Corp.; advisory board member for Falcon National Bank. DAYTA Marketing also provides pro bono work for several area nonprofits.