While most Purdue students likely spent their time in quarantine wishing they were back on campus, watching Netflix and fielding a seemingly endless number of Zoom calls, junior and cybersecurity major Carlos Santiago said he wanted to make a difference.
Santiago returned to his home in southern Puerto Rico when campus shut down in March. While home, he said, he decided to start a social media marketing business to help boost the Puerto Rican economy and aid local businesses in gaining footing in such an economically unstable time.
“I found that many businesses in Puerto Rico were lacking a social presence online, which I think is really important nowadays in terms of marketing,” Santiago said. “I also know more about Puerto Rican business than the United States, so I wanted to first implement it there.”
After Santiago founded Digitized Central Promotions, he started to work with local businesses such as food trucks.
Food trucks’ flexibility, he said, made it possible to see immediately how the social media marketing tactics affected business. Business owners could see a return on their investments quickly because of the day-to-day nature of the business.
Due to the increasing profitability of his endeavor after his success with food trucks, Santiago started to become more selective about the types of businesses with which his company would work.
“I decided to focus more on pharmaceuticals,” Santiago said, “because I feel like they have a lot of content that they could post, so it’s really easy for a social media marketer to play with their content.”
Benjamin Bedoya, a junior in the College of Engineering, took on the role of operations partner when Santiago moved back to Purdue this semester, leaving his team in Puerto Rico behind.
“I first noticed that (Santiago) had a lot of vision, and that’s why I decided to put a lot of effort into the business — because I appreciate that drive,” Bedoya said. “This was also the perfect time to start this type of company because of COVID-19 and the majority of marketing going digital.”
Santiago said returning to Purdue has helped the company grow and evolve.
“At Purdue, it’s a constant competition, and you’re constantly getting feedback,” Santiago said. “You can get feedback anywhere. You can get ideas anywhere. You’re constantly working and developing yourself and your business. Being here helped us network and really get into a different mindset.”
Bedoya said he felt that “microbusinesses” — small businesses that often employ no more than five people — are the future of Digitized Central Solutions’ clientele. He said there was an obvious disparity between the resources of smaller businesses and larger, name-brand companies in the arena of social media marketing.
“Maybe you have a mother or a father trying to start a side-business to help support their family, but they don’t have the resources to hire a marketing agency,” Bedoya said. “That’s where we come in, since it’s a more accessible way for microbusinesses to build a digital presence.”
Santiago said his company has a presentation scheduled with an international agricultural company based in Miami. Santiago and Bedoya said they are excited at the prospect of their first big project taking the business to a higher level, but they remain dedicated to the types of local businesses that yielded their initial success.
“It’s just finding as many opportunities as we can, helping people put their products out there, and providing a platform where people can be themselves and promote their brand their way,” Santiago said. “We do our best to give our companies the best results possible.”