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Exploring Life & Business with Nate Melek of Think Local MN

Published on: 10/13/2022

This news was posted by Think Local MN

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Today we’d like to introduce you to Nate Melek.

Hi Nate, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.

Well, I am a MN native and I graduated from Hopkins High School in 2002.I then went on to play college baseball @ Oklahoma State and the University of New Mexico. In 2006 I was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Organization. Throughout my college and professional baseball career I was fortunate enough to have lived in 10 different states and Canada for around 11 years. No matter where I was, my interest outside of baseball was alwasy about the surrounding local culture. I was always  looking for the local restaurants, markets, retail stores to find out about what they had to offer in their demographic.  It’s important to live in the mindset of “Thinking Local” because the big box retailers with all the money are EVERYWHERE, so why miss putting the dollars in the pockets of, and eating the home cooked meals of, all the locally owned, hard working american business owners?

Moving back home in 2012, I graduated from the U of Minnesota and started a baseball training business in Hopkins, MN. The outfit was called Minneota Baseball House. My mission behind Minnesota Baseball House was to give back to my community, and the reason for that is, is that I didn’t achieve what I achieved in baseball all on my own. I had many many coaches and mentors along the way that helped me grow as a professional and as an adult. I wanted to give that help back. Moving on from baseball, a former business partner and I started a wake surfing business called Surf Tonka. We used the same training model we had with my baseball business and applied it to wake surfing. Again, its all about teaching, growing and giving back to the youth!

Lastly, in 2021 I had the opportunity to lay all of my eggs, all of my passion, into supporting local businesses with a great app and tech platform that has never been seen in the state of Minnesota before. It’s a proven product, business model and successful platform in nearly 35+ cities and states in the US and through Canada. We are currently a 3-person team, soft-launched around 4 months ago, have around 4500 downloads and 30+ businesses on the platform, and we aren’t looking to stop for anything. This technology is giving real time, location based direct B2C marketing, advertising, and promotion all at the fingertips of our locally owned businesses and its cutting edge. It’s the future. Cell phones are the new computer and have been for a long time now.  From your pocket to the palm of your hand – is how effective these tactics are.  Think local MN aims to be the BEST and ONLY official app in the state of MN. It intends to support the local ecosystems by connecting the locally owned businesses directly to their customers in real time. What we have created here, the tech, the branding – this is only the beginning of becoming a smarter state, having stronger communities and  building sustaining ecosystems within our state border.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

It’s been relatively smooth, yes. As a start-up and a pioneer of something not many people may be able to grasp initially, some front-loaded education needs to happen. Many of our partners, prospects, and businesses we speak with either understand the technology behind what we are bringing to market or maybe they don’t. But a 30-minute sit down usually clears things up. You see, there are a lot of old-school ways of marketing, and that includes print. More than not, they have been on autopilot when it comes to print, or even knowing about their advertising or marketing budget. Half of those businesses are still in print. With inflation and print being a commodity, their prices are rising and forever will. I’ve learned that maybe 1 in 100 people who see a print ad will actually go to that place of existence, physically walk in, and verbally announce that they “saw your ad in the paper or a magazine.” It just doesn’t happen like it used to. Our biggest struggle, if you prefer, is educating and coaching these businesses on where the actual bang for their buck is going or can go. It’s sharing and pioneering a product a lot have never seen. It’s sharing our vision of the state-wide ecosystem and letting them know the importance of when our ecosystem grows, meaning our app, the users, and the partnered and featured businesses – that only gives everyone on the platform a wider reach.

Think Local MN’s app being location based means that a human could travel from Duluth to Minneapolis or vice versa and find a place of business that is LOCAL to where you are! If you are looking for promotions, we have promotions. If you are looking for the nearest brewery or burger joint, you will find it. It’s real-time. Loyalty programs, rewards, parks, events, and news, we have it all integrated into our app and web app. This project hasn’t come to where it is overnight. This has been a several-year project, with millions of dollars invested, 2.0 to 3.0, beta testing, and bug fixing. We listen to our communities, and we respond and deliver.

Thanks – so, what else should our readers know about Think Local MN?

We specialize in supporting local businesses and cultivating a stronger community between consumers and businesses.

What sets us apart from others? There is not one single app in the state of MN that harnesses all that we harness in our shell, and there is not one single app that can provide the proprietary and patented tech we can on our back end, for the businesses to utilize, grow and build THEIR businesses at a cost that we can.

We are most proud of being able to support our state-wide local communities. If we didn’t have a vision or mission/intention, we wouldn’t be here! We are here for the people, the economy, and the businesses; Heaven forbid we have another pandemic, state-wide shutdown. This app and platform is a place for every business to let the consumers, travelers, locals – when they are open, what deals they may have, what loyalty rewards they offer etc.  Everyone’s mind should shift into giving a little more thought into what makes smaller businesses, smaller communities worlds go around inside our large state of MN. They need, want and most importantly, deserve our support.

You should know that this is a free app for any consumer and mobile user to download in their native App Store. We want you to know that you will find exclusive deals, promotions, and everything from the businesses listed within. We want you to know that it doesn’t matter where you are right now in the state. Thinking “local” to us should mean where you are at any given time, and our app will show you what you want to find no matter where in the state, with over 25k businesses listed in our bronze section. We aim to partner with as many of them as possible to support their mission. That’s our mission.

If you are a consumer of any business – Download our app for free – find Think Local MN in your App Store. If you are a business, we would love to demo and share with you what we have created in favor and the lightness of you and your business in mind.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?

You’re only old when you stop being young. Great things don’t always come overnight but with Great Opportunity Comes Great Achievement.  Work ahrd for what you want, stand behind what you believe in and just share, tell and deliver your passion and things will work out just the way they should. From the moment my kindergarten teacher was asking me, “what do you want to be when you grow up? I wanted to play professional baseball. That was it, and I did it after 14 years of hard, dedicated work. Anything can come true if you put in the work!

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