8 Qs for a Silicon Prairie Founder: Natalie Micale, Oh Hello

Houston native Natalie Micale, CEO and co-founder of Lincoln-based marketing agency Oh Hello, attended the same performing arts high school as Beyoncé. We’re not sure whether that had anything to do with her drive to be successful, or her desire to inspire women to take the plunge and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, but it probably…

Photo courtesy of Natalie Micale
Photo courtesy of Natalie Micale

Houston native Natalie Micale, CEO and co-founder of Lincoln-based marketing agency Oh Hello, attended the same performing arts high school as Beyoncé.

We’re not sure whether that had anything to do with her drive to be successful, or her desire to inspire women to take the plunge and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, but it probably didn’t hurt.

After a diverse career that included an internship at C-SPAN and four years as a reporter and anchor at Lincoln’s 10/11 News, Micale was inspired to start her own creative firm while working in business development for another agency. Now, three years later, Micale runs a 20-employee brand management firm that recently won an award for Best Web Design Agency in the Midwest.

Recently, Micale recorded the following video to discuss her entrepreneurial journey with the Silicon Prairie community.

How did you get started?

I came (to Lincoln) on a full-ride for musical theatre at Nebraska Wesleyan. That was really where I found my love of storytelling, and I actually ended up getting into journalism, going to D.C. to work for a year at C-SPAN and a local news station. I came back and worked at 10/11 News for four years as an anchor and a reporter, and that’s where I discovered my love of storytelling. So when I looked at the next step in my career, it made sense to go into the agency world and help companies and brands powerfully position themselves and tell a great story about how they help their customers. So I started working at Evol Empire after 10/11; they were acquired by Firespring and then, when that happened, I decided, you know what, I’m not ready to work for the man. I wanna try and do this myself, so I started Oh Hello agency, a creative marketing firm that helps build relatable brands all around the world, and the number one thing we do is we work with people who value stories and who want to tell great stories about their customers and to their customers.

Is your job what you thought you would be doing when you were a child?

No. When I was a kid, I thought I was going to be a Broadway baby. I’ve been doing musical theatre since I was like five years old. I was singing, I was acting, I was in a traveling children’s choir, and I thought I was either going to be a Broadway baby or a pop star. Along the way, what I learned was that I actually hated auditioning, and that singing and acting all the time could be emotionally exhausting. When I got into college, I realized, all right, maybe I’ll try being a journalist. So that’s how that went.

What are you building right now? Why is it important to you?

Our agency right now is in a place where we’re able to help brands extend empathy and feeling and emotion to their customers through digital, and they’re able to really craft a story and help people with what they need right now in the pandemic. On the Oh Hello side, it’s important to me what we’re building, because we’re building an agency that genuinely cares about not only storytelling, but the deep impact that storytelling can have and how it can influence people to change their lives. At Oh Hello, that’s a big piece of it.

The VA Revenue Generator, which is a sub-brand under Oh Hello, teaches people how to hire virtual assistants. It teaches small businesses, mid-level businesses, how to hire people in the Philippines — because we have an international team ourselves — and how they can really start to craft, with virtual assistants, a marketing strategy. Basically because of the pandemic and so many people not being able to fully have a marketing team, this VA Revenue Generator piece teaches them how to take these virtual assistants in the Philippines and turn them into a marketing team and leverage them for $5 to $7 an hour tasks, it gives people in the Philippines awesome work, it helps them have a mini-marketing team for an affordable rate, and they’re able to really grow and delegate tasks that they would be doing themselves, that would stop them from growing their business.

We’ve seen over and over again small business typically don’t have a budget for an agency, or they are at the lowest totem pole when it comes to working with agencies because they can’t do a lot, service-wise. Creating the VA Revenue Generator and teaching people how to leverage international talent is really important to me because it’s helping people who were where I was three years ago, when I started the business, learn how to delegate and grow their business. That, I’m really passionate about.

What is your favorite thing that you have ever built? Why was it your favorite?

A lot of different ways I could answer this question. Probably Midwest Barrel Co., a client that I worked with on web design and brand strategy; they are a barrel broker in the Midwest. That’s probably one of my favorite passion projects that we’ve done at the agency. They let us be really creative. We built an awesome relationship with their team. Building that website was just super fun. Learning about breweries and how beer is made in these barrels and how a local company like them are expanding in such a niche market, that was a really fun creative project. I think any time a client lets us push creative boundaries, we have a lot of fun.

If you could improve one thing about your job or the place that you live, what would the change be?

I hate the snow. I’m from Houston, Texas. I would love to have some warmth. It is very cold here, and I burrow like a bear in hibernation during the winter.

Was there anything looking back that you would do differently?

When I started my business, I wish I’d delegated more. I was trying to do everything and living in scarcity. I felt I had to do everything because we couldn’t afford to hire out help. If I had changed my mindset to abundance and tried to figure out how to delegate things to other people on our team, I probably could’ve grown a lot faster if I’d just focused on sales and marketing.

What could the Silicon Prairie community do to help you succeed?

Wow. That’s a really powerful question. I think the Silicon Prairie community could help female founders succeed if female founders like me continue to educate them on how to raise their prices and be more aggressive in sales. I started to learn that and I still need more of that. I think female founders really struggle with raising prices, showing value. The men kind of have that piece figured out. For so long, they’ve talked about how to make money, and making money is a very comfortable conversation. What I’d love to see are more spotlights on how female founders can actually build more profitable businesses and more success stories and raise their prices and be better negotiators. Within the Silicon Prairie community, finding more mentors that are willing to share that information would not only help me, it would help other female founders like me.

If you could ask these questions to anyone, who would it be?

That’s a really great question. I think I would ask Brooke Mullen, founder of Sapahn, because it’s such an awesome Midwestern brand and I’m really impressed with the work she’s doing in the Silicon Prairie community.

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