BIO Discovering his passion for digital marketing early in life, Nick Ring has a unique and extensive background in development and programming. Since holding a position as a Cable Coordinator at age fifteen, Nick has come a long way, working with Britney Spears and Clear Channel/iHeart Radio (where he won “Innovator of the Year”), as well as starting his own social publishing platform prior to founding The Digital Ring with partners Mason and Matt. An advocate for self-development and thinking outside the box, Nick is a self-taught dev wiz and never lets a problem go unsolved. With incredible drive and passion, Nick leads our technology and development team at The Digital Ring, ensuring a focus on innovative and creative solutions for those in need. When Nick isn’t talking code and computers, he can be found advocating for animal welfare, promoting the care of our furry friends through different wildlife organizations. He’s very loved by his wife, two children, six chickens, three dogs, two cats, and a fish (and likely a few other rescue animals living in his home at any given time).
Did you always know you'd be running your own marketing agency?
I did, actually. It all started when I was three years old. Most kids were playing with Lego blocks, but I was strategizing the best way to reinvent a marketing agency. Ok, well maybe not. It took a few years out in the “real world” working for other companies before I realized that marketing was my home. More and more, I began to see that there was an opportunity to help businesses not only better understand marketing, but achieve real business results through the digital side of marketing.
What have you done in your past lives?
I’m proud to say that I’ve always been a “nerd.” My very first job was a cable coordinator position for the Town and Village of Cottage Grove. From videotaping board meetings to scheduling out content on the local cable channel… at fifteen years old I was pretty geeked to be doing all of that. In high school I joined the Video Club and from there I continued the nerdiness by teaching myself how to develop websites, eventually building them for businesses in the community. In computer science class, I decided to build a website for a new artist at the time named Britney Spears. When the project was complete, I didn’t want to just delete the project… so I decided to reach out to her. I ended up getting a hold of Britney’s dad and built her first official website, which not only made me really popular at school, but also led me to becoming pretty entrenched in the music industry. I loved every aspect of it.
I started interning at Clear Channel Radio working with stations and record labels and making all sorts of contacts. One time, I offered up my high school’s auditorium to 98 Degrees when a scheduled rehearsal at Alliant fell through… but that’s a story for a different time.
Flash forward to post-high school and things were really started to take shape. I was known as the “digital guy” because I was able to help the radio stations do things that they hadn’t done before: streaming audio, setting up live webcams, building better websites, etc. I quickly transitioned to Director of Digital: a position I held for about 10 years. As time went on, I taught myself deeper levels of programming and software integration (iHeartRadio App) and eventually won Clear Channel’s “Innovator of the Year.” During that time, I also assisted with sales pitches to companies. That’s where I met Matt.
At that time, I was also building my own social media software called “Engaging Social” which helped small businesses easily manage their social presence. This actually led me to meeting Mason, who also owned a software company. A couple years later, I sold my company and joined forces with Matt over at a marketing agency in town. I didn’t stay long… Matt and I needed “more” and knew we could really push the envelope if we launched our own digital marketing company. We got together with Mason and the three of us started brainstorming. A couple months later, The Digital Ring was born.
How long have you been in the game?
Well, first of all - I really wish I would have read this question before I answered the last one… LOL. I’ve been in the game since high school, honestly. The minute I started to realize that I could make money by “being geeky” and doing things that I love, everything changed. I basically moved into overdrive and starting pushing myself and refining my skills. So... to answer your question, since high school. Geez I’m long-winded. Since high school. That’s the answer.
For you, what’s the most exciting thing about working so closely with technology?
There isn’t just “one” thing that excites me about technology. I love the fact that it’s always changing. It never gets old… technology is always changing, user behavior continues to change - and it’s a cycle that helps fuel innovation! I also love the fact that it’s like baking. Seriously, though… you can build what you want, how you want - all from scratch. Being able to see what you have created is such a great feeling.
What do you love most about The Digital Ring?
The thing I love most about The Digital Ring is the people. When we started out, we really wanted to focus on the culture… our team is a group of fun, caring and extremely talented individuals. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of pushing ourselves every day, but the fact that everyone still has time to have a little fun and preserve the “family” environment is extremely important and something I think is very powerful. Our team feels it - and so do our clients.
If The Digital Ring was an animal, what would it be and why?
If we were an animal, I’d say we’d be a lion. We’re strong (strong company, strong team, strong base of knowledge). We’re protective (our Crew is like our family and we protect our clients and want only the best for them). We’re smart and strategic (we have to be smart to outwit the competition, and strategy is part of the game... we need it for survival).
What advice can you give to others who are interested in working for The Digital Ring?
Continue to work hard and push yourself… even if the place you’re at right now doesn’t require it. Keep striving for something better so that you can be the absolute best. This is how opportunities will start to present themselves to you and how you’ll set yourself up for success. Then, with everything that you do, always remember to keep your “business hat” on. This has been critical for me when it comes to saving time. I look at things and say, “Ok, that idea may have been great - but let’s figure out if it’s realistic and if it makes sense as a business." It doesn’t mean the idea is dead… but it helps you branch out and push the idea on the most realistic track.
You just got stranded on an island with your other two partners, what role are you playing to get the hell off?
I mean… I’m not sure. What kind of stuff do we have on this island? I’m writing this in the middle of winter right now - so an island doesn’t sound half bad. Ok, ok… but I guess if it was just us three, it could start to get boring after a couple years… so I suppose I’d be the one trying to figure out what types of things we had access to so that we could build a boat and sail off. Or start taking notes on when planes fly over to see if there are patterns so that we could try to flag them down with fire. (I was never in Boy Scouts so I have no idea how to light anything on fire unless I have a lighter... so hopefully we have that.) With my luck, the people on the plane would just think we were three guys, camping out, having a good time on vacation. What if nobody came? What if we all die? Are there wild man-eating animals here? Now I’m starting to freak out. What if we are here forever? This was a horrible question...why would you ask this?!