In the vast world of digital marketing, some agencies stand out not just for their success but for their mission and the impact they create. One such agency is Black Digital, an uncompromising ally of mission-based organizations and a testament to the power of perseverance, vision, and adaptability. Today, we delve deep into the story of Black Digital and its founder, Mike Utaegbulam, to understand how they've become a force to be reckoned with in the digital marketing landscape.
Founded in 2018 by Mike Utaegbulam, Black Digital was born out of a need to help mission-based organizations craft compelling marketing messages. Mike’s experience supporting nonprofit organizations, both internally and as an external consultant, showed him the everyday challenges they all faced.
“Every department I was in,” Mike shared, “had similar issues of low funding or a small staff, but the expectations for nonprofits remained higher than their resources could enable.”
Mike's vision was clear: to inspire audiences to act and make a difference. But it wasn't until the turmoil of 2020 that Mike shifted his full attention to Black Digital, transforming it from a side hustle to his primary focus.
The global pandemic and the subsequent rise in remote work created a surge in demand for digital marketing services. Concurrently, the murders of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and Ahmad Arbery led to a societal awakening, prompting corporations to seek services from Black-owned businesses. Mike describes this confluence of events as a "perfect storm" that propelled Black Digital to profitability in its inaugural year.
Today, Black Digital is headquartered in Washington, DC and boasts a diverse and talented remote team spread across the globe. Comprising twenty dedicated professionals, including graphic designers, project managers, web developers, social media experts, and proposal writers, the agency typically collaborates with up to 15 clients simultaneously.
The company's ethos revolves around empowering nonprofits and using website development to transform shared hopes into tangible actions. By viewing clients as partners, Black Digital ensures that every collaboration yields a return surpassing the initial investment.
Its unwavering commitment to cultural diversity and inclusivity sets Black Digital apart. By embracing ideas from all backgrounds, the agency has carved a niche in delivering results-driven marketing, inclusive advertising to BIPOC audiences, and tailor-made digital strategies for nonprofits.
Mike's journey began at The University of South Florida, after which he dived into the nonprofit marketing world. Despite being multifaceted, handling design, social media, email campaigns, and video editing, Mike felt the constraints of the nonprofit sector. His aspirations led him towards marketing agencies, but the right fit eluded him. This journey, combined with a missed promotion opportunity at his nonprofit job, ignited the spark to establish Black Digital.
“Although I originally signed on to do design work at these organizations, I ended up also working with social media, email campaigns, and video editing. I was doing two or three people’s jobs, but in nonprofit work, it’s tough to advance in the company.”
Mike's motivation transcends business success. As a first-generation American, Mike and his family survived because nonprofits played a pivotal role in his community. This personal connection fuels his love and passion for aiding these organizations.
The sentiment is reflected in the pride he takes over his work. One of Mike's proudest collaborations was with The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) for the Honors Symposium, a four-day professional development event that focused on creating more equitable workplaces by helping to develop Black executives. Through strategic advertising and robust brand identity, Black Digital connected major corporations like Bank of America, Coca-Cola, the NBA, and Nationwide with HBCUs. This initiative led to a staggering 300% increase in student scholarship applications, awarding over $1.5M in scholarships in 2023 alone.
“These numbers are astounding and exciting for me because they show the impact of Black Digital’s work on local communities and individuals,” says Mike.
However, success doesn't come without challenges. For Mike, the perennial quest for more hours in a day remains a hurdle. Yet, with a stellar team by his side, he's mastered the art of delegation. The fruits of his labor are evident in the opportunities Black Digital provides for diverse creatives and the positive change they instigate in communities. There’s never a day he doubts his impact, especially when he can read texts or comments on Instagram from excited people after company events.
Beyond his professional realm, Mike is an anime aficionado and fitness enthusiast, and his road bike can often be seen in the background of Zoom meetings.
Black Digital's journey wouldn't be complete without mentioning Prosal. The platform has been instrumental in connecting Black Digital with quality opportunities in the nonprofit sector. Through Prosal, the agency has secured numerous work opportunities and new connections, further solidifying its position in the digital marketing domain.
Black Digital's story is a testament to the power of vision, adaptability, and perseverance. Under Mike Utaegbulam's leadership, the agency has achieved business success and made a tangible impact in and on communities. As Prosal continues supporting diverse businesses, Black Digital is a shining example of the platform's potential.