Natalia Rubiano, Founder and CEO Interview with VoyageMIA
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Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalia Rubiano.
Hi Natalia, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Five years ago (or three weeks before I registered Grozina LLC), I had no phone, no bank account, no car, no relatives in Florida, no food, no power, no money, and stuck on the border of the evacuation zone during Hurricane Irma with a 9-month-old child. It’s a different topic about how I got there, but after three nights of being stuck in a bathroom praying for my life and my son’s, we got power.
I walked to a Western Union and got some money wired from my mom, a part of which ($100) I used to register Grozina LLC. My only option was to make it work – so I did the only thing I knew how and created a website. Internet was the only thing I had, apart from a laptop, so I turned $800 into $1500, into $5000, into $65k. I had no essentials, but I had an education. I went to the London School of Economics.
I used the only confidence I had gained from attending school there to build momentum — in other words, I knew a little about economics – a little about supply and demand — and a lot about how to make things work with little resources. I built my company on one principle – like the palm tree that has learned to bend and not break when it faces hurricane winds, I, too would navigate storms of all kinds for my clients.
With that kind of mindset, I have gained many clients – international companies, universities, and government entities. What motivates me is good work and inspiring others not to get killed by the storm, just simply become one.
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?
The biggest challenge for me when I started (and still is) is to balance time – at the end of the day, I am still a mother, a woman and run a business. I didn’t necessarily seek out to give myself the CEO title, but no one was giving me any other ones when I went to interview, so time was running out, I got upset and registered an LLC and took the title myself. I also was not just starting a business from zero, but my entire life so I really had to take the bull by it’s horns on this one. I had to figure out a car, phone, apartment, babysitter, clients, and five years later I still have these challenges. I’m still figuring out time to manage clients, work, finding talent, being a mom and having a balanced life. At first, I lived in AirBnB’s, and hotels, and walked three miles in the heat with a stroller to rent a car from Enterprise (to go to three- step interviews only not to get hired). At one point, I moved in with someone to save some money until he tried to kill me by drowning me in a bathtub and I lost hearing for a month. I slept in streets you couldn’t even imagine, with sheets that had holes in them, a gun pulled on me and the only possession I had was a laptop and a Louis Vuitton weekender bag that I bought back when I was living the life in London.
Meanwhile, I was still going through a divorce, fighting for custody and showing up to court with a black eye. Then it was COVID-19, income from clients went down nearly overnight and my role quickly turned into keeping them from drowning. I had to pivot, think creatively, and come up with solutions. It was easy to give up, but I was in it too deep to back out. I still remember the call I got at 9 pm on a Friday from a client asking to do something – and I did.
I wrote an entire plan overnight to secure over $100 million in funding or else – there was no business for them or me. It succeeded. After that, I started managing other businesses, and more clients, outsourcing work, and making sure my son was on time for preschool classes every morning. It’s been a challenge, but I have learned so much about myself and more about others. If there is any advice I can give, it is this: you have to train your mind into thinking differently.
The times I was starving, I was not whining, I would instead tell myself I was doing a juicing cleanse as they do on the Real Housewives. They fast for 40 days with those cleanses, and I was doing the same. You just have to believe it.
We’ve been impressed with Grozina, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Grozina is a marketing and public relations firm that works with a select number of U.S. and international clients. We provide advice to businesses and government organizations on marketing, communications, management, environmental, scientific, and technical issues related to their organization.
We’ve partnered with aviation, education, finance, art, and hospitality industries, as well as hold several government contracts across the U.S.
Services we offer:
Marketing (+ Sales Enablement)
Branding and Design
Social Media Management
Content Writing, Research, and Development
Website Design, Security, and SEO
Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
My son, for giving me a purpose and my mom for her unconditional love. My parents, for being there when I thought I couldn’t and my other half, who knows how to step in, when everyone else only knows how to step out.