Alexi Venneri created her own board games as a child so she could make the rules.
It was an early sign of the innovative mindset that inspired her to launch Digital Air Strike™ — a social media and reputation management company — from her kitchen table in Scottsdale.
“I always had the ideas and the drive to want to be an entrepreneur,” she said.
In 2007, Venneri was running an ad agency. She noticed the impact of negative online reviews and recognized the opportunity to help companies manage their online presence and reputations on social media. Venneri started Digital Air Strike in 2008.
Although the country was headed into a deep recession, social media platforms offered a low-cost advertising method for businesses that were slashing TV and radio advertising budgets to connect directly with their customers.
A company’s social media page is a global billboard, according to Venneri.
“Every conversation is broadcast to the world, and it’s right there in plain view for everyone to see how you are going to treat customers,” she said.
While it has great potential for advertisers, social media can be a downfall for companies that aren’t listening – or responding – to what customers are saying online.
“For the first time, consumers have the power when it comes to advertising because of social networks,” Venneri said. “Businesses can no longer control the message.”
Venneri compares her company to a behind-the-scenes air-traffic controller.
“We’re listening to all the conversations and we’re sending alerts to the businesses,” she said.
By acting as a middleman, Digital Air Strike is able to improve customer service — a win for both clients and consumers.
Venneri initially focused her business on companies providing automotive sales — a large-ticket purchase that customers tend to heavily research online.
“For most people it’s their biggest payment outside of the cost of where they live,” Venneri said.
In the past year, Digital Air Strike had interactions with more than one-third of all automotive sales and service website traffic.
Today, the company has expanded to serve customers in about 20 other industries, Venneri said. Clients typically provide products and services that consumers are likely to research, such as hotels, dentist services or urgent care centers. Digital Air Strike also plans an expansion into markets for rental housing and continuing education.
“Social media is the perfect way to reach students,” Venneri said.
As the company grows — it now has about 170 employees and more than 3,000 clients — Venneri looks for ways to encourage her company’s entrepreneurial spirit. Every month, the company gives away six “Whatever It Takes” awards to employees who are nominated either by customers or peers for finding innovative solutions to problems. All award nominees are entered into a drawing for an annual trip to destinations such as Cabo San Lucas and Whistler, Canada, in 2018.
“It’s meant to reward people for being inspired, being innovative and being entrepreneurs themselves,” Venneri said. “This company started on my kitchen table as an idea in the middle of the recession. If I could do that, I really want to want to empower my employees to do the same.”
Name: Alexi Venneri
Title: Co-founder and CEO
Company name: Digital Air Strike
Industry: Digital marketing