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Meet Louis Nava of Always Play Interactive in San Diego

Today we’d like to introduce you to Louis Nava.

Louis, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
That is a long story… but, I’ll talk about how it started.

It really started by growing up in the 80’s as a child with the passion for technology, video games and design. I really didn’t start putting things together until high school. I grew up in low-income communities where resources were scarce and not accessible to me (i.e. money and computers). If we wanted money, my brother and I went door to door asking people to take out their trash, washing cars or collecting cans.

Around 1994, I would spend my time before school, lunch, and after school, even weekends, at the Helix High School media lab. With a little bit of help from a teacher, I taught myself Photoshop 2.5, video editing and web design. Yes, while all my friends were out socializing, hooking up on dates and going to parties, I was in the media lab learning with the school’s equipment or fixing the teachers computers.

While still in high school, some friends and I opened a car stereo installation business after school. During school hours, I would also design logos, T-shirts, and print business cards in graphics class for friends and local business people.

I figured out business early in life and if there was something that I wanted to learn, I would just teach myself. Back then, we didn’t have Facebook and YouTube. The Internet was barely in existence and Google was still years away.

Every experience I’ve had was a building block to where I was going and I would not be who I am without them.

These other building blocks include: Starting San Diego’s first online Hip Hop Community; working in the mainstream music industry for Relativity/Sony Records; becoming a Caregiver for people with Disabilities; Becoming a computer teacher in an Elementary school; a community Leader; Youth mentoring; Building a Social Enterprise; becoming a Father to name a few.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it hasn’t been a smooth road but life has a way of balancing itself out.

Here are a few of the struggles:

Having to leave home while I was 17.
Not being able to find a job.
Finding myself with a broken down car on the day of my 1st-semester finals for college.
Finding myself a second time, with a broken down car on finals day for college.
Starting a business with no money, little equipment while teaching myself along the way.
No mentors or assistance from others.
Needing to work 18 hour days on 4 to 5 hours of sleep.
Solo-preneur… meaning, I do everything pertaining to my business.
Becoming homeless on multiple occasions.
People who take advantage of my kindness and don’t appreciate my work.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Always Play Interactive – what should we know?
For the past 20+ years, the work I’ve done has been technology based. It is my passion and it is how I can help people the most. If I was to put it all into one pot it would boil down to digital marketing.

When you think about all the ingredients that make up the internet and how it functions I tend to be able to do it all. I help individuals, small businesses, large businesses with understanding technology from the educational side right down to the technical services side.

I help businesses become more visible online which creates more customers for them. Education/Coaching is a huge part of my services because society needs help transitioning into the digital age. Business owners usually suffer the most because they tend to stick to traditional methods of marketing and are often victims of scammer marketing companies. The internet is still young and is constantly evolving every day.

In 2012, I became the first Google Photographer in San Diego to provide Street View to Businesses. This allowed me to offer my customers virtual reality style photography to showcase the inside of their shops on Google Maps. From there, I learned what makes Google tick in terms of ranking local businesses. I combined my knowledge of SEO and web design to get businesses the visibility they need. Now I am a Google community partner for a program called “Get Your Business Online”.

New for 2018, I’m currently in restructuring mode. The plan is to re-focus my efforts on mentoring youth through technology while keeping the digital marketing aspects. I’m currently looking for teenagers and young adults who are interested in digital media who want to learn the business. I want to give them a solid starting block and real-world experience early in life.

In addition, I’m developing a curriculum to help parents connect with their child’s passion for technology. It will introduce coding as a language, video game development, marketing and ultimately help them find a career that they will love.

I’m happy that I can have a balanced life through business. The biggest appeal in being self-employed is that I can spend time with my family and enjoy doing something that I love. I’m super selective in who I work with and what I do. Some months, I’ll be really interested in doing photography while others, I’ll be really wanting to do video work. It forces me to continue to stay ahead of the technology curve and to better understand human behavior, not to mention being able to have fun.

I set myself apart from others by being a human first and business person second. I give away a lot of what I know for free and hold appreciation in higher regard than monetary compensation.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Keeping an open mind, working hard, being honest and doing the things that bring fulfillment and passion.

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