“You do know I’m still in school, right?
That was JMU senior Evan Hunsberger’s response when Chiedo told him he was the guy to head up Chiedo Marketing.
The two had connected through Alethia Church a few years earlier while Evan was working his way through College of Business prerequisites, playing with the Marching Royal Dukes, exploring the idea of a history major, and studying for a music industry minor. In order for his parents to foot the bill for college, he was tasked with not only pursuing his passions but also finding a practical major. “I took a bunch of those career path tests when I was a senior in high school and marketing was one of the areas that kept coming up,” says Evan. A natural at selling things as a young student, he conquered band fundraisers, caught the attention of a businessperson who invited him to check back in when he was old enough for a job, and knocked it out of the park selling root beer floats for a local Ruritan club. “I gave marketing classes at JMU a try and loved it,” says Evan.
The summer between his sophomore and junior year, Evan did an internship at Shentel in the marketing department. While he learned a lot, he recognized very quickly that he wasn’t interested in working for a big company. “I wanted to be able to see the impact of my work and I didn’t feel like that was possible in a large corporate setting.”
Meanwhile, he had been following the work of Chiedo Labs closely. “What Chiedo was doing was so cool--it’s a small business and it’s right here in the town where I grew up. Why not ask him for an internship?” Evan had fallen in love with social media marketing, soaking up webinars and articles to feed his growing interest. One evening, on the way back from playing paintball, he broached the idea of an internship with Chiedo. Chiedo hinted that he had something much bigger in mind and suggested they talk again in a few months.
When that meeting rolled around, Chiedo laid out his grand plan for a digital marketing firm and asked Evan not to intern, but to head it up. He didn’t let Evan’s I’m-still-in-school excuse get in the way. Chiedo responded with “I was still in school when I started my company” and fortified his argument by highlighting Evan’s passion for the work and the people. “You can teach the other stuff, but you can’t teach passion,” Chiedo told Evan. “Are you in?”
So, beginning in February of this year, Evan began putting in 10 hours a week doing preliminary behind the scenes work to get the company off the ground. Chiedo Marketing officially launched in May after only three months of prep. The focus of the marketing firm is social media, SEO, and digital advertising but Evan is already thinking about expanding their services to meet other needs that clients have requested.
Evan will graduate this coming May and plans to pour himself into his work at Chiedo Marketing, and balance it with his role in the folk-Americana band, Strong Water, playing drums and singing back up vocals.
“I grew up here, my family has strong roots here, and there is an incredible community of business professionals to learn from. It felt like this job was just supposed to happen,” he says. “Harrisonburg is growing right now with new businesses that we can push forward and ones that have existed for a long time that we can propel into the future. This seems perfectly timed.”
Written by Kirsten Moore, a marketing professional, writer, food lover and serial entrepreneur. She and her husband have mad love for Downtown Harrisonburg and have made it home along with their three sons and two dogs.