Born during my favorite design decade in Upstate New York to a wonderful family, life has been pretty epic. This particular series of fortunate events follows the rise of my career to now.
In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…
After years of various skill upgrades like walking and talking, our story picks up in early 2000. Starring a much more plucky version of me, just entering high school and on the cusp of starting my own business… or feel free to skip ahead.
- Shaker High School
- Nathan Rafter Unincorporated
- Game Crazy
- Namco Pools
- Full Sail University (Bachelor's)
- EA Tiburon
- Full Sail University (Monitor)
- TwoThink Studios
- Sports Authority
- Full Sail University (Master's)
Shaker High School
Graduate | 2000-2006 | Latham, New York
I gravitated towards technology, videography, photography, applied sciences, and art electives. This meant I spent a lot of time in Shaker High School's dedicated Apple iMac lab and signing out their video production gear. I used these tools to make countless skateboarding videos with my friends, Garage Band beats, and designs of every kind. Looking back, I'm blessed to have had access to those amazing resources and teachers that encouraged taking creative risks. They helped me find my voice as a creative and made my present possible. I even started a company of sorts.
- 9x Student Of The Month for World History.
- 4x Student Of The Month for Technology.
- 1x Student Of The Month for Economics.
- 1x Student Of The Month for Film & Photography.
- My Speed Racer inspired movie poster design won its category at Shaker High School's 2005 Creative Showcase.
- After my ninth Student Of The Month title for World History, I declined future nominations so that others could be recognized.
Nathan Rafter Unincorporated
Undefined | 2005-Preset as Nathan Rafter Incorporated | Latham, New York
One day I accepted myself as a creative and went to work finding work. Everything from designing print collateral to skinning MySpace pages for bands and producing custom screen printed t-shirts. Soon into the search, Best Western Hotels became my first client. I attribute this to the quality of my early portfolio, our communication being predominantly phone-based, and no one asking how old I was. My creative business would continue to evolve and later become Nathan Rafter Incorporated. For now, thanks to a partnership with Game Crazy, it was game time.
- My business received its first client payment.
- Customers were wearing handmade t-shirts I designed.
- Best Western Hotels referred my second client to me, the Franklin Plaza.
- Best Western Hotels was my first client. They commissioned me to design a series of print ads for local publications.
Sponsored Player | 2003-2006 | Latham, New York
Back when LAN parties were popular and Xbox Live had just become a thing, I played Halo and Halo 2 competitively. After placing consistently in a few tournaments, a local Game Crazy started sponsoring my entries and providing branded professional gear for events. I continued to compete into senior year of high school until my focus fully shifted to more creative pursuits. And sales.
- 2x Team won Gold in Regional 4V4 Competition.
- 1x Team won Silver in Regional 2V2 Competition.
- 1x Won Silver in Regional Free-For-All Competition.
- 1x Won Bronze in Regional Free-For-All Competition.
- 6x Won Gold in Local Free-For-All Competition.
- 5x Team won Gold in Local 4V4 Competition.
- 3x Team won Gold in Local 2V2 Competition.
- Local LAN parties and competitive online gaming were my introduction to networking and server administration.
- I maintained a 3.1 Lifetime KDR (Kill To Death Ratio) in competition.
- My melee game is strong and I've been known to win many free-for-all matches without firing a single shot.
Sales Lead | 2005-2006 | Latham, New York
In high school, I started as a cashier at one of Namco Pools' smallest stores in the Northeast region. 45 days in I was promoted to the sales team and then again 3 months later to the store's Sales Lead. I would go on to break many of the store's notable sales records and earn top regional sales twice.
- 1x Top Regional Monthly Pool Sales.
- 1x Top Regional Monthly Billiard Sales.
- 8x Top Store Monthly Sales.
- 5x Top Store Monthly Pool Sales.
- 4x Top Store Monthly Billiard Sales.
- Being a top sales lead that's also a high school student is a strange dynamic; you spend half of your day being instructed by adults and the other half instructing them. As my career started at 15 years old, I would become well acquainted with overcoming objections through demonstrable expertise and proven success.
Full Sail University
Bachelor's Graduate | 2006-2008 | Winter Park, Florida
During the summer of 2006, I left my childhood home in New York for a brighter future in Florida. Originally slated for the Game Design & Development program at Full Sail University, I quickly transitioned to Digital Arts & Design after learning firsthand that playing video games was far more enjoyable than the math required to create them. I really connected with the accelerated curriculum which included everything from visual design to motion content to web applications. Through it, I was able to achieve my goal of becoming an all-in-one creative.
- Featured Artist in Full Sail University's 2007 Art Gala.
- Selected for EA Tiburon's In The Game Program, a prestigious internship program for high-achieving students at Full Sail University.
Quality Assurance | 2007 | Orlando, Florida
My background in competitive gaming and ongoing education at Full Sail University made me an easy choice for EA Tiburon's QA division. I originally wanted to be a Game Designer so this opportunity was a dream come true. Shortly after launching Superman Returns, EA centralized its QA operations to Alabama. During this transition, I opted to join the Labs program at my university instead.
- Evaluated gameplay and user experience for Superman Returns on PS3 and Xbox 360.
- Superman Returns is notable in gaming history for matching the infamous playability of Superman 64 and almost bankrupting EA Tiburon. Here I learned the difference between good projects and bad ones can be subtle during phases of production and glaring upon delivery.
Full Sail University
Monitor | 2007-2008 | Winter Park, Florida
Once I had a handle on my first few courses I started working at Labs, a network of dedicated creative workspaces at Full Sail University for students of all programs. As a Monitor, my goal was to energize these environments and engage with students from other programs to learn about them, their projects, and to offer help wherever possible. This would turn out to be somewhat of a glimpse into my future. For the time being, graduation meant moving upward and onward to TwoThink Studios.
- Facilitated over 1,000 hours of Labs for students of all Full Sail University programs.
- Through sheer persistence, I convinced management to turn one of my labs each month into a dedicated collaboration session in which students could volunteer projects or assistance. A practice that would continue on after my retirement.
- One of the most successful collaborations sessions paired up Film and Recording Arts students. The resulting project premiered at the following month's session, at which they unveiled a website created for it by a student in Digital Arts & Design program.
Creative | 2008 | Orlando, Florida
Although closing within 4 months of my hire, we as a team spent that time rallying together and creating high-quality content for our clients. Despite best efforts, the economy continued to implode and it was back to New York for me.
- Managed ecommerce websites and marketing for flagship brands including Hot Lockz, Natural Bronze, and Body Art By Airtoo.
- Delivered 4 Wordpress websites and over 50 animated Adobe Flash ads, back when it was still a viable platform for web development.
- Specializing in turnkey businesses in a box, Optimal Trends was our largest account.
- Though ultimately turned down because of relocation, I was offered a game content designer role at Blizzard Entertainment in Texas which helped reaffirm my value in the industry.
Sales Lead | 2009-2010 | Latham, New York
The economy was in full-blown recession, marketing budgets had frozen, online shopping was the new normal, and I got to experience firsthand how traditional brick and mortar brands attempted to better connect with consumers as a Sales Lead at Sports Authority. Outside of work, all free time was spent in my own lab devising a plan to get where I wanted to go. In August 2010, I put that plan into action by returning to Florida and enrolling in the Entertainment Business Master's program at my alma mater.
- Regional Sales Conference speaker in 2009 and 2010.
- 1x Top Regional Monthly Footwear Sales.
- 7x Top Store Monthly Footwear Sales.
- 3x Top Store Monthly Fitness Equipment Sales.
- Lead workshops and courses at regional sales conferences designed to level up fellow members of the Sports Authority team.
- I developed a pretty decent golf game thanks to slow weekdays and convenient in-store putting greens and driving range.
Full Sail University
Master's Graduate | 2010-2011 | Winter Park, Florida
As a class, we challenged the leadership of the new Master's program to build better curriculum. For some of us, this constructive back and forth would lead to opportunities at Full Sail University upon graduating. More on that later though. At this time I was striving for a 4.0 GPA, actively consulting, and began working at ESPN.
- Earned Course Director Award for Brand & Storytelling Development from Ken DeGilio who said
Nathan is excellent at building branded experiences that create connections.
- Despite solid brand recognition, competitive offerings, and turning a bit of profit businesses like Sports Authority and TwoThink Studios were fatally flawed. To help build better business and prepare for future economic implosions, I needed a better handle on both. So that's exactly what I did.
Producer | 2011-2012 | Kissimmee, Florida
What was originally an editing gig turned into producing broadcast content for sporting events, sponsored promotions, and special guest segments. My content performed well across their YouTube channels and I was offered more opportunities to create content in my signature style. Awesome as it was, everything, including broadcast, was moving online. I was soon to follow.
- Directed coverage for Twirl Mania 2011, the largest baton twirling competition in the US.
- Produced 2011 Diamond Citrus Classic promos and highlights.
- Production Assistant for the 2011 Tim Tebow and Adam Hubbs Make-A-Wish Foundation Meet & Greet at Disney's ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex.
- Produced 2011 Contest of Champions highlights that reached 90k YouTube views.
- During this time I was also consulting and managing marketing for then Atlanta Brave Craig Kimbrel and then Tampa Bay Ray Matt Joyce through my company. This made covering Spring Training at Disney's ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex even more special. After working on national broadcasts for the MLB I often got to meet both teams while visiting my clients.
Full Sail University
Specialist | 2011-2014 | Winter Park, Florida
An open opportunity at Full Sail University came calling just before graduating with my Master's degree. After reflecting on my long-term goals, the Web Design & Development Bachelor's program was my clear choice. They had decked out facilities with on-site servers, industry rock stars, and students genuinely passionate about crafting awesome online experiences. After 3 wonderful years working with, learning from, and mentoring the brightest in the industry I sought out new challenges. Earning a nice corner office and nifty new title in the process.
- Facilitated and enhanced curriculum across 13 courses including Web Interface & Usability, Designing For Web Standards, and Rich Media Optimization.
- Contributed to over 400 launched web projects.
- My monthly extracurricular lectures covered topics like branding, color theory, and experience design.
- By leveraging Full Sail University's reputation for innovation, our program was able to partner with industry leaders including Designzillas, Push, and Rackspace to provide better career opportunities for graduates at WDDBS.
Director Of Marketing | 2014-2015 | Orlando, Florida
TeleSpeak is a leading provider of cloud, telecommunications, and contact center services in Central Florida. The night before my meeting with one of the company's founders was spent completely redesigning their brand. The next day, what started as a 1-on-1 turned into a group presentation for the leadership team. Shortly after, I received an offer letter and spent the next year actualizing my vision. Glenn Goldberg of Parallel PR said
Nathan's efforts have legitimized TeleSpeak in Central Florida and our industry leaders noticed. He was more right than I knew.
- Increased website traffic by 60% using biweekly email campaigns to 33k subscribers.
- Developed responsive website that reduced average load times from 8 seconds to 2.
- Produced over 15 print ads and authored 7 articles for ChannelVision Magazine.
- Designed TeleSpeak's branded trade show booth and attendee experience. It would win an honorable mention at the ITExpo awards ceremony.
- My redesigned logo was laser-cut, powder-coated, and installed in the lobby at TeleSpeak headquarters.
- Attending ITExpo was my first trip to Las Vegas, Nevada and Fry's Electronics.
- TeleSpeak closed down the AnyWhere division due to licensing issues with its white label provider. I discovered this on my first, and coincidentally last day back to work from my honeymoon. Life's way of testing that "in good times and bad" clause early I suppose. We passed with flying colors.
Senior Experience Designer | 2015 | Tampa, Florida
My accomplishments at TeleSpeak and extensive background in interactive design put me on the radar of Sykes Enterprises, the third-largest contact center services provider in the world. Before long, I was working directly with the executive team as their dedicated Senior Experience Designer and helping them turn long-time boardroom pipe dreams into Sykes Home. When my work at Sykes Enterprises came to a close, another door opened. Specifically, the one to my home office where I spent the next few years building partnerships with brands like Hudson's Furniture, MerchBee, and Tupperware. Once everything was running smoothly, I added heading the Digital Marketing division at Next Horizon into the mix.
- Handled visual, interactive, and experience design components and project management for Sykes Home, a digital platform that supports over 45k active employees and powers their fully remote roles.
- Developed innovation process used for prototyping all internal platforms and led all experience design components of 3 enterprise-scale projects.
- Managed a multi-faceted, globally distributed team of 10 members.
- Standardized usability testing and led test groups as large as 100 users.
- When another team hit a wall implementing a shift switch feature, I sat in on one of their meetings as a favor to the leadership team. About 40 minutes and 3 of my questions in we found a viable solution using the existing time-off request engine. Meaning their project could proceed and deliver that key feature.
Digital Manager | 2018-2019 | Sanford, Florida
Simply put, I empowered Next Horizon to launch more major projects in 12 months than in the previous 2 years combined, including their full 2019 rebrand. Meaningful growth which contributed to them winning OBJ Fast 50 and GrowFL Florida Companies To Watch awards. Despite the successes, they were committed to the antiquated agency approach. I was committed to innovation that grows business. And for me, business was good.
- Sustained a 41% increase in department output for 40 weeks.
- Established branding, collateral, video, and website production processes founded on Agile and Scrum best practices along with my own proven approach.
- Mentored a team of 5 through more than 30 professional certifications combined.
Nathan Rafter Incorporated
Chief Everything Officer | 2005 as Nathan Rafter Unincorporated-Present | Nationwide
After teaching in the nation's most prestigious web program at Full Sail University, contributing to AAA video game launches at EA, having my video production work broadcast across the ESPN networks, and holding many senior creative and project management roles at Fortune 500 companies, it was time. Time to fully invest my energy, experience, and know-how into growing business for the wonderful partners of Nathan Rafter Incorporated. Partners like Hudson's Vacation Interiors, Seminole PowerSports, and VSM Advertising. An inner circle of professionals driven to build better business. Are you driven?
Tools Of The Trade
Having contributed to industry standards across creative, marketing, and business development for over 15 years, I deliver comprehensive solutions founded on viability, scalability, and usability. While this list is by no means complete, it should serve as a helpful snapshot of my capabilities. Seeking something specific? Simply connect with me for assistance.
- 3D Action Cameras
- 4k Video Production
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Audio Production
- Brand Development
- Experience Design
- Motion Graphics
- Responsive Design
- App Store
- Google Analytics
- Google Play
- Online Advertising
- Sprout Social
- Dealer Spike
- Agile Scrum
- Atlassian Jira
- Business Development
- Change Management
- Google Drive
- Peer Mentorship
- Professional Training
- Project Management
- Remote Management
- Servant Leadership
- ADA Compliance
- Application Development
- CSS 3
- Font Awesome
- HTML 5
- PHP 7
- Responsive Development
Latest Success Story
My partners rely on me to reduce headaches, offer clutch solutions, and grow business year-over-year. This is a glimpse into the meaningful work we do together.
Strategy + Compelling Content + Lead Generation
Would you rather invest in more sales staff fighting over your existing foot traffic or turn that payroll into consistent new business that's ready to close? This question helped Seminole PowerSports, Central Florida's premier dealership of performance fun since 1983, generate over $700k in new sales opportunities.
Recent Journal Entry
I pursue creative innovations, develop them into full-fledged professional services, and leverage them to grow others. Here's what I'm passionately pursuing lately.
Guide + Podcast + Video
Instead of wasting more time figuring out which DSLR-style photography camera I wanted to shoot video on, I opted for a go-anywhere, be-anything action camera that makes content creation fun, effective, and affordable. Now you can too!
My Partners Prosper
The best part of growing business is working with my phenomenal partners. We grow together, challenge one another, and share in success. Sound good?
I'm so happy with our new websites from Nathan! He always puts forward the best solutions for each of our communities and exceeds my expectations.
- DLS Partners
Nathan's one-of-a-kind marketing efforts were instrumental to the Hudson's Furniture team winning the HFA Furniture Retailer Of The Year Award.
- Hudson's Furniture
Nathan makes our showroom inventory look amazing and our customers love it. Especially all the new ones that these videos bring into our store.
- Seminole PowerSports