We had the good fortune of connecting with Tom DeRosa and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tom, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
The Rio Grande Valley is one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the country. It has a unique and vibrant culture rooted the history and traditions of Mexico, Texas and the border region itself. Before the agency started, I had helped launch What McAllen, an online guide to everything happening in and around the city. The goal was to promote the arts, local businesses, and the many nonprofits working to improve the RGV. We wanted to put a spotlight on this beautiful place and show everyone that we have as much to offer as bigger cities. When Ridge Road Media launched and we started doing social media marketing for local businesses, the goal was the same: support our community and help it continue to grow. Narratives about our city and region are frequently written by people who have no real knowledge or connection to us. We have been working to amplify the real stories and real people that make up our community.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Before I started my social media marketing agency, Ridge Road Media, I first helped launch What McAllen, an online guide to the city and the entire Rio Grande Valley. My work there caught the attention of the owner of Roosevelt’s at 7, the first craft beer bar and restaurant in McAllen, who asked me to manage social media for their rabid and rapidly growing online following. My work at Roosevelt’s quickly turned into more freelance jobs, and soon my path was clear. After two years of freelance positions, I officially launched my business and I was fortunate that it continued to grow.

Of course, there have been many challenges. When clients are looking to cut costs, marketing is usually the first thing on the chopping block, leading to unpredictability and turnover. I have had to work to network and find new clients on a consistent basis, something the pandemic has brought to a complete halt. While my business has been profitable from day one, I have not experienced the level of growth I had hoped for. Before I got married and started a family, I was able to work at my agency full time, handle a large portfolio of clients and support myself comfortably.

When my wife got pregnant with our first child, it was clear that what I was making from the agency was not going to be enough to support a family. I have had to take on full time jobs while continuing my agency work on the side. It is an incredible challenge, but I believe I am on a long term path where I will be able to focus solely on my business and continue on far into the future.

I think some people would be in my position and see the business as a failure. I read so much about entrepreneurship before I started (and still do), and you might come away from the magazines and blogs and tweets with this idea that if your business doesn’t explode and take over the world, you’re failing. My business, despite its challenges, is not a failure. In a culture where everyone is looking for a successful side hustle, I have built a real business that has been a reliable source of income for seven years with no end in sight.

If there’s one lesson I would want people to take away from my story, it’s that you are the one who must define success for your career.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Taking newcomers to my favorite spots in McAllen is a uniquely satisfying experience. Roosevelt’s at 7 is a great spot for lunch and a variety of craft beers. For dinner, there are so many options to give you a true taste of the Valley: SALT New American Table, Bodega Tavern & Kitchen and The Blue Onion are some of my favorites. There are also too many great taquerias to mention, but we’d probably head to Mile 5 in Mission for some of the very best.

We would have to visit one of the Valley’s great nature centers, like the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in Alamo, Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen and the National Butterfly Center in Mission. Our region is a worldwide destination for birding and plays host to a variety of wildlife.

A trip to the Valley wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the pulga for shopping, food, and maybe some music, dancing or even some lucha libre. The Pulga de Alamo or Pulga Los Portales in Alton would be at the top of my list.

For nightlife, there is every kind of place you could want to visit in downtown McAllen along 17th St. I would probably insist on taking you to my favorites–the historic Cine El Rey, The Flying Walrus and Suerte among others. We wouldn’t stay downtown, though, because we would simply have to dance the night away to 80s music at Deloreans in McAllen.

If we had time, we would definitely head to South Padre Island to enjoy the beach and the warm waters of the Gulf, visit Sea Turtle Inc and all the animals they’ve rescued, grab a pint at the Padre Island Brewing Company and watch the sunset over the bay at any one of the great restaurants along the water.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss is one of the biggest reasons I finally took the leap to become an entrepreneur and start my own business. I don’t work four hours per week, of course, but the driving principles and concepts Ferriss outlines in the book helped me forge my own path and believe it was possible.

Website: www.ridgeroadmedia.net

Instagram: instagram.com/ridgeroadmedia

Twitter: twitter.com/ridgeroadmedia

Facebook: facebook.com/ridgeroadmedia

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.