Celebrating Minority Business Ownership with Rob Pero
Updated: May 10, 2021
Minority-owned businesses not only play an important role in national and local economies, but historically, they drive innovation and foster community development by extending jobs to other minorities. Minority business owners also have unique perspectives and experiences to bring to their companies, and often meet the needs of their communities through their products or services. In addition, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People Of Color) entering entrepreneurship roles only helps strengthen social equity in business markets.
The owner of Perodigm, Rob Pero, is a member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians. As a minority business owner, he truly loves what he does for a living and prides himself on providing clients with expert consulting, dynamic visual media, and engaging digital services. (Rob does admit there is an element of fragility that goes along with being an entrepreneur, but that it's worth grinding and hustling for.)
It has been a long, winding road to success for Rob. This non-linear path has led to an array of professional experiences and subsequently, impactful accomplishments including Marketplace's Outstanding Small Business Award. His initial passion was in art and design; from childhood, he was always drawing, building, and imagining. When he first attempted to go to school for his passion, he didn't quite do well academically and learned a lot of hard life lessons. He ultimately ended up following in his family's footsteps by joining the military and adopted a newfound lease on life.
Through the course of his service in the Navy, he did a lot of growing up. After an honorable discharge, it was time for him to go back to school for Architectural Design and get a job in the field. Even though this career choice offered stability for Rob and his new family, he grew tired of working out of a cubical and found himself striving for more flexibility. Upon the recommendation from friends in the industry, he got into insurance sales where he had a successful career and worked his way up to the corporate leadership level. The relationship-building skills he learned in that role proved to be valuable for his future as a business owner.
At this point, Rob had to do some soul searching but ultimately ended up quitting sales and putting his creative hat back on. He enrolled in the graphic design program at Full Sail University and rebuilt a skillset he had a ton of passion for his entire life. He worked with a production and media company as a contractor, gained his own client base, and refined a business plan for his own enterprise. His journey as a business owner officially started in 2012 when he started Perodigm. An office in Downtown Cambridge was secured in 2015 and Rob and his team proudly built the company to where it is now - a small media agency that has the scalable capability to work on nationwide and local campaigns.
Rob appreciates that everyone has their unique perspective on life, so he decided to start Perodigm as a platform for clients to shine and to share stories with their audience. Perodigm's ultimate goal is to help clients grow by supporting and advocating for them. For Perodigm and his other businesses (Canndigenous and Ripley Green), Rob follows a special philosophy and has a commitment to do everything "in a good way."
When starting Perodigm, Rob wasn't aware of the opportunities available to Native-owned and minority-owned businesses until he started networking with other businesses in the American Indian Chamber of Commerce. Chamber leaders recommended he become a state-certified MBE (Minority Business Executive), which gives more opportunities for contracting and initiatives that support minority-owned businesses.
The playing field has never been level in the U.S., so opportunities for BIPOC to develop and grow businesses while also creating legacies and financial security for their families are vital. Racism, discrimination, and assimilation have all played a part in unequal power dynamics. The empowerment of minority-owned businesses is a positive step forward towards representation and provides examples of success in marginalized communities.
The most impactful and powerful work he's done at Perodigm is through Your Call MN, a sex trafficking awareness campaign for the state of Minnesota with specific impacts in tribal communities. The campaign does the tough work of "empowering good people and holding bad people accountable." The stories he's heard from survivors and what they've had to endure made him realize that this campaign is more than a job; it's something that he cares deeply about on a more human level.
The campaign provides a perspective and narrative in a delicate, sensitive, compelling, yet digestible way. It's a challenge to be tactical and get people to listen when human trafficking is such an uncomfortable topic and a problem that will unfortunately never be solved. But still, he and his team are honored to help people and be a part of an ongoing solution. Beyond Your Call MN, empowering fellow Native businesses and advocating for Native causes is important to Rob and the Perodigm team. He sees it as a revolution for Indigenous people from all generations to build businesses, create their own narratives, and share their own stories. To Rob, because of his dad passing away when he was young, his Native ancestry provides a strong connection to his father. This loss resulted in him searching for more answers about his family's history and finding the beauty of the Bad River culture. Even though he didn't live a traditional life on a reservation, he is still proud of his heritage and tries to be as connected as he can be. He enjoys passing stories down to his four children to carry on this legacy.
In the next 5-10 years, Rob hopes to continue to grow by helping other businesses grow. To do this, he plans on bringing individuals to the team that are also passionate about building lasting relationships and partnerships. He wholeheartedly welcomes challenging, difficult projects with a diverse array of clients. All in all, Rob just wants to feel good about the work he's doing, leave behind a cool legacy of impacts, and make a difference by leaving the world in a better place.