NVCC graduate Michael Gatobu, owner of Skytech, and Donna Marotti, professor of finance at the Meriden Westfield Shopping Mall.
(Waterbury, CT) - At 23 years old, Naugatuck Valley Community College graduate Michael Gatobu is the president of his own advertising company, Skytech Ads, LLC. What began as a young man’s dream of owning his own business became a reality right here in Waterbury, CT.
Michael began his journey in 2005 when his family moved from Nyrobi, Kenya to Waterbury. Michael was just 16 at the time. He graduated from Kennedy High School before attending Naugatuck Valley Community College with the dream of bringing a prosperous business back to his home country.
Michael’s entrepreneurial spirit gave him a thirst for knowledge and success but he needed guidance to steer him toward the degree that would help him achieve his goals.
“I knew I wanted to learn about business and money but I wasn’t sure which degree was right for me,” said Michael. It was during his second semester that he met Professor Donna Marotti while taking a financial accounting course.
“I knew from that first course that she was someone who believed in me,” said Michael.
According to Marotti, Michael’s ambition and growth potential was clear from the beginning and she quickly set to work finding out how she could help. “My job as an advisor is to find out what students’ goals are and work with them to find the degree that will give them the tools they need to fulfill their career dreams,” said Marotti.
For Michael, a caring mentor was exactly what he needed. “She was always pushing me to stay in school and do well, despite my doubts that it was worth my while.” said Michael.
While he worked toward his degree, Michael was also working two jobs and helping to support his family. By taking his time and keeping with it, Michael persevered and received an A.S. in Business Finance from Naugatuck Valley Community College in 2012.
Now, Michael is selling businesses a modern, interactive marketing approach that has attracted mass attention. After initially executing a contract with the Meriden Westfield Mall in early August, he is now planning to pitch his product to other venues and create more portable versions of his equipment to market to Daycare centers and other educational institutions.
In the Sky Floor display, advertising images shoot downward onto the floor from a projector. When patrons walk over the advertisements, special effects draw their eyes and ears downward to the advertisement, which responds to their steps and movements with interactive, game-like features.
PETALS EFFECT: using your movments and actions, you can move the petals away to reveal the content underneath. Photo copyright: Skytech Ads, LLC.
“I did my research and decided on an advertising business,” said Michael. “I knew I’d have to find a niche, something no one else was doing.”
Michael has kept in touch with Professor Marotti since graduating and when he approached her for advice she was more than willing to help him prepare. “I was really nervous about making my presentation to the manager, but Donna helped me every step of the way,” said Michael.
Michael says his experience at Naugatuck Valley gave him the confidence to approach high-level people to pitch his business idea. “I used to shake when speaking in front of people in my communications class,” said Michael, “but now I have the confidence I need to make these presentations. I encourage my friends to go to a community college like NVCC.”
"I am so proud of Michael and his partners,” said Marotti. “I have watched him evolve and grow from a uncertain freshman to a successful graduate of NVCC. He is a testament to the learner-centric environment that we foster in our institution. We work hard to keep our students connected to faculty and the College’s mission and vision. It is so exciting!"
Watch for more information about Skytech as we continue to follow their progress!