New Jersey


Alumnus uses relationship-building skills he learned at Saint Leo to grow digital marketing business.

Five doctors are sitting at a bar … No, it’s not the punchline to a joke. It is how Saint Leo University alumnus Billy Ash ’11 took his digital marketing business into the medical realm.

At the time, Ash and his business partner, former NFL player Tom Ottaiano, were working above a pizzeria and bar owned by Ottaiano’s father. They had finished work and were sitting at the bar when they struck up a conversation with five OB-GYNs. Before they left that night, the doctors agreed to sign with their company, Today’s Business, and Ash and Ottaiano had agreed to travel with the doctors to a Las Vegas convention to pitch the company and how other doctors could use their company’s services.

Social media was new, and they were on the cutting edge when it came to marketing companies using Facebook and Twitter.

“We told them, ‘What is the first thing people do when they have a baby? They post it on Facebook,’” Ash said, remembering that conversation. “If the doctors are named in that post, their business will grow. Nobody else was doing that. We knew social media was not going away and companies needed someone to manage it for them.”

Now, Today’s Business brings in about $5 million annually. Ash attributes much of its success to relationship-building, something he fine-tuned while attending Saint Leo. The business also is now fully remote — no more pepperoni wafting to the office upstairs.

Billy Ash ’11Ash and Ottaiano opened Today’s Business in 2011 in New Jersey after friends convinced Ash he should follow his passion, the growing field of social media. That same year, Ash graduated from Saint Leo with a bachelor’s in business management.

The two first worked at running networking events, with Ash using email to invite attendees, then setting up a website to market the events and allow those interested to register. It was a whole new way of marketing, and people were impressed.

“Everybody was very interested in how we got them there,” Ash recalled. “It didn’t take us long to realize networking wasn’t really our route. We changed drastically and became a social media company selling services to any company out there. We ran their Facebook and Twitter accounts, organically posting for the companies.”

One of the earliest big-name clients Today’s Business signed was Cablevision in the New York City area, which was one of the largest cable and television companies in the nation. Three months later, Super Storm Sandy hit, and the two found themselves using cell phones — there was no power — to issue reports to Cablevision on who needed services. They connected the company with its customers.

“We became the social media guys,” Ash said.

The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers heard the Today’s Business pitch and immediately bought into it. “We monitor all their accounts from 6 to 11 p.m. when social media is busiest,” Ash said. “We started doing game-day reports. If a fan was complaining, we could have someone in the arena there within 15 minutes to resolve the issue.” Tweets were replied to instantly, in order to increase customer satisfaction.

Today’s Business examines an organization’s needs and builds social media, websites, and influencer marketing to meet those needs, in turn gaining new customers based on their success, Ash said. “We stay in our lane and do what we do best.”

The digital marketing company does not have a sales team. It grows through word of mouth and relationship- building, Ash said. “Surround yourself with the correct people. I learned that at Saint Leo. I learned how to cultivate relationships.”

One of the company’s biggest clients, Red Rover®, a moving and storage company, came to Today’s Business through Joe Fortunato, Ash’s freshman roommate at Saint Leo.

It also signed Netflix, focusing on the streaming service’s new shops. They work with media conglomerates to place Netflix in publications such as Rolling Stone, Ebony, and Business Insider. They utilize affiliate marketing, an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate leads to the company’s products.

Early on, Today’s Business started an internship program that has turned into its greatest source of new employees — employees who Ash and Ottaiano trained themselves. Today, 40% to 60% of the company’s 35 employees are former interns, Ash said.

Everyone works remotely, including employees from 13 states and Washington, D.C.

“We are a marketing company that does not have to market our company,” Ash said. “It is built entirely on relationships. Real relationships. That is what I cultivated and grew based on my experience at Saint Leo. Being in a remote environment has changed the way we think about relationships. In the past, we used to have to travel five hours to visit a client. Now that we are completely remote, it makes us much more accessible to our clients, and they can meet with our strategists face-to-face with one click of a button. It allows us to build on those relationships.”

Ash served as a resident assistant while at the university and built good relationships with the students in the residence halls he supervised. He was a member of Kappa Theta fraternity and formed more connections there.

“I learned the importance of being honest, holding yourself accountable,” he said.

Professors at Saint Leo cared more about their students than if they passed or failed, Ash continued. But, “They would get disappointed if you did not get an assignment in or did not do your best. I still talk to my teachers, even the one who pushed me hardest to get everything done. Her name was Dr. Barbara Caldwell [professor of economics]. She is retired now, but still involved with Saint Leo.”

Today, when Ash is meeting with his team, he thinks about the accountability he learned at Saint Leo. “The thing that has kept us going is our relationships.”

Get Involved

Billy Ash gives back to the university by serving on the Saint Leo University Alumni Association Board of Directors. If you are interested in learning more about alumni volunteer opportunities, please contact alumni.engagement@saintleo.edu.

Saint Leo University’s governing board is a group of volunteers who exemplify the university’s six core values. They all give generously of their time, talent, and treasure to enhance the education our students receive. This year, we welcome eight new members to the board. Click the photos to learn more.


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Peter Biscardi ’70 graduated from Saint Leo College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and went on to hold a number of management positions in the automobile industry. These include positions at the Hertz Corporation, as well as president and then partner at National Auto Care Corporation. He was also city manager at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. An avid sports fan, he remains a loyal supporter of Saint Leo Lions Athletics. Since retiring, he continues to be active as a business consultant and is involved in local charities. He and his wife, Linda, live in Bonita Springs, FL, and maintain part-time residences in New York City and Dublin, OH. They have two grown children and a grandson.

adamson_katieKatie Adamson
Volleyball • Senior
Nelson, New Zealand
The middle blocker was a force at the net in the 2015 season, leading the team in both total blocks, at 103, and blocks per set, averaging 0.87. She tallied a career-high eight blocks in three different matches last season. Offensively, Adamson put away a total of 159 kills in 2015, tallying a career-best 11 against Eckerd College (FL). As one of three seniors, Adamson will help the young Lions squad build off a 21-11 season and an NCAA Second Round appearance.


hannah-beardHannah Beard
Women’s Soccer • Class of 2010
Grassendale, Liverpool, England
Hannah Beard is a former Lions women’s soccer player. Originally from England, she is playing professionally with the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Australian W-League. She was one of the best players in program history to date, winning several individual honors and helping the team reach the NCAA tournament in each of her four years at Saint Leo, and the program’s first Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship.


tyreece-briceTyreece Brice
Men’s Basketball • Junior
Rock Hill, SC
Tyreece Brice made an instant impact on the court for the Lions in the 2015-16 season as the sixth man. Brice averaged the second most points on the team, 15.5 per game, and finished the season as a 2015-16 Sunshine State Conference All-Newcomer team selection. He played in 31 games with 14 starts and tallied 481 points in 977 minutes for the Lions. Along with his 15.5 points per game, Brice averaged 4.2 rebounds per game and 3.6 assists per game. Brice scored a career-high 31 points against Alabama-Huntsville in the first round of the NCAA South Regional tournament. Brice helped lead the Lions to a 19-12 record and a fourth-place finish in the SSC with a 10-6 mark.


sommer-pollardSommer Pollard
Softball • Junior
Clearwater, FL
Sommer Pollard was the everyday starter behind the dish for the No. 1 pitching staff in all of Division II, owning a 0.93 earned run average. Pollard played in all 47 games, with a .991 fielding percentage with only three errors on the season. She recorded 300 putouts behind the plate, with 19 assists. A Second Team All-Sunshine State Conference selection, Pollard finished the season with a .366 batting average (41 hits in 112 at-bats) while scoring 24 runs and driving in 17. She recorded one triple during her sophomore campaign against Colorado Christian, where she went 2-for-2 from the plate. Pollard recorded 15 stolen bases over the course of the season.


rivera_brandonBrandon Rivera
Men’s Soccer • Senior
Orlando, FL
The local product out of Lake Nona High School in south Orlando has come a long way since his freshman season when he saw action in just two matches. In fact, in his junior campaign, Rivera saw action in all 18 games for the SSC regular season champion, including making 13 starts. He scored a career-best four goals on the season, adding a career-high four assists, including his first career assist that came against Lees-McRae (NC) in a 4-1 victory where the midfielder saw three passes find the foot of the goal scorer. Rivera’s breakout game came in the SSC Tournament Semifinals, where he tallied two goals in the Lions 2-1 win over the 2014 reigning NCAA National Champion Lynn (FL), earning himself a spot on the SSC Tournament team.


maftuna-tuhtasinovaMaftuna Tuhtasinova
Women’s Swimming • Sophomore
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
A native of Uzbekistan, Maftuna Tuhtasinova competed in the final four regular season events and the Sunshine State Conference Championship for women’s swimming and made an immediate impact on the team. The freshman was a finalist in three events at the SSC meet, including a third-place finish in the 200 Backstroke with an NCAA “B” cut mark and Saint Leo record time of 2:02.01. Her 100 backstroke time also qualified as an NCAA “B” cut time, and Maftuna was a part of 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay teams that set new Saint Leo records.


zach-whitakerZach Whitaker
Baseball • Senior
Land O’Lakes, FL
Zach Whitaker was Saint Leo’s top pitcher in 2016, recording a 4.38 earned run average over 72.0 innings pitched, with a 6-1 record and one save. He finished among the top 10 in the Sunshine State Conference in ERA, and held opponents to a .277 batting average. Whitaker fanned 62 batters over the course of the 2016 season, tied for most on the team.


jim_cerbieJim Cerbie ’79 got his 400th win as head baseball coach for The Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC, on April 5, 2016. During his 29-year baseball coaching career at Providence Day, he has seen 28 of his players sign to play college baseball at some of the most prestigious programs and schools in the country.

jim-jacobsenJames Jacobsen ’70 is the golf coach at Bergen Catholic High School (NJ), where he won his 1,000th match on April 22, 2016. This gave him an overall 34-year coaching record of 1023-33-1. He was named Coach of the Year by the Star Ledger, The Record, and The Bergen County Coaches Association.