His eclectic career continued at Saunders Farm, where he helped the farm turn to social media after his boss reduced the advertising budget to zero.
Using online loyalty programs and one of the first Groupon offers in Ottawa, Mr. Hale discovered there was money to be made through social marketing.
After attending Algonquin College's business marketing program, he launched Soshal Group, a company that helps businesses manage their social media and provides metrics measuring social activity and resulting revenue.
The No. 1 reason why businesses say they aren't more active on social channels is because they aren't seeing a return, Mr. Hale says.
"I thought this was ridiculous," he says. "There are no better channels that you can track and analyze everything that happens ... If you're not seeing a return, maybe you're just doing it wrong."
Once Mr. Hale realized that many large companies were still clueless about social media, he was able to acquire clients including Algonquin College, Carleton University, CHEO and the Canadian Hockey League. Partnerships with ad agencies outsourcing their social media to Soshal Group made up about 50 per cent of its business when it launched.
People say consumers don’t want to be advertised to. I actually think people love advertising, you just have to serve it up to them in a format they want to interact with. - Soshal Group CEO Dave Hale
This year, the focus will be creating relationships with Canada's largest media companies, Mr. Hale says, and to continue working with education, retail and health-care customers.
Soshal Group recently developed an informal advisory board of four ad agency executives as well as Ottawa's Rob Woodbridge, former president and CEO of Rove Inc.
The seven employees working for Soshal Group will move to the corner of Holland Avenue and Wellington Street West this spring, and Mr. Hale says he hopes to have 20 employees and two offices by the end of 2012.
About half of Soshal Group's business comes from Toronto, which is where the second office will be located by summertime.
The company has received no external funding, and Mr. Hale isn't looking for it.
"It was never necessary," he says. "If we couldn't sell what we were selling from day one, then it wasn't going to happen."
Year founded: 2010
Local head count: 7
Funding to date: Bootstrapped
Product: Social media monitoring and analysis for businesses