Nate Mehren, owner
What’s the best way to learn a task? Read a manual? Personal instruction? Go online and watch a video? Nate Mehren is betting on a video and online interactions. “Humans are visual learners,” said Mehren, owner and founder of Neunoia (pronounced “new-noya”), a web-based training business at 3934 West River Drive in downtown Comstock Park. “They learn by reading books…they learn better by watching.”
Neunoia is a form of “eunoia” which is from the Latin for “beautiful thinking.” Neunoia is a digital media company that focuses on e-learning, corporate learning strategy and consulting, multimedia creation, training and development, custom creative messaging, and support materials. Mehren provides e-learning modules to universities, businesses, non-profits, and government agencies, as well as health care providers. For instance, the Affordable Care Act has mandated technology upgrades to bring down costs, and Mehren and his team develop online trainings in those technologies for their health care customers. Mehren said that e-learning, or online instructional videos, provide faster learning and increased retention compared to instructor-led training. For example, an employee training another employee in a procedure may pass on bad habits that could end up costing a company money, whereas online learning is presented consistently and correctly to each learner.
There are five full-time employees at Neunoia, and Mehren uses a pool of contractors including writers, photographers, motion graphics artists, and course builders. Mehren said he relies primarily on word of mouth and social media for advertising.
Mehren owned a recording studio called Soundwerks for seven years when he founded Neunoia in 2010 in the basement of his Comstock Park home. In 2012 he moved to his current location, a building that is an icon in the community. Built in 1923, it was originally a lumber company owned by one of the early families in the area. It was sold in 1957 and became a grocery store that changed hands several times until the building was completely renovated in 2009 and turned into California-style office space. It’s still referred to as “the old Comstock Park Foods building.”
Mehren is more than happy with his new location, especially the reasonable cost of his lease. “We want to provide good price points to our customers,” said Mehren. “For us, downtown Grand Rapids is just too much overhead…the cost of doing business is simply more reasonable here.” Mehren said he also likes the environment he works and lives in. “We have a community that’s easy to be a part of, and that’s something we value,” he said, adding that his customers from the east side of the state are impressed with affordable restaurants within walking distance, and that everyone knows each other. Plus there’s plenty of free parking.
Mehren is originally from Gladwin and St. Johns, Michigan, graduating from St. Johns High School. After high school, Mehren enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in Washington DC, serving for almost four years. He attended Aquinas College where he earned a degree in history with a minor in literature. Mehren and his wife Jody, who have two sons ages 11 and 8, live in Comstock Park. Mehren said he enjoys family time and coaching rocket football. He also enjoys music and keeps his guitar at work.
Mehren and his team do a lot of pro gratis work such as filming programs for Comstock Park schools, video work for Open Hearts Ministry in Kalamazoo, and a recent film about In the Image in Grand Rapids, all of which Mehren said “helps us find purpose.”