The following text is from an article published by High Velocity Media.
What is Ideas and Pixels?
We’re a web marketing company although we are better known for creating and executing high quality websites. When I first started the company, I made the mistake of telling people that we did web design. Without a doubt, the best decision that we ever made was to start calling ourselves a web marketing agency. I think it’s because people consider marketing an actionable, proactive thing, while getting a website made sounds passive and static. We have a lot more to offer companies than just building them a site.
How did you come up with the idea?
It was 1997, I was 9-years-old, and the realization that the internet was probably going to be around for the foreseeable future was just coming to fruition for most people. Microsoft had just released the newest version of their budding Windows platform, and like millions of other middle-class American families thriving through the booming 90s, my family had just purchased our first home computer.
“This internet thing is going to be big. You just wait and see,” my dad would tell me. “And the best part about it is that if you start learning it now, you’ll be two steps ahead of most adults. They barely even teach this stuff in college yet. Heck, you have a chance to be better than the teachers that will be teaching this years from now.”
Eventually that really began to make sense. After much poking and prodding, I finally accepted his logic, and went with him to purchase my first book, Web Design for Dummies. It’s very ironic in retrospect. I read a book called For Dummies, and it was the smartest decision I ever made in my life.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
Finding out how much of a micro-manager I was. That and actually getting out of the way of the expansion of our business. I think when you work 12-hour days building up a company from nothing, it becomes very dear to you–almost too dear. And when it comes time to relinquish tasks to others, we all have a tendency to hover over shoulders, making sure things get done right. But you can only hover over so many shoulders until you’re stretched thin, and your business suffers because of it. Letting go isn’t easy, but it’s necessary for strong growth.
Where did you find your first employee?
When Ideas and Pixels was a one man show, I would occasionally hire out developers from websites like Elance, but eventually I realized that there were some things that had to be handled in-person, so I set out looking for someone with a vision and drive. Don’t let me confuse you; that also meant someone who would work on the cheap with the promise of a shared future of success.
I finally began working with a friend that I had went to high school and college with, Matt Valvano. We had known each other for many years, but had somehow never realized that we both worked in the same field. After a few conversations over coffee, I knew I had my business partner.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
Each day couldn’t be more different. I can tell you that it always starts and ends with emails, really early and very late, respectively.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
We enjoy working in Ohio with other Ohio businesses. Coming from Cincinnati, a city with both a major league baseball and football team, hometown pride has never been hard to come by, and I think that’s probably the greatest advantage. People in Cincinnati, in Ohio for that matter, have a certain respect for their neighbors. When we do business with those companies in and around our city, we never miss a chance to chat about last night’s game or talk about next week’s marathon. I think the personal and professional camaraderie you get from that really does have value.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
The first time someone from Dayton told me they had heard of our company, which was pretty amazing. Then from Louisville, followed by some partners from Cleveland. Knowing people hundreds of miles away are hearing about the work we’re doing is very exciting for me.
What inspires you?
That’s a tough question. Political events inspire me. I think that the world of business is changing. It’s becoming much leaner, more efficient, and cutthroat, and unfortunately, creating gross disparities in wages between owners and their workers.
I once watched a documentary about a company whose CEO made roughly the same amount as even the lowest paid worker, effectively allowing everyone at the company to have decent, stable pay. Everyone who worked at the company held private stock in it, and consequently, everyone cared deeply about how it performed. I would like our company to follow a similar model, and inspire other companies to consider doing it as well.
What founders do you admire and why?
I admire when a mother who has lost her child to leukemia starts a charity run to collect money for research, or when a sister sells cookies and cakes at her school to help her injured brother coming home from the Middle East. Dedicating so much time, money, and care to help others so that they may spare others the pain that they went through seems awfully admirable to me.
What’s next for you?
With enough luck, a vacation!