I’d just walked away from an extremely lucrative job while I was still an undergrad student at UTC because I wanted to create my own business and focus on the same things I did for other people, but with all the risk and reward. During the summer of 2003, I launched Lakesite.Net as an extension of my interests in programming services and hosting.
Previous to that, I built out two ISPs that also focused on providing hosting services. I had fun working with the Internet Systems Consortium Berkeley Internet Name Domain Bind DNS software, in addition to a host of open source tools used for Internet and network infrastructure (NTP, DHCP, DNS, etc). I was fortunate enough to be delegated authority over reverse DNS for my static IP and connection with ISDN, which allowed me to run DNS for a small ISP out of Hawaii that hosted web sites and shell accounts.
I also had my first commercial software development experience working on quotation software for insurance agencies out of Hartford, CT where I was introduced to some good and bad habits. I thought I could do a better job, and so I started my official entrepreneurial adventure with a sole proprietorship.
Because I formed the equivalent of a digital agency (di) with my business partner Kim within a few years of collaborating with her on various projects that complimented our strengths/weaknesses, I left Lakesite.Net in the same original state from 2003 until just recently. This is partially because of positioning, and because I want to do more programming services that aren’t so creative (and focus on open source business models), while putting my creative efforts into di. So now I need to actually promote what Lakesite does in a completely separate way than what Kim and I do through di. I see this as a great opportunity to also try a few things I wouldn’t normally do, and bring those experiences back to di.
I see my now LLC as an experiment in recalibrating my own professional development and marketing efforts that I’ll bring back to the table in di during our own website update. Thinking about Lakesite’s client welcome packet which needs so much work, will compliment the same updates we’ll go through on di, since we now use a few different tools and processes. While actual agile software development practices have become broadly accepted, most small business customers want to manage their risk with a set quote or package, which is separate from the kind of programming services I’m more directly involved with.
When we first started working together, I remember thinking that for work we felt would take more than three months to finish, there’s no way we’d manage risk with any kind of rigidity. For smaller projects, clients want you to take the risk up front and quote them out a set of features for a given price that meet a level of quality. Many agencies and software developers will cut corners because, they’re putting a bow on a package and letting it go, to become someone else’s problem later. At di, we’ve been quick to differentiate between a short term marketing effort and a long term investment in a project that saves time and money. This helps.
I see a need for a separate position and personality between two of my companies. For product development, marketing, front-end development, digital strategy and design, and certain types of startup consulting I want to bring clients into di. For pure programming services and consulting related to closer to engineering practices, Lakesite gives me more flexibility to try things that might fail, and ultimately bring that success to a larger team.