Mindscape Creative Delivers Return on Investment

March 21, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — They absolutely love it.

Their job that is. Paul Ferrier and Pete Brand recently started Mindscape Creative, a web design firm that specializes in return on investment.

With a new focus, a spring in their step and a fresh set of ideas the two recently joined forces to provide various services, including web development, logo identity, application programming and web hosting, to customers.

After a change in direction and a change in focus, Ferrier and Brand departed from WWWEBSPINNERS, a Muskegon web development company still led by Anthony Blair. Upon their departure, Ferrier and Brand brought with them Steve Olson in the creative department and Mark Swanson in application programming.

The new company was born in Nov. 2001 and after only three months in business, has serviced numerous clients and developed a focus strategy for which to target. “Our main focus is on return on investment,” said Ferrier. “When we are putting together proposals, included in those proposals are a way for the client to get out of it what they put in. We want to strategize for them where they are going to see that $3 to 4,000 and how.”

“We want everyone on the web,” said Brand.   

And with that focus Mindscape Creative set out to conquer Michigan and on its way show clients how a home-base right here in Grand Rapids can make a world of difference. “This is a great city, I just love it way too much to leave,” said Brand. “But that isn’t a bad thing, we can service our clients here, it isn’t so much about location as it is about service and people and we are so proud of our people.”

Brand added that as business continues to swarm, soon will new employment opportunities. “I think we are going to bring a lot of employment opportunities to the area because we are going to be looking for sales people, programmers and many creative people to assist our clients and working on different projects with us. “We have taken our company to a place where it is more appealing on a national level,” said Brand. “A lot of our work is comparable to work done by larger firms but we are more affordable because we don’t have the overhead and we aren’t out there gouging the customer.”

“We are not turning our backs on any market. A lot of what we do is a product that can be used in many markets and we want to make sure we make ourselves available to all of those markets.”

Clients that include firms in Seattle, California, Muskegon and Grand Rapids, and new projects that currently out-number employees.

One problem Brand and Ferrier found that many small to medium sized businesses were up against was the lack of capital to put up for a site that would both do what the company needed and look professional. As a solution, Ferrier came up with “Creative Web Site Leasing.”

“Web sites depreciate faster than cars. When someone designs a site, it goes into the browser, and people begin to visit, they are going to visit once and maybe again but if that site doesn’t change, people will get bored and they won’t come back,” said Brand. “What Paul has designed is a way for companies to have a small set-up site where they pay a monthly fee for say a two month period and then they have free reign to make changes and it is all built into a package.”

The beauty of the deal is that a small toy store in Rockford can soon have the appearance of an FAO Schwarz in Manhattan, not to mention saving nearly $10,000 to $20,000 on the cost of the creation of the site.

“That is the wonderful part about the web, your shop on the corner can look the size of a corporation in New York, however, you need the same amount of money in most arenas,” said Ferrier. “What we have done is leveled the playing field so the customer doesn’t have to come out with a big chunk of money.”

Upon the end of the lease, the site belongs to the customer, and is free to renew the lease, dissolve it or purchase the site.

Another option small to medium businesses without a lot of capital to spend on a web site have is to develop a free web site. “No matter if the site is free, leased or owned, the design is very professional,” Brand said. “We are still design focused and we are not going to put anything out there that we are not going to put our name on.”

An exciting factor for Mindscape Creative is that customers are starting to see the value of the web. “I talked to three companies right after the first of the year that said ‘we want to do it, we know we have to do it but we just can’t afford it, we took a 40 percent hit last year.’ Then I brought up this concept and they got all fired up and actually built larger than they thought they would,” said Brand.

For many of Mindscape Creative’s clients who are busy and constantly on the go, an application was needed to keep up with schedules but still be able to communicate from the road. The program has been designed for a lawyer, engineer, consultant, sales person or anyone that is project driven and allows the customer to take a cell phone and punch in on a project. The program will then keep time and run it until the customer punches out in the same manner.

The customer is then able to go in on their PC and pick the company, the specific project and completely track the time they took on the project.

“This way they will be able to automatically spit out a bill or a report to the client that will tell them everything they have done on that particular project,” explained Brand. “For sales people there will be a component were the sales manager can track their whole sales force and customer base and what steps they’ve taken, all over the phone.”

An additional component the company has going on is a build-it-yourself component where the client is able to design everything, starting with the domain name and moving all the way up to the design of graphics and wording. The client will be able to set up the site and manage the site, if they have knowledge of Microsoft Word.

“They will be able to use our designs, which will give them a professional look and it will also make it easier and faster for them to change the site as they want, instead of having to get a hold of us they will simply be able to access the site, change a few words or graphics just like that,” said Ferrier. “This is just another example of return on investment, some people are very interested in this and we are giving them the option to have a certain amount of control over their site.”

Making sure to create an atmosphere that is more of a round-table for discussion than a corporate society, Ferrier and Brand admit they are even happy to work the 14-hour days. “We love what we do,” said Ferrier. “And we are basically giving everyone the opportunity to get on the web, in whatever capacity they are looking for, that is the beauty of this whole operation.”                       

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