Born in 1998
I recently came to the realization that 2018 marks Co-Op Web, Inc.’s 20th birthday! So much has changed since 1998, as there were no iPhones, iPads, apps or Facebook, and Yahoo was the main search engine. My co-workers were previously with AOL, yeah, it was still huge then and we still had to explain to businesses, why they needed a website. We would register our domains for free at InterNIC (Network Solutions) and our websites had to be built from scratch, by learning actual coding and optimizing graphics by hand, so they wouldn’t slow down the site’s loading time on a dial-up connection of 14.4k.
By 1998, I had already spent four years training at two ISPs, where I was the oldest living female in the industry. Or, at least felt like it when I was one of the few people in the office old enough to rent a car. The Internet was an adventure being trekked by the young and brilliant at the time. I felt ready to don my business-owner’s hat (again) and branch out on my own. I started with ONE client at that time, the Tucson Osteopathic Medical Foundation, and rapidly grew at a healthy rate until September 11, 2001.
Many of our clients in 2001 were in the hospitality industry. We worked with two major resort chains in the US and Mexico and when those two aircraft flew into our World Trade Towers and terrorized our country, our phone stopped ringing. I was in a trance that whole month of September, so I didn’t mind it. However, this major event made me stop and think. And most of all, it made me re-evaluate my business model. I started focusing on local businesses and for the upcoming 10 years (2001 – 2011) that was where Co-Op Web thrived. However, already during that time business was changing again.
By 2003, Fox Restaurant Concepts recommended Co-Op Web to our first shopping center. (Thanks FRC!) Since then, this has been the main focus of our whole business. We started out building websites for our centers, and as social media came to light, and the more we learned about it, the more we came to realize, this is where we could make our biggest impact. Since that special day, 15 years ago, we have been working with several shopping centers, on a daily basis.
Over the past twenty years we have experienced some highs and lows, built hundreds of websites (some even won awards!), and some life-changing events. I would say that the key to business longevity for us is the willingness to learn and to be flexible and be open to new experiences.
Social Media Management was a new experience for us in 2009, and that has been the biggest bloom for me this decade. I absolutely love the way that social media connects us. How it shrinks our world to a place where we can all connect. How we can experience community, get support during our trials and for our success. It was the connection I received, when I needed it the most and I hope to give my clients the same experience.
(The screen capture above is from the Wayback Machine, which holds website archives. This was from 2004, when I thought I was really clever and creative making a website scroll sideways instead of up and down. Yeah, our current site is scrolling up and down. Lesson learned.)