Matt Fair has been designing websites in Kingston since 2000. He is the founder and CEO of 14 Theories Inc. He sat down with me to talk about how he got started in web design, and how he likes working in Kingston.
The year 2000 was early in terms of web development. How did you get started?
Matt: I was always playing around on computers. I got my first paid job developing the website of a small engineering firm. Once I moved to Kingston, I ended up working a series of jobs. I was teaching sailing part time, and made a website for the sailing club. I also was working at an insurance company, and created a database management system to make filing easier. Meanwhile, my wife had been busy expanding her network in Kingston. She started selling websites, so I registered a company and started working!
The web development business seems to be pretty saturated. There are companies entering and exiting the market all the time. How have you stayed successful?
We do a couple of things different. In the web development industry, many companies don’t finish what they start. This happens for a couple of reasons. The standard practice is to bill clients at certain development milestones. Often, clients will stop paying before the final milestone is complete for various reasons. This hurts development companies because not only do they not get paid, they don’t develop a portfolio of completed projects. I realized we needed to do things different. We take a deposit, and bill monthly depending on how much we work. What happens is that we get to the end of a project, and are waiting on some content from the client. If the client has paid 90% of the project fee, they will have a lot more reason to get us the content and complete it, as opposed to if they have paid 50% of the fee.
Many web companies also take on projects that go too far past their comfort levels. Also, they don’t screen out the sketchy customers!
Why did you choose Kingston to start a business? How do you like working in Kingston?
I was living in Toronto before I moved to Kingston. My commute was horrible; it was a 35 minute bike ride, 45 minute bus ride, or a 55 minute drive! Both my wife and I were ready for a change, so we made a list of the top three cities we would like to move to. Kingston was the one place on both our lists. I had taught sailing in Kingston for several summers, so was able to line up a summer job. That’s when I started developing websites. Kingston is great. I love sailing, and it takes no time to get anywhere.
Thank you for your time, Matt.