August 24, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Birmingham Startup Offers Web Development for Small Businesses

August 23, 2012

http://www.al.com

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PlaidJack, a new startup based in Innovation Depot, develops websites for small businesses.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- PlaidJack, a new venture between a Birmingham web development company and an advertising agency, aims to give small businesses a website within their price range.

PlaidJack, a new startup based in Innovation Depot, develops websites for small businesses.

The startup, located in downtown Birmingham's Innovation Depot and co-owned by Chronicle Studio and Cayenne Creative, will use the former's web development expertise and the latter's creative guidance to provide websites that are attractive yet simply designed. Planning for the venture began around the beginning of the year.

Both companies saw many small businesses that wanted to work with them but didn't have the budgets of their usual clients. At the same time, there seemed to be a trend among consumers wanting to read less on websites.

With the new company, Chronicle and Cayenne can point them to PlaidJack.

"As a small business owner, they have a lot of other things on their plate other than telling their story, so we want to guide them through that," Jeremy Carter, PlaidJack's chief executive, said in an interview.

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Jeremy Carter is the CEO of PlaidJack.

According to a study of restaurant Internet marketing released this year by Restaurant Sciences, many independent restaurants have no presence on the web, much less websites designed for viewing on mobile and tablet devices like more and more mobile device users are seeking. Carter said PlaidJack's websites will be optimized for mobile devices. He also said the designs will focus more on telling stories through visual images rather than copy.

Each site will have original photography, copy writing and design. Carter said clients will also use Chronicle's new proprietary brand analyzer, which helps clients select images that best depict their businesses. Rather than starting the firm from scratch, PlaidJack is receiving financial and personnel resources from both companies.

Carter said the firm's websites can take up to 60 days to produce and cost between $3,000 and $6,000. When Chronicle partner John Garrett approached Cayenne founder Dan Monroe about creating PlaidJack, Monroe said he saw the need for the service. His company has had approaches from many businesses about designing websites but that they had to turn away because the projects were too small. A website can be fairly simple, which is something "very in vogue" right now, he said.

"If you're a startup, you just don't have $15,000 or $20,000 necessarily to spend on a website, but you don't want something that looks like everything else out there," Monroe said. "You don't want a cookie cutter, but you want something nice."

Garrett and Monroe both said they can see this model being replicated in markets across the country. Garrett said he sees PlaidJack focusing on the Birmingham market for two years before it looks at other markets such as Nashville and Los Angeles. Key industries that might need websites are hospitality, restaurants and service-based companies, he said.

"We believe that conventional wisdom is failing small businesses in the web world," Garrett said. "If you don't have a Chick-fil-A budget, you can't do what a Chick-fil-A does."

Innovation Depot-based Chronicle has developed websites and mobile applications for companies such as Royal Cup Coffee, Wood Fruitticher, Miles College and Alostar Bank. Cayenne Creative is a national ADDY award-winning agency with clients including the Birmingham Education Foundation, Duke Energy, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.



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