.

My father wanted me to get a reality check so he cut me off, asked me to move out, and then gave me a job as a records clerk at Laker Airways for $18,000 a year. Reality set in pretty quickly.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I have always been a true computer enthusiast. I got my first Internet experience in 1994 via a local library and by the time I was eighteen I was working in 5 programming languages with my only formal training being a typing class in high school.

I dropped out of university when I realized they weren’t going to let me touch a machine for two years and the courses they were teaching were miles behind the work we were “playing” with on the Internet.

My father wanted me to get a reality check so he cut me off, asked me to move out, and then gave me a job as a records clerk at Laker Airways for $18,000 a year. Reality set in pretty quickly.

My other great love has always been music. This same year I managed to talk my way into DJing at The Womb – a pirate radio station in Miami.

After it was shutdown by the FCC we inadvertently created the world’s first 24 hour Internet radio station by using the Internet to move our signal between two antennas with a modified Real Server. This breakthrough had quite a bit of press exposure and essentially launched my career.

I spent the next 7 years running Laker.Net, Florida’s 5th oldest Internet Service Provider and web design studio. These were the years I cut my teeth as an entrepreneur. I learned some costly lessons, but was very proud of what I achieved there.

Eventually I sold the company to another ISP called WebUnited. After a brief stint as their Director of Sales I started iChameleon Group.

Since I botched the sale of my last company so badly I was in no financial position to start a new company. Regardless, I borrowed $409 (which is the exact amount needed to register a company) from my mother.

Three years later we have just shy of sixty employees between Miami, London, and LI’m getting to produce top class work from creative inception to full production. It’s like getting paid to do your hobby. Does life get any better?

What do you do for inspiration?

I’m a bit of an extremist. I either enjoy lounging around my house listening to music and being really lazy or doing extreme travel adventures like Burning Man or the Gumball Rally.

My mind is pretty far out there so I find that exposing it to extreme situations allows me to stretch the limits of my imagination and find those fresh ideas within fresh experiences.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

I can’t even imagine how many websites I look at on a daily basis. This is a tough one…

Shave Everywhere was my favorite site of last year. The copy was brilliant and the actor’s deliver was absolutely perfect.

Come Clean is still one of my top 3 favorite websites I’ve ever seen.

Trevor the Mentos Intern is my new obsession. We just launched it. I’ve been watching people interact with Trevor up to a couple hours a day.

After looking back at that list I realized that the best sites for me are still driven by the best ideas and not the fanciest technology or flash scripting. Visual art will eventually get boring to me, but a great idea can live forever.

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Starting iChameleon Group with nothing. Everything was against us and we pulled it off anyway. I’m immensely proud of the fact that I’ve made my own way in this world.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

Ahhhh, wouldn’t you like to know?!?!?!

Who is your target audience?

Our target audience is set by the client. I think it’s really important to not get typecast as an agency that can only handle one type of target audience or a certain type of project. It’s really important to your business’ success (and your personal sanity) to build a diverse portfolio.

One of my favorite sites we developed earlier this year was for NBC’s Today Show titled Follow Matt. The target audience was 25-55 year old women. We did the research. Found out what they’re doing online and developed a strategy to reach that audience. These are the kind of challenges that keep my job exciting.

What area of web design lacks the most?

For the first part of my career I considered myself to be a web designer. I think if web designers want to become commercially successful they need to start thinking of themselves as extensions of the advertising industry.

At iChameleon Group even programmers are called “Creative Developers”.

Truly great websites are a combination of brilliant ideas mixed with flawless execution. Right now, too many sites are only successful on the execution front. Is there really any reason to visit them more than once if they just look good?

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

My first website was called Solo’s World. Solo was one of my earlier online aliases. It was proper old school madness.

I had animated GIFs for flaming torches on either side of the logo and even a spinning GIF of the word e-mail. I wish I had a copy. Looking back – it was pure comedy.

What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

Definitely. As someone who is deeply involved in the hiring process I am a huge believer in heart and passion allowing people to succeed far beyond their experience.

Although I have to admit I find the birth of schools like HyperIsland very interesting.

When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Most small web development shops are formed when a group of designers and/or developers get together.

They can make great work together and build some notoriety, but if you want to grow fast and get big you need to find a sales person that is equally as good as your best creative or programmer. A great CEO is generally also your best sales person even if they aren’t doing day to day sales.

What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?

Some wickedly expensive bar tabs in Cannes for the CyberLions!

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

I’d like to share the most profound thing my father ever told me as it has had a huge affect on my life.

One day I went to him seeking advice over some mistake I had made which typically involved business or women. He listened to my story intently never saying a word. I spoke for about three minutes as he just nodded periodically.

Finally he put his hand on my shoulder and plainly said in response “son, I’ve fucked up things you haven’t even though of yet”.

As odd as that response was it reminded me that I have a lot of life to live yet and I’m sure I have a lot of mistakes to make, so maybe I shouldn’t waste too much time worrying about it.

I’ve lived a pretty stress free life since.


hr
All rights reserved © 2000 - 2014 Favourite Website Awards (FWA) -  Terms & Conditions -  Privacy statement -  Cookie Policy -  Advertise -  About FWA -  Contact