Founders’ Friday: Wade Sonnenberg, Rainmaker Web Design
Today we have Wade Sonnenberg talking about Rainmaker Web Design. Enjoy another Founders’ Friday!
RC: Tell me a little bit about your company.
WS: I started Rainmaker Web Design in December 2005 in Colorado. I have bounced around a few different places running it including Atlanta and Athens. We have built about 115 websites from the ground up mostly word press, brochure sites, and ecommerce. We’ve worked with people as far away as the UK, Costa Rica, Alaska, and as close as right across Milledge. I manage about 40 websites right now. Some of them are small that never need too much upkeep, and our largest website is an online gun store with about 50,000 products. We work with three or four groups over at UGA. We try to be pretty laid back and have fun with it.
RC: What was your inspiration?
WS: I graduated from the business school at UGA in 2003. I wanted to be able to work either in my pajamas or from a boat dock.
RC: How did you come up with the name of your company?
WS: Rainmaker actually comes from a financial term. A rainmaker for a financial firm or bank is one that brings a disproportionate amount of business to the firm. Instead of just a design firm, we are more of a business consultant. We focus on the functionality of the website rather than just the aesthetics. Most of our websites are built for small businesses, and we focus on attracting and retaining customers for the business. For example we focus on websites getting found and the conversion ratio from client to customer.
RC: What has been the biggest challenge so far?
WS: The economic slump between 2008 and 2010. Marketing dollars dried up really quickly and were hard to come by.
RC: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from starting your own company?
WS: Work solely with good and honest people.
RC: What would you consider to be your perfect client?
WS: Someone deploying an ecommerce store that is selling something new, exciting, and something of personal interest. I’m a big outdoorsman. We operate a gun store as well as a boating and marine store. Those are the good ones.
RC: What has been the best part of the process?
WS: The personal freedom that it allows in terms of work schedule and geographic location. I’ve worked from Italy and Costa Rica. With a cell phone, internet connection, and a laptop you have an office.
RC: What past experience do you think has helped with founding your own company?
WS: My first career was in commercial real estate in sales and leasing. I got to work closely with a lot of businesses that were starting up. I learned a lot about company formation, sales, and the non-technical design aspects of running a business.
RC: Where do you hope to see your company a year from now?
WS: I would like to see an expansion to 2 to 3 more employees. I would like to see us delve further into mobile applications and iOS development.
RC: What advice would you give others wanting to start their own company?
WS: Brace yourself. The first year or two is not going to be easy. It’s going to be well worth it. If it was easy, everybody would do it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
RC: Have you met with any of the mentors at Four Athens?
WS: I’ve met with them at happy hour.
RC: How did you end up in Athens?
WS: I did my undergrad in Athens, and my wife is currently a PHD candidate.
RC: What are you most proud of about your company?
WS: I’m proud of the quality of craftsmanship and the quality of service we provide in delivery and our pricing model.
RC: Is there anything else you would like to tell readers about your startup?
WS: We’re people people; we prefer to sit down face to face with our clients and help them understand the processes, challenges, and opportunities in non-technical terms so they have the best grasp possible from start to finish.