Exactly one year ago tomorrow, on the 15th February 2013, I was working my last day as the lead web developer for another Leeds based web agency. By the end of the month I'd incorporated QWeb Ltd, and it's been a fantastic year for this new company. Our success is down to the wonderful support and continued loyalty of our lovely clients, so to show our appreciation, I'd like to take the time to be a little more open than most companies and look back at this past year. A lot further back than that, in fact.
QWeb actually goes back to 2004. I'd been tinkering with web development for a couple of years and felt this was my calling. Fed up with my job in the local grocery store and on my way towards completing some networking certificates that I didn't really feel were useful towards my career goals, I made a rather sudden, probably drunken, decision to run my own business and started thinking of names. QWeb sounded like the right fit, and I even came up with the somewhat cheesy taglines "Quality web design at quality prices" and "Q for Quality".
I designed my logo and letterheads, set up a website, registered with HMRC and even had a vinyl print of the logo on the side of my car. Unfortunately, this was about as far as I went with the idea originally. I didn't have any real understanding of business, I didn't know how to market my business, and after a couple of low profile client sites and even lower profile personal attempts at revenue sites, it soon became apparent that this wasn't something I could pursue on my own. I'm a developer, not a designer, and I didn't have any contacts within the industry whom I could work with.
Six years passed without much more activity, but I couldn't let go of the name and I continued to send empty tax returns in every year, feeling that next year would be the year I'd make a proper go of it. During these 6 years I met my fiancée Kate, moved to Canada with her for 3 years, and returned to England determined to get myself a job in the web industry. I was 24 by then, debts had been building up for 3 years, and it was time to sort my career out.
I landed a junior position at Icelolly Marketing, the company behind icelolly.com, and then another junior position at Leeds based web agency, Newmediaboutique, where I quickly rose to become lead developer, building up my experience both in development and in business. I got to know a lot of great contacts throughout the industry, I built relationships with some great clients, and I started working with Steven.
After 3 years at Newmediaboutique, the company started to make some radical changes and it was time to either accept these changes and commit to leading the team along a new path, or to take the plunge and use my experience to bring QWeb back out of its box. I was earning more than most of the people I knew, and still struggling to crawl out of personal debts, so the decision was highly stressful and a bit of a relationship test, but it was either now or never, so, of course, I took the plunge.
I started to freelance and quickly built up a small client base. On the 15th February 2013 I left Newmediaboutique and at the end of the month met with the insanely friendly Claire and Jane from WGN, who offered tonnes of advice and made me feel like this was the right decision. To everyone's surprise, Kate decided to join in and we incorporated together. She would be freeing up my development time by managing our clients and working with WGN to manage the accounts. QWeb Ltd was born and, for a few months, operated from a small corner of our house.
The work was starting to pile up and working from home simply wasn't easy. By pure chance, it turned out that one of our clients happened to have some office space that had just become available, so we snapped it up. QWeb Ltd moved in to its new office in May 2013.
In July, the work was starting to be too much for just one developer and we decided to hire Steven from the agency I'd worked at before. We're actually both very different developers which I feel is important when working on such a variety of websites. We were already working with local freelance designers and other local design agencies so Steven completed the team.
For the next couple of months, workloads were a little up and down, as you'd expect with a company as new as ours. Financially we were starting to struggle a little and we hadn't really thought too much about who was supposed to be doing what within the team. Kate was keeping the social networking side of the company active and I was looking for new clients whenever I had time, but our lack of business experience was beginning to show and we'd gone back to having enough work for just one developer. We brought business coach Stuart in to help us implement some company policies and structure, and Steven became our third director. With the help of both Stuart and WGN, the company began to stabilise and take on new clients again.
Today, QWeb Ltd is a well-balanced team of 3 directors. We're all dedicated to growing the company and supporting our clients. We've worked for 40 clients in our first year, some of whom are big agencies who continue to send new projects our way. We're growing our social media profile and our marketing is paying off. We've grown so rapidly that we've just won our first award (more news about that later!) and our clients seem to enjoy working with us as much as we enjoy working with them. We're not just another web agency, we're real people and we truly enjoy what we do.
Here's hoping the next 12 months are as successful as the first. Thank you to everybody who chose us from the many thousands of other UK agencies and for helping us to create a company we can be proud of.
Blog posts are written by individuals and do not necessarily depict the opinions or beliefs of QWeb Ltd or its current employees. Any information provided here might be biased or subjective, and might become out of date.
Mary Grant, Saturday 15th February 2014 10:07
Congratulations on your first year and thank you for a lovely informative blog. If you’ve got so far in one year just think where you might be in 5 years from now. Looking forward to seeing the Scoot award.
Håvard Hvassing, Wednesday 26th February 2014 14:55
All the best to the entire QWeb-team and to you in particular, Ric! I am truely amazed at what you have achieved over the course of the last year, and I have no doubt that you and your team will continue to make great products in the future as well!
Stay hungry and move fast!
Ric, Wednesday 26th February 2014 15:03
That means a lot, Håvard :-). I probably owe you a fair few beers for getting me in to PHP all those years ago!
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