Technology and Small Business

PROFILE: Lumasis.com: Finding its niche Focus on small business pays off for Web design firm

September 17, 2007

Lumasis.comFinding its niche Focus on small business pays off for Web design firm

When Zionsville native Jamie Brown graduated from Purdue in 1995, most consumers were still in the dark about the possibilities the Internet could offer.

Having been immersed in the Web while studying electrical engineering technology at Purdue, Brown linked up with a local Internet provider and started his first company, Computer Specialists.

In 1997, the business morphed into Lumasis, a full-service Web site design and hosting company based in Zionsville that posted sales of $400,000 through July of this year-up from nearly $303,000 in 2006.

Brown offered Internet dial-up service in the late '90s, but as the number of Internet providers exploded, his dial-up business "went the way of the dodo," he said. "That's when I got full-force into design and hosting rather than computer repair and dial-up."

He comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. In 1945, his grandparents started Brown's Antiques in Zionsville, which in 2003 became Brown's on 5th. His father, David, owns Brown's on Main-a Vera Bradley store-and the combined Zionsville Lighting Center and Firehouse Antique Mall. Lumasis serves as the "outsourced IT department" for the family businesses.

Throughout its 12 years in business, Lumasis has designed and hosted Web sites for numerous other Zionsville clients, including the town itself, Boone County Convention Visitors Bureau and local law offices. Beyond the burg's borders, Lumasis developed a Web site for Indianapolisbased PitFit Training, a motorsport fitness facility that includes clients like Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy.

PitFit President Jim Leo said Lumasis offered him Web site options that he didn't have with his former company.

"We were looking for someone to update the site on a regular basis," Leo said. "We added an online store within the last three months and that has been very good for our sales." He chose Lumasis because of their experience in setting up e-commerce sites.

"They're very adaptable," Leo added. "When I call with a request, within a day it's done. They offer unbelievable customer service."

Terry Johnson, manager of Avalon Jewelers in Zionsville, also is impressed with Lumasis' customer service.

"We've been a customer for about eight years," Johnson said. "They developed an online sales tool for us, and if we have a problem or need something done, they take care of it right away."

Brown said concentrating on Zionsvillebased businesses makes sense. "We're an active merchant and have a lot of experience here. If someone wants to go online, they know that we've done it, we're doing it and we know what we're doing."

For most of its history, Lumasis consisted of only two employees. Brown said the lack of a solid marketing plan and a shoestring startup budget of $3,000 contributed to the slow growth.

"I was a technician trying to run a business and that has pitfalls," he said. "Not having a sales strategy kept us very small for most of our 12 years because we totally depended on partnerships or word-of-mouth."

Within the past two years, the 35-yearold married father of four has added four employees, including an outside salesperson. He hopes to add another sales professional and designer in 2008.

To grow the business, Brown also has partnered with Indianapolis copywriter Steve Russo to provide Web site content to clients. Each refers business to the other.

Brown said there's plenty of local competition, including "the big players like Omega Design Studio and BitWise Solutions."

"We're focused on the small- to medium-business market," he said. By remaining small, he can keep his prices low "so it doesn't make sense to go somewhere else."

"We're opening people's eyes to the fact that [Web services] don't have to cost a lot," Brown said. "We have e-mail packages that start at $25 a month. Show me a place where you can communicate with 10,000 of your customers for $25 a month and I'll buy it."
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