Thursday, May 30, 2013

Get To Know: Erik Reagan

Photo courtesy of Erik's Twitter @ErikReagan.
Something great about Savannah is that even though it's thriving and inspired and oh-so-creative, it is still a small town. Business owners grew up next to each other, or went to school together, and can support each other in this "grown-up" phase of our lives. I had the pleasure of going to middle school (wow!!) with Focus Lab's, Erik Reagan. He was an inspired young man then, and (an undisclosed amount of) years later he's busy changing the face of branding in Savannah and beyond. Please get to know my old friend, Erik:

Partner & Technical Director, FOCUS LAB, LLC

CLUTTER FURNISHINGS AND INTERIORS: What drew you to the world of web development?
ERIK REAGAN: My dad was the computer teacher at my school when I was in 6th grade. At the time he was teaching his classes a bit of HTML, the language that is the building blocks of all webpages. From what I remember my first little website in his class had to do with Greek Mythology and doubled as a project for another class. I enjoyed building these digital pages of information so I continued to play with it throughout middle and high school.
It was in high school where I started learning more of the “dynamic” parts of building websites. At 16 I completed my first paid job building a website with the guidance of my dad. From there it remained a hobby. A few years later it became a source of income. Not long after that, I decided I wanted to run a  business doing this web stuff. 
CF&I: For us technological Neanderthals, how does Focus Lab work?
ER: Focus Lab isn’t just web development. Much of what we do is very simple.
It all starts with us finding a good client fit. We spend a lot of time in our sales process vetting clients and having them vet us. It’s very important to us that we’re a good fit for them and that they’re a good fit for our team. This is the foundation of a good project together, which in turn keeps energy and excitement high amongst the Focus Lab team. This is really important to me.
Most of our projects involve more than just development, so it will probably be easy to grasp what we do. We spend a lot of our time and energy creating visual brands (logos, color palettes etc.) for new and renewed businesses that want to best represent what they are and what they do. We have a really talented team of graphic designers who do wonderful work. (They’ve won awards and their work has been printed in multiple publications. It’s an honor to work with them.)
Sometimes our work involves designing a new website as well. At that point our development team, which I lead, enters the picture. We take the designs and turn them into functioning websites. It’s somewhat equivalent to a homebuilder taking blueprints and designs and actually building the real house. I’ll spare you the details, because that’s where it does get pretty nerdy.
Regardless of the context of our projects, our ultimate goal is to help organizations reach their goals. Most often that involves some type of revenue increase, donations increase or more communication with their audience. We keep these goals at the forefront of each project we do, which helps us maintain a consistent rate of success across projects.
CF&I: Where is the future of web development taking us? Will there be robots there?
ER: Everything is going mobile right now. If your website doesn’t load quickly and optimally on a mobile device there is a really good chance you’re missing some of your key audience. Mobile isn’t just about websites anymore though. It’s also about native apps for iPhone and Android devices. There are many businesses that benefit from having applications for these phones. The “now” of web development is very mobile-focused and that will only increase over the next couple of years.
Beyond mobile, my prediction is that “the web” will continue to show up all around us, more than it already is. Can you imagine that? It’s starting to show up in TV’s and will likely be in other devices that we wouldn’t expect. Web development as an industry is a rapidly evolving world. The market demands for innovation make it a place that’s very difficult to stay up to speed. It will be interested to see what the next 5 or 10 years bring.
CF&I: What is your social media medium of choice?
ER: On the personal side I use a few of them for a variety of purposes so I don’t have a favorite. Many of my peers are on Twitter and I’ve been using that for 5 years. Over that time many of these peers have become friends, so it’s more personal than it used to be for me. I used to tweet dozens of times a day. These days I’m a little busier so I’m on it a little less.
I also use Instagram to share photos of family and random stuff. I keep Instagram to just friends and family (locked account). I use Facebook to keep other friends and family in the loop with work stuff and other random family stuff. I don’t have much overlap between my Twitter followers and my Facebook friends.
For Focus Lab we use Twitter mostly. My business partner and I are the faces of the company so most of our business tweeting still occurs from our person accounts, in spite of our @focuslabllc account existing.
CF&I: What is your favorite thing about being a business owner in Savannah?
ER: Honestly, those two things are very separate to me. I love being a business owner and I love being in Savannah. I’m sure I could be a business owner in any other city though. My industry in particular is highly digital so we can do our work from anywhere. There’s nothing about Savannah that necessarily helps or hurts our business. That said, I certainly love living here!
CF&I: What is your guilty pleasure?
ER: Disney music. Especially from the past few decades. I really love music and Disney has worked with some fantastic musicians. My favorite is probably Alan Menken. Don’t be surprised if you catch me listening to a soundtrack from a Disney movie. I don’t even try to use my 4-yr-old as an excuse. I happily own this guilty pleasure.
CF&I: Describe Focus Lab in five words.
ER: Fun.

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