Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)
Red8 Interactive, based in the OPO co-working space in St. Charles, is a custom website development company focused almost entirely on WordPress builds. The plugins they create are born out of necessity and grown with experience. When a company needs a business app that doesn’t exist or what does exist doesn’t fully meet their needs, Red 8 Interactive steps up to the challenge.
We sat down with Mark Bateman of Red8 Interactive and got the scoop on what exactly it is they do to help businesses navigate WordPress.
Where did the business idea for Red8 Interactive stem from?
The company is actually about 10 years old, but about four and a half years ago we started over with Randy Schilling’s help. Originally this company was just sales in the U.S. and all development was done in Shanghai. Randy gave us affordable rent so we could close down Shanghai and build a team of developers in St. Charles. James Hipkin, the primary owner, decided to purchase this company and grow in St. Charles because we had both worked together in past agency lives.
We recognize that most creative agencies want to work the creative side and have a full-time development resource take on all the technical hurdles for them during the build process. Most of the time they don’t want to hire in-house because they don’t understand developer culture. James and I both know agencies’ pain points and we focus our development style to cater to those pains.
I have a graphic communications degree from Washington University. I was a champion for technology even back in the mid-90s—from the day I graduated to now I’ve focused on digital. I’ve worked for small boutique digital shops and large ad agencies. I’ve worked as a digital creative director, UX & Usability Designer, a developer and have managed a number of teams. Managing a development team and interfacing with creatives is what I do best.
Tell me about your apps and WordPress plugins.
We have about 10 apps in the field currently, most of them are business process apps.
For example, a company that sells syringe-based dermatology and aesthetic products can use our app to sit down and show medical professionals how they can use these products to help patients and be profitable. There are demo videos, product descriptions and profit calculators all used as sale support to help the owners of these medical practices decide if they want to carry these products.
We also have apps like one for Sambazon an Acai Berry company. They sell juice, sorbets & energy drinks nationally and we built their website in WordPress. But we also built an app that is used by street teams that get out on the ground to market the products. Usually at events or in front of grocery chains.
We have a number of plugins in the WordPress Repository. One of them is the Tracking Script Manager that allows marketing groups to put all the tracking scripts they need into a wordpress website. This can be done on an individual page level or site wide level. It’s very powerful and has been download over 6000 times. It’s currently running on more then 2000 websites.
We also have a suite of Red8 plugins that are used exclusively with our custom and semi-custom builds. They admin facilitation plugins that allow you to better manage your website.
You mentioned you moved to OPO a few years ago. What do you think you’ve gained from the move?
We love OPO. It gave us an affordable way to build a larger team in St. Charles, expose our younger developers to other developers and grow mutually. They’re privy to special events that they may have never attended in another organization or work environment. I personally think when my developers move on from Red8 they will be educated about many things beyond just coding. Our model is to train within, and at OPO they get more then just web development training.
We were the first company to sign up with OPO. So we’ve [received] some pretty good legal advice that made us review how we word things, and how we’re setup as an organization. We’ve gotten exposure to some VCs so when we’re ready to scale we have a head start. And one of our most recent website launches was a previous OPO member. But really allowing us to work in a great facility with plenty of room to grow really made the developers feel like this company will succeed. Also we have exposure to upcoming developers looking for a place to work, and that’s a good thing. Because finding talent can sometimes be very hard.
Anything exciting in store for Red8?
The semi-custom small business service we offer is brand new. We’ve had five signups so far, and we’re currently in talks with a recent college grad about becoming our small business on-boarding person. They would help small businesses build on the cost effective platform we’ve created. With $129 start-up fee and $99 a month for 24 months a small business can have a fully responsive website up and running in as little as 4 business days. And we don’t just sell them a template and let them figure it out. We’re putting together processes and resources to help teach them how to use the website. Our on-boarding person will be helping them initially get started and point them in the right direction if they get lost. Our first goal would be to sell 4 of these sites a week.
Our future growth plan includes introducing those same small businesses to a Marketing Automation system we’re in the early stages of creating. Our hope is that it will seamlessly integrate into their website. There are many products/players in the Marketing Automation arena and there are many individual plugins that help with automating some marketing tasks. However over the years we’ve learned that 80% of our customers only use about 20% of the functionality these large Automation systems offer. We want to tailor the experience so it’s a simple process where even small business owners can figure out how to market to existing customers or subscribers. Our plan is to build the system in such a way that it’s making suggestions based on behavior and not wait for the small business owner to decide to dig in and set things up. Because who has the time to figure that out?
This blog was created in collaboration with OPO Startups.