Mindbox Studios started in 2005 as a web design company created to fund other web-based business projects of founder and CEO, Joshua Johnson and his creative, entrepreneurial partners.
“We had to be creative because I didn’t have any funding. I didn’t come from a wealthy background,” said Johnson, who held various jobs before starting Mindbox.
But after a few years of growing pains and hard work, Mindbox Studio’s success outpaced Johnson’s wildest dreams. The company now employs six full-time workers who offer web design and customer software services. And under the Mindbox banner, Johnson and his partners have started several emerging web-based spinoff companies.
"Mindbox is now this umbrella over multiple companies we’re creating. A lot have social impact as an underling theme, but some of them don’t. It’s just good software helping people,” Johnson said. “Our niche has been in finding clients like us, web entrepreneurs and people who are passionate about what they are doing.”
Mindbox is housed at the Hamilton County Development Company, a non-profit small business and innovation incubator in Norwood. The company has satellite offices in Cleveland and Portland. The company also hires a host of freelancers to help develop projects.
Mindbox is a jumble of services and business ideas. At its core, it builds websites for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Among its Cincinnati clients are Frieda's Desserts and Awakenings Coffee & Wine. They also work with realtors, mortgage brokers and web based companies like Venturepax, a travel planning site.
The company specializes in lean and mean work. Often they partner with entrepreneurial minded people looking for creative, effective and reasonably priced ways to grow or launch a business with web technology. That expands beyond a passive web site, to utilizing social networking, personalized software programs and more. The company also offers individualized marketing and graphic design services.
“The slowing economy has hit our clients and friends at the heart of their businesses over the past six months, and many of them are realizing that in order to compete in this market a strong online presence is necessary,” Mindbox’s Web site declares.
In the past year or so the company began developing its own software to meet client needs and to enhance their own businesses.
Many of those software programs fuel the Mindbox team’s own business ideas. Those include College Piggy, college savings program and the upcoming Givimo that will help non-profits more easily reach and process contributions from donors.
Mindbox’s group dynamic is crucial to its continued dynamic growth. They include Johnson’s partners Chris Costanza, who previously ran his own web design company, Lauren Russell, in research and development and Lucas Cole, Operations Director.
The trio quit their jobs to grow the company after nights and weekends started to wear on them, Johnson said. They had some web training but learned much of what they know now through self-teaching and challenging client projects.
“We were all creative and all talented, and we learned one project at a time,” Johnson said. “All the things we learned in our early projects helped us get bigger projects, because we learned from all of them.”
And Mindbox is working to spur and foster other technical and web based innovation through a newly created monthly Wemup (web entrepreneur meetup).
“We created it as a way to interact and meet with people. We spotlight an entrepreneur every month and we have a keynote speaker. It’s away to interact and get to know each other … and to keep our brains active and thinking about other things beside our business,” Johnson said.
Plans are in the works to eventually sponsor a contest where an idea can get some funding with the help of Mindbox and other innovative partners.
“I believe that Cincinnati could possibly be the Silicon Valley for the Midwest. The only issue is funding. In order for that to happen we need a few big companies to develop here and stay here,” Johnson said. “If these companies get to a get certain place and want to have a regional or national presence, they have to have the funding.”
Writer: Feoshia Henderson