Sheyne Branconnier operates Smile MEDIA, a full-service web design, development and marketing company with offices in Boston, Dover, NH and Exeter, NH. Catch up with him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Given a business name is so central to a brand, we tend to put a lot of importance on it. How did you arrive at a name, and how do you feel about it now that you’ve been in business a while?
At our foundation we are a service company aimed to please. Our focus is on the one universal expression we are aiming for. A smile is one of the single universal expressions of happiness worldwide; it is used as a kind gesture when greeting someone and is sometimes an uncontrollable emotional response to an interaction.
That is why we have made it the core to our beliefs and our name.
It is the basis of how we deliver our services and how we would like clients to feel upon receiving them. When working with Smile MEDIA,our clients should not only expect a warm and inviting greeting but also a smile from the result of our services being delivered. Our aim is for our clients to be equally happy interacting with the projects we build.
We feel even more connected to the name now than ever.
With some brands, location is a key component. Is there anything about the place you live and work that’s shaped your own brand?
Absolutely, location has been one of the keys to our success. We are located near leading educational institutions and a highly creative community, which inspires us to be continual learners and innovators in our industry. Our landscape is highly sought after, so the market is competitive, but there are so many businesses with so much to offer that there is plenty of creative work to be done.
How would you describe your professional experience and background?
I attended public school at Exeter Area High School, where I participated in team activities including baseball, track and field, and swimming. As captain, I led the swim team to its fifth consecutive state championship. In the summers I attended Landmark School in Prides Crossing in Beverly, MA.
In 1992, I attended the University of New Hampshire in Durham, where I obtained an Associate Degree in Business Management. While continuing my education, pursuing the field of natural resource economics, I met Matthew W. Palis III (a student in the same program), and in 1996 co-founded Northeast Internet Publishing (NEIP). In 2001, we sold NEIP to Seacoast Telecommunications (TTLC/Link2TheCloud), and in 2015 I brokered the sale of TTLC to cloudScale365.
Could you describe the scope of your operation?
We are a full-service web design, development and marketing company, with a focus on helping businesses find the right digital solutions to continuing growing and evolving in an ever-changing marketplace.
Some entrepreneurs describe an aha! moment, the instant they decided it was time to take things into their own hands. Could you describe any of those moments you’ve had?
Back in 1996, I was guided by a belief that the internet is the way of the future; I began developing software for web-based applications and have not looked back since.
What kind of projects do you prefer to work on?
The projects I enjoy most are ones where we can work toward continuously advancing and improving web-empowered applications to make it easier, more cost-effective, and more enjoyable for people to use them.
Could you describe your typical client (if you have a typical client)?
They range from small coffee shops to complex social networking sites. I’d say about 100 hours of effort is typically the average per project.
Sometimes we’re in a position where it’s necessary to turn down projects. What do those situations look like for you, and how do you manage them?
We enjoy working with businesses who are invested in improving their digital presence, and that have a collaborative mindset. Working with clients that are flexible and want to be involved in the project helps make our jobs easier, and therefore the process is more enjoyable for everyone.
Could you describe a project that you feel exemplifies you at your best?
We designed and developed a social media networking platform from scratch, which can be found at freedom.fan. We took a concept and the client’s most important values and worked to create an online destination where like-minded individuals could socialize and network in more meaningful and engaging ways.
This project brought complex challenges, which our development and creative teams met with professionalism and ease, creating a seamless experience for the client, and an exceptional product.
An obvious metric for measuring our own success is how much you got paid versus how much time it took. In your experience, what are the advantages and drawbacks here?
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that there are always going to be projects (and other tasks) that take longer than we expect due to unforeseen circumstances. While profit is critical to our livelihood, it is understood that some projects will create more of a profit than others.
The projects that result in lower profits create learning experiences about how we can be more efficient on similar projects in the future. We try not to dwell on exceptions, but rather move forward and continue to perfect our processes.
Are there any resources (e.g. apps, processes) that you’d recommend to an up-and-comer?
We use an Agile approach to projects, and find that it allows us to be as efficient as possible, both operationally and financially.
Imagine you could travel back in a time machine to a point where you were like, Forget this. I’m done! What advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to hang in there and keep going, because the future holds so many opportunities. Right now, especially, there are huge opportunities in digital marketing and web development, and I can’t even imagine how hard I’d be kicking myself if I had given up at any point along the way.
What’s your parting shot for people who want to be like you when they grow up?
A lot of people choose to work a nine-to-five because it feels safe and secure, but if you’re looking to feel challenged and fulfilled on a daily basis, entrepreneurship is where it’s at. If you have a passion and the drive to succeed, go after it. Don’t give up.
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