July 1, 2020
By: Richard Lau
Tell us about yourself and what your company does, & how long you've been working on it.
My company provides services related to building, operating, and growing an online business from the very point of conception to profitability and exit. I focus on creating businesses from start to exit for myself. Still, I also consult, advise, and assist in the development and management of web sites for a select group of clients throughout the United States. I also help clients develop a strategy to grow their business through internet advertising and lead generation while focusing heavily on statistical tracking, first review, and measurement of results, including the identification of best methods, conversion optimization depending on the type of business and prospect sought. My company helps companies become more profitable by taking on the Internet aspects of their business so they can focus on what they do best. I have been working on this endeavour for nearly twenty years, and many of my clients, the majority, have been with me throughout the entire journey.
What inspired you to start your own company - tell us the story?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial environment with many family members being self-employed, from pizza restaurant owners, real estate brokers and lawyers. Still, I started like anyone else, with very entry-level jobs from the beginning. I started early with my first job as a newspaper boy at twelve or thirteen. I then went on to working at stationery stores, restaurants as a bus-boy, a cook, dishwasher, landscaping, fencing, you name it, until I started driving trucks with a CDL (Commercial Driver License). Until then, I had no specific skills, which I considered 'professional' until I began learning about the Internet, what would become a career for me down the road. My upbringing and desire to do my own thing led me to build a career out of what I was learning about domain names, the Internet, search engine optimization, and how I could use a website and skills to promote sites and make a living. Hence, I learned everything I could about it and equally shared it with others. Developing it into service was inevitable.
How did you decide on your company name and logo?
Funny story; in the beginning, I started mostly with a combination of two essential things, domain names and the newfound power (back then) of search engine optimization levelling the playing field; my company name was a bite of the word "Search Engine" and "Network Solutions," the domain name registrar. I almost made the mistake of naming my company, Searchen Network Solutions, but shorted it to Searchen Networks. As far as the logo, I wanted something subconsciously recognizable and looked at lots of significant company logos. I wound up coming up with a swoop from a well-known brand, changed its shape and bend some, turned it upside down, added a bottom bar, and incorporated half the name in the middle of the bar and swoop, and the other half the name within the lower bar. There it was. Searchen Networks
How long did it take from having the idea to your first customers?
Not long at all. While my first customers where two lawyer family members who I made websites for and did not charge them running and building their websites as sort of a test case and for the experience. I soon after started building sites for customers. One of my first personal sites was a local directory, and I found that businesses were interested in being listed in the catalogue. I started picking up what would become hundreds of monthly or yearly paying advertisers in what became a spin-off business I ran for ten years and eventually sold. I sold it three times, once taking on investors, then buying back, selling it again and retaining a tiny bit of ownership, then repurchasing it all, growing it even larger this time, then selling the majority merging it into a larger organization, and then selling my remaining interest in what would become a final exit. That business taught me a great deal about geographic domain names and localized search engine optimization. I became a real expert at it, and I learned that sometimes owning a portal of some sort can lead to a lot of other things based on leverage in a particular market and that sometimes it's not the publication itself that is most profitable but what the publication can be used for to promote something else, which can become a larger success; a very unique and valuable lesson.
Any particular books or podcasts you can recommend?
I've gotten a tremendous amount of positive feedback about my book 'Mastering Your Website: Insider's Guide To Fully Understanding Your Website, Search Engine Optimization and Building Your Brand' - If you read its reviews, there are many people who wished they had read it before or at least as they were getting started with their Internet business. When one of my inverters saw that I had released it, they suggested that I was giving away all of my secrets, but that was what the book was for, to educate others. While old now being written in 2012, there are many fundamentals in that book that have not changed.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Many people know that I write a lot, from guides, books, blogs, forums, but many people probably do not know about my news site; I am deeply passionate about the news business. It's not a very profitable business to be in. Still, when you can write or publish a story and influence people half-way around the world in a matter of minutes after pushing a button, I don't know, there is something pretty incredible about that. I spend a great deal of my time, writing, editing, publishing stories from my contributing writers, and helping clients generate buzz and run their blogs or news sites.