Originally from San Pedro, CA, Steve Schwartz, CEO, and Founder of PD/GO Digital Marketing, headquartered in Vero Beach, Florida, graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Applied Mathematics with an emphasis on Computer Science. He always enjoyed math, computers, and technology but, after working in technical analysis positions at a few Washington D.C.-based “beltway bandit” companies, he wanted to be his own boss and work closely with the internet. At the time, conducting business on the new ‘World Wide Web’ was still a relatively new concept. For Steve, who was already dabbling in building websites, this presented a new and exciting opportunity.
“I really wanted to see how I could use the web to help small businesses advertise and get their names out there,” he said. “This may seem pretty commonplace nowadays, but in January 1999, it was still a new concept. It wasn’t until I started building websites for clients that I really found my calling. By early February 1999, I was no longer with my former employer and, after briefly working as a contractor, I decided to focus entirely on my new business.”
For the next several years, Steve and his ex-wife, who was his partner at the time, created hundreds of websites from their home in northern Virginia. They enjoyed the work and the fulfillment as they helped business owners grow their businesses. Nevertheless, as Steve shared, consumer education and explaining the need for a website was no easy task.
“It was so early on in the life of the Internet that some business owners didn’t know what a website was, let alone that they needed one to promote their business. They simply could not wrap their heads around the purpose for it,” he said. “Early in my business, I searched for lawyers in the D.C. area, on a new website called Yahoo!, quickly reviewed their websites, and as most of them were terrible, I would reach out to them directly. I offered free advice and suggestions on how to improve their websites and, before I knew it, several attorneys hired us to upgrade their website implementing my suggestions. We also teamed up with a Christian online business directory; we created their clients’ banner ad graphics for free in exchange for the opportunity to speak with them about their website and online marketing. Many of them signed up with us and some of them are still with us 20 years later!”
Steve shared that after years of building websites the traditional way, an increasing number of clients asked how they could make their own website content updates, to post news or online specials. Even though, at the time, there really was no way to do this, he saw an opportunity and jumped on it.
“I worked with a programmer to build websites that allow clients to edit parts of certain pages,” he said. “These websites were expensive to create, not flexible for growth, and took a long time to build. After creating a few websites with this technique, it became clear that we needed to design a website creation platform that allowed all pages of a client’s website to be easily edited so that the client could change text, images, add pages, files, etc. After spending a few thousand dollars on programming, we had our answer – and the new PD/GO system was officially launched.”
The response was overwhelming; most of his current clients wanted to convert to the new PD/GO System. After just an hour of training, clients could make their own updates and with the added benefits, Steve was able to charge a higher monthly fee. It was truly a win-win for both parties.
About a year after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, Steve and his ex-wife relocated to Vero Beach. They wanted a quiet and safe place with good weather, less traffic, and thousands of small businesses that needed web design services. Upon relocating to Vero Beach, Florida, Steve got plugged into the community and began building his reputation by attending events and showcasing PD/GO’s unique platform.
“At the time, there really weren’t any good solutions for ‘update content yourself’ websites,” he said. “The PD/GO System was great for so many business owners who wanted to easily update their websites without having any programming knowledge.”
What Steve enjoys most is sitting down with clients and brainstorming. He likes to understand their goals, pressure points, weaknesses and strengths and, after gathering that information, to develop a comprehensive web design and online marketing plan.
“This year, PD/GO Digital Marketing is growing in their digital marketing services including SEO, SEM, chatbots, digital funnels, text blasting platforms and more. We’re providing these services to get our client’s phones to ring. We will also roll out digital marketing services for a few specific industries nationwide.” Steve is very confident that PD/GO Digital Marketing is poised for tremendous future growth.
What advice does Steve have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “When I started my business, it was ‘sink or swim’ and I made the difficult decision to swim. It wasn’t easy. I worked at it very steadily, trying new techniques and working with good people. It grew steadily over time. If you’re good at something and it serves a valid purpose, solves a problem or does something people don’t want to do, I suggest you figure out how to build a business around it and go for it. Lastly, I’m not a big fan of borrowing a lot of money to get started. Just start small and build it up from there. We had a yard sale to raise enough money to buy our first computer. Be smart with your money.”
Steven Schwartz is available for project consultations as well as public speaking. For more information, please reach out to him at www.pdgo.com, by calling 772.770.4077 x1 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org