As a school social worker, Sally Bindley witnessed firsthand the
impact of poverty and homelessness on children's ability to learn. "A
lot of services focused on kids' social needs but weren't focusing on
their educational needs," she says. After talking with staff at
homeless shelters and advocacy agencies, Sally sprang into action. “I
grabbed my mom and my best friend, and she grabbed her mom, and we
went to a shelter and said, 'We can start tutoring your kids.' It
grew organically from there." Sally founded the nonprofit School on
Wheels in 2001 to connect volunteer tutors with children experiencing
homelessness in Indianapolis. The organization has since grown to
include over 400 volunteers who provide one-on-one tutoring for
children grades K–12 in nine shelters and four public schools. They
also equip parents to become their children's best educational
AdWords, Google's advertising program, has helped this nonprofit grow. "AdWords allows us to do a multitude of different things," says Sally, “such as finding volunteers, bringing in donations, and promoting our curriculum.” They also use Google Analytics to see where web visitors are coming from. And their YouTube channel includes tips for tutors on engaging children as well as videos to raise awareness about families experiencing homelessness. “People don't really realize that homelessness is a problem,” Sally explains. “Google tools help us reach more people and show them that this is an issue. The more people know, the more they’ll be part of the solution.”
School on Wheels today hopes to break the cycle of homelessness and “eventually go out of business” as a result of doing so. With numerous success stories of their students going on to college and pursuing rewarding careers, their hope is becoming more and more of a reality. “We’re really making a lasting impact on these children’s lives,” Sally remarks. Google helps Sally further that impact by enabling the organization to reach more volunteers, partners, and donors—and serve more children and families—while remaining a lean operation. “We couldn't do this using the phone and pieces of paper,” she says. “This could only happen through the use of technology.”
School on Wheels Indianapolis, Indiana
School on Wheels
“Because of the web, we’re able to have a bigger impact in our community. It has revolutionized the way we operate.”Sally Bindley, Founder & CEOSchool on Wheels has 21 employees.link www.indyschoolonwheels.org
As a school social worker, Sally Bindley witnessed firsthand the impact of poverty and homelessness on children's ability to learn. "A lot of services focused on kids' social needs but weren't focusing on their educational needs," she says. After talking with staff at homeless shelters and advocacy agencies, Sally sprang into action. “I grabbed my mom and my best friend, and she grabbed her mom, and we went to a shelter and said, 'We can start tutoring your kids.' It grew organically from there." Sally founded the nonprofit School on Wheels in 2001 to connect volunteer tutors with children experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. The organization has since grown to include over 400 volunteers who provide one-on-one tutoring for children grades K–12 in nine shelters and four public schools. They also equip parents to become their children's best educational advocates.School on Wheels has 21 employees.link www.indyschoolonwheels.org
Weathervane Shoppe Granger, Indiana
“The Internet is opening up many more doors for entrepreneurs.”Nicholas Falletta, PresidentWeathervane Shoppe sells 800+ products annually.link www.weathervane.com
Borrowing $1,000 to buy their initial supplies, Nicholas Falletta and his wife began selling handcrafted weathervanes in 1986 from the back of a van at arts-and-crafts fairs and flea markets across Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Ten years later, they gradually shifted their sales focus from their van to the Internet. “Let's face it. If you're not on the Internet today, business would be lacking greatly in the future,” Nicholas says. Weathervane Shoppe got online very early and “was one of the first to ever sell weathervanes on the Internet.” Today they’ve expanded their business to over 1,400 unique products, including cupolas, roof vents, chimney caps, and finials. They manufacture custom designs in Indiana, work with vendors across the country, and sell to customers all throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Nicholas uses the Internet to share his products with consumers all across the continent. “The Internet has changed the face of retail by eliminating geographical barriers,” he explains. AdWords, Google's advertising program, accounts for about 50 percent of his sales. Google Analytics delivers valuable insights on his customer base—for instance, half of Weathervane Shoppe’s website traffic is from mobile devices. Google Search Console helps with monitoring the website's presence in Google Search results, and Gmail keeps him connected with vendors and customers. Thanks to all of these digital tools, Nicholas says he is able to offer customers “the most exceptional service they can possibly find from anybody.”
As an American entrepreneur, Nicholas has always known which way the wind was blowing for his unique small business. “Weathervane Shoppe was never meant to grow into one of those huge big-box stores with a bunch of employees,” he says. But the company has provided a great deal of customer satisfaction for over three decades and continues to create opportunities for vendors in Indiana and across the U.S. “For a semi-retired 71-year-old to have that kind of impact is amazing,” he adds. Nicholas has proudly sold weathervanes, cupolas, and other roof products to the children of his original customers. “And I expect I will be selling to their grandkids before I'm gone.”Weathervane Shoppe sells 800+ products annually.link www.weathervane.com
DeBrand Fine Chocolates Fort Wayne, Indiana
DeBrand Fine Chocolates
Fort Wayne, Indiana
“New online customers make up our fastest-growing segment.”Cathy Brand-Beere, PresidentDeBrand Fine Chocolates has 100 employees.link www.debrand.com
Growing up in a family that owned a confectionary business, Cathy Brand-Beere began making chocolates at age eight and selling them to her classmates. Her dream of opening "a real chocolate shop" became a reality in 1987, when she founded DeBrand Fine Chocolates and opened the first DeBrand store in her childhood home. The company specializes in gourmet chocolates delicately crafted to create a heavenly, mouth-watering experience that has made DeBrand Chocolates a coveted gift. "We constantly strive to maintain an extremely high level of excellence, from the ingredients to the packaging to the way we present our brand," says Cathy. DeBrand has since expanded to include four retail shops in Fort Wayne, a wholesale business, and a mail-order department that ships to chocolate lovers worldwide. The company launched its first website in 1998 and has since relied on online marketing to help grow the business.
They began using AdWords, Google's advertising program, in 2013 to market DeBrand's seasonal and holiday offerings. AdWords helps direct people searching for high-end chocolate gifts to the company's website. "We need to cast a wide net to create brand awareness with people who are looking for high-end chocolates," Cathy says. "At peak times, AdWords ads drive about a third of our total e-commerce traffic." Google My Business helps people find DeBrand's brick-and-mortar stores and see their holiday hours. The company also uses YouTube, Google+, and other social media platforms to entice online visitors. "People eat first with their eyes," Cathy says. "When they see beautiful chocolates on our social media, they're already thinking about buying before they even get to our website."
In 2015, DeBrand launched a mobile-friendly website to make it easier for customers to buy from their mobile phones or tablets. "We now have loyal customers in all 50 states," Cathy says. "Some of our biggest orders are shipping to Florida and California. I don't think those people would be able to find us if it weren't for our online presence."DeBrand Fine Chocolates has 100 employees.link www.debrand.com
Easley Winery Indianapolis, Indiana
“I’ve shifted almost 100 percent from traditional to online marketing.”Meredith Easley, Co-owner30% annual growthlink www.easleywinery.com
Mark and Meredith Easley carry on the legacy of Mark’s parents, who founded Easley Winery in 1974. Both Jack and Joan Easley had their own careers, but chose to pursue their passion. They started making wine in their basement and were instrumental in changing Indiana law to allow wineries to operate in the state. Today, the Easleys grow grapes on 40 acres in southern Indiana and produce their award-winning wines in the heart of their state, at their original location in downtown Indianapolis. They invite guests to visit the winery for local events, tours, and live music.
When they first took over the business, Meredith recalls, “There was something called the Internet. It was still pretty new. We didn’t have a presence with a website, so we just jumped in.” Since 2001, the website has helped them grow their brand and distribution, which has gone from 3,000 to 60,000 cases a year in seven states and two countries. Using tools like Google Alerts, Gmail, and Google Calendar, they manage their growing operation more efficiently. “Google Chrome is what we run on as a company, and we use Google Analytics to look at what’s happening with our website,” Meredith says. When it comes to creating Easley Winery’s “Internet face,” she says, “Google tools have always been my favorite, because they're so clean and easy to use. I’ve had other people say, ‘Oh, try this, try that.’ And I keep coming back to Google.”
From a basement in Indianapolis, Easley is now on the shelves of major retailers, “competing with global companies.” Online promotions allow them to “give the same impression” as huge companies and be a contender in the wine industry. With all this potential, Meredith wants to keep learning and improving their online presence. She sends her staff to training and plans another website redesign. To continue their tremendous growth, her top goal is to present “the best version of themselves” online, and to be “nimble and faster” than the big guys. Google helps her to do just that.
30% annual growthlink www.easleywinery.com