Gecko Designs Missoula, Montana
“Google has been a huge part of our success.”Gabe Silverman, OwnerGecko Designs has 10 employees.link www.geckodesigns.comGabe Silverman always had an entrepreneur's spirit, especially when it came to the new digital frontier. At just 16, he started a business designing websites out of his parents' bedroom. “The Internet was just starting to become a thing people had, so I started making web pages for different companies around town,” he says. But as word got around that Gabe and his newly founded business, Gecko Designs, were doing top-quality work, the Missoula native saw his small business dream take off. “Now we have clients from around the country. We're doing really well, and it’s exciting.” More than two decades later, Gecko Designs is showing the world why Missoula is one of the best addresses on the web.
Gabe uses a variety of Google tools to connect with clients and run the business. AdWords, Google’s advertising program, drives potential leads to their website. Google Apps for Work allows for easy collaboration within the company. YouTube hosts their dynamic and engaging informational videos. Gabe especially makes the most of the insights he gains from Google Analytics. “Without Analytics, you're flying blind. We see where our traffic is coming from, what people are searching for, and how much time they spend on the site. That data is absolutely critical.” And their Google My Business listing helps them to make a great first impression by showcasing reviews from clients.
Today, Gecko Designs averages about 20% annual growth, with no signs of slowing down. What matters most to Gabe, though, is helping to create his own budding Silicon Valley in Montana. “We are bringing out-of-state money into our local economy, which is really important,” he says. “This business started a mile down the road when I was in high school and now we have a staff of ten in a downtown building we own. That’s pretty cool.”Gecko Designs has 10 employees.link www.geckodesigns.com
Big Sky Brewing Co. Missoula, Montana
Big Sky Brewing Co.
“The Internet is an essential everyday aspect of our business. We wouldn’t have nearly the potential for growth without it.”Bjorn Nabozney, Co-founder48,000 barrels of beer brewed in 2014link www.bigskybrew.comWhen Bjorn Nabozney and two college friends started Big Sky Brewing Co. in 1995, the Internet hardly even counted as a marketing tool. The trio created craft beers with names like Moose Drool and Trout Slayer, and slapped on colorful labels designed by Bjorn’s mother. Getting the word out about their beers meant lots of travel around the Big Sky Country. Then, as the Internet evolved, the company launched a website and discovered it was a game-changer. After three or four years experimenting on the web, Bjorn says, “we opted out of doing any traditional form of media advertising in favor of focusing our efforts on the Internet.”
The company is now part of “a very low-tech industry, but we use technology every day,” Bjorn adds. He no longer has to drive the range to scout potential customers—Google Maps and Street View let him do that from his desk. “The searches we can do now eliminate a lot of our travel. It saves us literally thousands of dollars a year.“ They share their story on their YouTube channel with videos about their beers and the brewery. Google Analytics helps them decide what’s working on YouTube and the website. And Google Apps for Work makes collaboration faster and simpler, with tools such as Google Docs and Gmail. The whole marketing budget goes to the Internet.
Today, Big Sky Brewing Co. sells beer in 24 states plus western Canada and Australia—international connections made via the Internet, naturally. They have 40 employees, sponsor a summer concert series, and have moved from their old 5,000-square-foot facility to one seven times bigger. A native Montanan, Bjorn urges the state’s many small businesses to make the most of the Internet. “When we go in with our tablets and use the Internet to show them what we’re able to accomplish with our products, and the things that we can do to help support their bars,” he says, “it blows their hair back.”48,000 barrels of beer brewed in 2014link www.bigskybrew.com