So who are the people behind the ShopOnMain website?
Meet CEO Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith says he’s always felt like a square peg in a world full of round holes. The son of a Kentucky farmer, his drive to succeed took him to Vanderbilt University to study Mechanical Engineering.
He quickly found a passion for start-up businesses. To this day, he regales the team at ShopOnMain with stories of his time at the earliest days of Amazon – “when we worked for peanuts, slept in the breakroom and had dogs running around the place.”
Joe struck out on his own in 2004 as a consultant, eventually forming JJSmith Marketing. It was through that company that he assembled the current ShopOnMain team. As this group helped clients succeed with online marketing, they began to see a pattern: businesses were struggling in an online environment that sometimes made it seem the deck was stacked against them.
“We saw there was a need,” Joe says, “for small to medium sized businesses – the kind you see on every Main Street – to have a web presence. But as they tried to come online they were facing tough challenges. They could spend time and resources on their own website, only to see it sit there with no shoppers.”
“Or, they could list their products on existing ecommerce sites. There, they might make sales but typically aren’t allowed to build a relationship with those customers. In many cases those customers don’t even realize who they purchased from. Businesses need loyal, repeat shoppers in order to grow. The only ones getting repeat business on the current platforms are the websites themselves – not the individual businesses that make them work.”
And so, ShopOnMain was born.
For Joe, the absolute best part of starting companies like JJSmith Marketing and now ShopOnMain is that both are designed to be virtual workplaces, allowing the entire team to work from home. In Joe’s case, home is a farm outside Bardstown, KY that he shares with his wife, Julie, and their two children: 12 year old Andrew and 8 year old Alexandra.
“Most of the businesses who are or will be on ShopOnMain have one thing in common with those of us building it,” he says. “We do this because we want to be there for our families. We want to build something we can pass down to them. We also want to be with them for the journey, after all the journey is life.”
Meet Software Architect Matt Crowe
Matthew Crowe could be working from anywhere. The coder behind ShopOnMain has a passion for travel that has taken him all over the world – most frequently to Central and South America. In fact, a good chunk of the software the website runs on (which Matt built completely from scratch) was written from Colombia and Nicaragua.
Which is no small feat. The software Matt built from the ground up includes a secure shopping cart system with a shipping component that allows businesses to print shipping labels and generate tracking emails for customers with a single click. So businesses that sell products on ShopOnMain don’t have to download orders and upload tracking information as they do on other platforms.
Matt studied Manufacturing Engineering in college, but switched careers to find something more enjoyable – and flexible. His travel addiction got off to a good start in college where he spent a year studying in Bogota, Columbia. Fluent in Spanish, he also worked in Matamoros, Mexico in the manufacturing of airbags and steering wheels.
But you can’t do your manufacturing job from anywhere. You can, however, build software anywhere you have an internet connection.
Today, Matt’s travel entourage includes wife Misty and their 16-month-old daughter, Cora. When they’re at home in Ohio they enjoy playing board games – Matt has over 100 board games in his collection.
Meet Marketing & Communications Writer Lisa Packer
Lisa Packer has always been a writer. Whether it was diaries and journals as a young girl, or poems and short stories that were published anonymously in her High School paper, she’s always been putting pen to paper.
As a young mother in the mid-2000’s, Lisa discovered she could use her writing talent to help businesses grow – and build a career working from home. By the end of that decade she’d met Joseph Smith – first as a freelance copywriter for JJSmith Marketing, then as a full time member of the team.
Besides working from home, her favorite part of the job has been the opportunity to learn and grow. She’s participated in some of the most exclusive training workshops and conferences in the Internet Marketing world, and loves putting that knowledge to use to help small businesses succeed.
“The most exciting thing, to me, about ShopOnMain is that it’s giving locally owned businesses a chance to fight back. Up till now, the Internet was something that took customers away from businesses like these in favor of big-box websites. Now, by banding together on this platform, smaller businesses have an advantage they didn’t have before.”
From November to March (and into early April every so often) Lisa lives for college basketball. Specifically, for the UNC Tarheels. A lifelong fan, she takes the #1 rivalry in College Sports very seriously.
“My dad is a Duke fan,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how late the games are, if either team loses we’ll call each other to rub it in. He’s always trying to convert my kids to the Dark Side. Of course, I raised them better than that.”
Her kids are Aaron, 20 and Josiah, 15. Husband Warren is a Tarheel fan as well. They try to attend at least one game a year in Chapel Hill.
“One day I’m going to have season tickets,” Lisa says. “Maybe when I retire.”