I started this company 10 years ago. It was 2009, and (at the time) I was working at a call center for a large propane company. I was in the midst of wanting to become a famous rock star. I started Jay Nine, Inc (then it was Jay Nine’s Social Media Marketing) to focus on building websites and helping businesses with social media and SEO.
2009 was a hard time for a lot of people. The Great Recession was in full effect. Businesses were shutting down. We started to see local coffee shops replaced by Starbucks. Local banks by chain businesses. We saw Blockbuster start to falter and then go completely under. Many mom-and-pops and people’s dreams came to a halt as the economy suffered.
I was driving one night in May and drove past a strip mall in Rocklin, California. I had worked at a mailing center in this strip mall when I was in high school and was shocked to see it was empty. Businesses were boarded up, desperate “for rent” signs littered the parking lot. There were only a couple of stores left. It was eerie. People I had known and interacted with, completely gone.
I was inspired to use what I had learned in marketing and doing web development for bands to help businesses. I’d been approached a few times by local companies and people I knew through friends and family to help their small businesses. Social media marketing was just starting to take off, and businesses needed cheap ways to get their name out there.
I dove into the world of business marketing, applying what had worked for me in the music scene. I was able to write some custom pieces of software to help automate some analytics (software that would become obsolete when giants like Moz came onto the scene). I worked on different campaigns, analyzed the data, and helped businesses use the internet to grow.
In 2010, I switched the company name to Jay Nine Lessons, and set up a website that sold a book on social media marketing, along with training services. I hired a couple of part-time employees to help with managing odd ball websites and social media campaigns. We mostly worked on forums or word-of-mouth to get new clients and projects.
In 2011 I switched jobs, leaving the call center and working at a local car wash. The car wash hours provided 2 weekdays to work on the business, have meetings, and hold normal office hours. I started to get more recurring contracts during that time, and landed some software development projects. Moving into the software realm was very exciting. By 2012, I was able to hire and work with some software developers, one of which still works with Jay Nine, Incorporated today.
In 2013 I was able to quit working for someone else and started working full-time with Jay Nine, Inc. I hired a part-time employee a new full-time salesperson, an admin assistant, and a couple more software developers. We started getting more software projects, websites, and marketing retainers. 2013 and 2014 were kind of the “glory years” where we started to hire more people from all over the world to work with different projects and businesses, and establish ourselves as a legitimate company. We worked nights and weekends, and had a lot of fun (and painful lessons) growing this company.
In 2014 and 2015 we began to land five and six figure projects, and the software development side of the company really started to take off. The projects were more complicated and important, and we were still able to serve the needs of the smaller businesses. This pattern of growth and development would continue. By 2017, we’d grown to have 12 full-time employees working on Jay Nine projects!
2017 and 2018 showed no signs of slowing down. The team at Jay Nine had added been working together for close to 4 or 5 years with little turnover. By 2018, we started to get hired for our project management skills as well, managing other projects and overseeing developers in different companies.
It’s been incredible to have the same core team members for the last 4 – 5 years. Everyone works hard every day, from the employees to the contractors, and it’s amazing to think about where this company has gone (and where this team is headed) in the next 10 years. 10 years ago I was barely 20 years old, trying to figure my life out, and was inspired to help small businesses from going out of business.
Never would I imagine that in such a short time this little company has not only done that, but would facilitate marketing plans and custom software that made (and continues to make) companies millions of dollars every year.