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New London entrepreneurs focus on websites for mobile phones

By Lee Howard

Publication: The Day

Published July 07. 2013 4:00AM
Tim Martin/The Day
Left to right, SeaSites Creative Director Andrew Doiron, co-founder Brian Fagan, Vice President John Spinnato and co-founder Michael Fagan work at their computers in New London on Tuesday.

New London - For Michael Fagan, it all started with the frustration of trying to order a pizza using his cell phone.

The Niantic pizza place's website was not optimized for mobile devices, and Fagan quickly gave up finding a menu.

"The website didn't work on my phone," Fagan said. "So I built one for me."

The process of building a website for his mobile phone got Fagan thinking about how many people must be having similar difficulties with sites intended for personal-computer users in an era where smaller mobile devices are quickly taking the spotlight.

So he drove out to the pizza restaurant, showed the owner the benefits of building a website for mobile devices, and quickly had his first sale. Within a month, he had sold a handful of other businesses on the same idea.

"It's silly how easy it is to sell this," Fagan said. "There was a need for it, and not a lot of people doing it."

Fagan, 27, celebrated the one-year anniversary of his SeaSites website-design and video-production business in April, and has recently settled into new headquarters at 300 State St. with his partners, brother Brian Fagan and John Spinnato of Waterford.

It was the third move in the past year for the company, reflecting the growth in business it has seen, especially since January.

The new office, with a 54-inch computer screen in one room, is the former space of Killer Minnow Studios, a well-known game design and animation business that moved upstairs in the same building.

"There's a lot of good energy here," Spinnato said.

The trio, all in their 20s and each an Eastern Connecticut State University graduate, said SeaSite's strategy is to get its foot in the door by proposing to design reasonably priced mobile sites for small- to medium-sized local businesses.

"Everything we've done came out of mobile," Michael Fagan said.

Fagan said doing a mobile website for last year's Sailfest celebration got the company a good deal of notice, as did a similar job at Norwich Inn & Spa. But much of the buzz about SeaSites has been "old-school referrals," he said, through the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut and Business Network International, among other organizations.

Brian Fagan and Spinnato, who both serve on the sales side of SeaSites, said the company can show customers almost instant results using Google analytics and other means demonstrating positive trends for businesses that invest in their mobile sites. The best thing about mobile sites, they said, is the ability to connect quickly with customers, whether through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or directly through the website.

"If a customer can't call you within five seconds, it's not working the way it should," Michael Fagan said.

But the company has begun to develop other niches as well, especially in the production of videos for local companies ranging from the city's Suisman Shapiro law firm to Essence hair salon in Old Saybrook to the Fields of Fire paintball park in Mystic.

The company is reinvesting a lot of its earnings into new technology, including a jib that gives videos a cinematic feel. And it is looking at buying a "drone" camera that can perch high up in the air for special effects.

The idea is to add a new dimension to locally produced videos, the partners said.

"You never look at a local commercial and say, 'That's really good,'" Brian Fagan said.

"We've been able to make something look really cool and professional and not be at such a high price," Michael Fagan said.

The next step, he added, is to develop a niche in making sure those videos are seen as well as in identifying demographic information about those who are interacting with the content provided. This way, he said, clients can quantify how much they are spending on marketing on a cost-per-view basis.

"Nobody is going out and doing this out there locally," he said.

Fagan, who previously worked as an interactive account executive for The Day, said branding and testimonial videos are two key niches for his business. The company is finding videos to be so powerful - aiding, for instance, in search-engine optimization that places certain sites at the top of Google searches - that it is setting up websites so videos are the first thing people see.

"We really try to base the video around the website," Spinnato said.

Michael Fagan, who worked for several months with a recording company in New York City before a random encounter with a line from a Billy Joel song that went "Man, what are you doing here?" prompted him to relocate back to southeastern Connecticut, said he is happy to help old-school business people connect with the new-media world of today.

"That's where everyone is," he said. "As a business, you want to be where people are."

l.howard@theday.com

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Business Snapshot: SeaSites Inc.

Owners: Michael Fagan, Brian Fagan, John Spinnato

Years in Business: 1

Number of employees: 3-5

Address: 300 State St., New London

Website: www.SeaSites.net

Phone: (860) 449-3067

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