While he thought academia or market research might be his path, "my personality continued to push me into sales," he says. For a time, it was skis that he sold. Now it’s a new way of offering web design. Belding — who was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at last month’s Small Business Awards in Colorado Springs — is "Mad growth officer" and co-founder of WebriQ Goes Mad.
A small business in need of a website has a couple of options, Belding says. One is to build your own; with the help of online website builders such as Wix.com or Squarespace, "you can go and build a website ostensibly in a couple of hours, depending on your skill set."
For business owners lacking the time or ability for the DIY approach, the other option is to hire help, such as a marketing agency — but that can be costly, Belding says. "What I have found is anyone not paying the major money but who can’t do it themselves, they’re in this gray zone." Freelance web designers help fill that gap, but they’re typically "project oriented," Belding says — meaning once the website is up and running, "the freelancer is paid and they’re gone. So who’s responsible for watching the analytics and maintaining the site? So many small businesses that I talk to don’t even know where the analytics data is."
The approach of WebriQ Goes Mad (https://webriq.services) is to offer website design not as a one-and-done project but as a service; for a flat monthly fee, it builds and maintains the website and monitors the analytics.
Belding, 32, grew up in Michigan and is a graduate of Michigan Technological University. Fresh out of college, he started a market research company with fellow students that "was, by all accounts, a total failure." After that, he went to work for Booking.com, coordinating the production of new hotel websites in the French-Canadian market.
"It was a great little gig," he says. "I got to speak French, which was awesome." But that sales side of his personality led him to leave Booking.com to sell skis at Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus in Grand Rapids, where he also was webmaster.
"Out of the gate I liked Alex’s enthusiasm, drive and positivism," Bodart said in an email. "He was keen to disrupt the web development market with the introduction of a new technology stack, new services and especially a new way to provision, update and maintain websites. The fact we became partners was the result of nine to 12 months of working together on an ad-hoc basis and the positive affect it had on customer acquisition and customer retention. We rolled in to this in a very natural way."