OuterBox Chosen for 2012 NEO Success Award

OuterBox (Akron, OH), has been chosen for a 2012 NEO Success Award, featuring the top performing companies in Northeast Ohio. March's issue of Inside Business Magazine lists all firm along side select firm profiles, of which OuterBox was included. With growth of over 800% in the last 3 years, OuterBox has become an example of growth in the Cleveland / Akron, Ohio area.

Justin Smith's Web-development firm gets below the surface to increase online visitors and drive sales.

by Jane Day

Although he's a graphic designer, Justin Smith never judges a website by how it looks.

"Would you rather your site look good or make a million dollars?' asks Smith, CEO of OuterBox.

Granted, the two characteristics aren't mutually exclusive. But given the choice, Smith will take function over fashion any day.

Plenty of Web development firms can turn out a good-looking product. But Smith says his company really shines in two areas: It knows how to design e-commerce sites that drive sales and how to use digital marketing to direct potential buyers to those sites in the first place.

Smith started OuterBox eight years ago with $2,000 he saved from freelancing and a computer that his Grandma Misencik bought for him. He was 19 years old, and he had a strong motivation to make a go of it: He had a baby to support.

"I had to pay my bills,' he says. "I had to make it work.'

So, after his first semester at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Smith dropped out to start OuterBox. He worked 60 to 80 hours a week from his apartment with freelance programmers.

The company's big break came in September 2008 when the producers of CNBC's business show The Big Idea found OuterBox online. They called to see whether Smith would consider donating his services to a shoe designer who was appearing on the show the next day. Smith agreed. The free publicity gave OuterBox the exposure it needed to really take off.

"It was definitely a tipping point,' Smith says. "We got tons of press. The day after the show aired, we got 150 calls for new websites.'

Just months after OuterBox created and optimized the website of Ultimate Sack, a beanbag chair manufacturer, the producers of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon found the site and ordered chairs for a skit on their show.

"They found [Ultimate Sack] because we put it there,' Smith says.

What he means is, OuterBox's Web developers design sites to make sure clients stay near the top of organic search rankings. They're also skilled at customizing other online marketing tools, such as pay-per-click advertising. Those tools have consistently increased conversion rates and lowered the cost of converting viewers to buyers, Smith says.