As someone who has spent hours of the last few months playing around with graphic designs, I can’t even begin to tell you about the sigh of relief I had when I saw the rebranding that WebVolta is doing for Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (NENA). More than two colors? YES PLEASE. Rebranding is like being able to look in the mirror and see what you always wanted to be. I can’t wait to tell you about the magicians that work at WebVolta.
WebVolta, a small business on 54th street started out with Brittany Rudquist, her husband Nic Boie, and their friend JD, who is based in the UK. Yes. You read that right. Our local business is also international. They each fell into the business in their own unique way. Brittany recounted being in college and “I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up… I love art, but I’m not an artist. I’m too stuck in my head…” It wasn’t until a teacher told her she was going to be a graphic designer (and explained what a graphic designer is) that everything just clicked for her “it’s a place where my brain just knew what to do.” Nic, her husband, started playing around with phones when he was three years old. He realized he could talk to people just by dialing numbers. He made his first website in the 90’s—just as the world wide web became more accessible. When I asked him about it, he found the website. We both laughed when the 90’s font popped on the screen. He noted it was “full of [a] 12- year-old[‘s] political opinions”. He even had a side business of mowing lawns to afford the second dial up line in his home. It was never a question if he would own his own business or work with computers-- it was just a matter of how. Before JD got into software, he did low voltage network cabling—which means installing items such as cameras into businesses. He took a break from it and joined the navy to become a boatswain (the person that drives and cleans boats). During this time, he met his wife, who wasn’t too enthusiastic about him being deployed for nights on end. He did one deployment, then came home and met Nic and Brittany through a mutual friend. Today, he lives in the UK, but continues to work full-time at WebVolta.
Moonlighting isn’t an odd idea to any of these hard workers. They all knew they loved building websites and designing and wanted to work for themselves, but opted to keep their day jobs for security while they started their dreams. “Moonlighting is hard. It’s hard to work full-time then go work more after 5pm. I think we were all pretty burned out on that stuff. We either had to work full-time or bail.”, Nic said. In 2016, Brittany was the first to take the plunge and quit her corporate job to design websites and software applications full-time. “I was ready to work for myself. That was always my goal in whatever capacity that meant.” She began to laugh as she said they started getting so much business from the beginning that “People were paying us to build their websites, and we didn’t even have time to make our own!” It became obvious that WebVolta would do well and soon after, Nic and JD joined her full time. Since then, they have moved into an office, survived the pandemic, and have grown into a team of seven magnificent thinkers and creators.
As we are building out the NENA website, they ask probing questions like how would we like the site to look as the neighborhood organizations grows. “They [JD and Nic] are good at solving problems. It doesn’t even need to be development. The way their brains work, they are problem solvers—they see problems before they even arise.” It’s clear in their attention to detail and the way they think about what our organization will look like 5-10 years down the line, that this is an amazing business, and we are proud to show off their great work. Come visit us at nokomiseast.org
Not only are they forward thinking in where NENA will be in a few years, but when I asked them about their future plans, they stunned me with their consideration for others. In the future, the three of them dream of adding a nonprofit to their business where they train a few developers to do nonprofit sites for free/reduced cost. This helps people two-fold. They can help train students who would otherwise not find an interest in STEM and they can help local nonprofits gain more traction. “It was about mentoring. Using our knowledge to mentor other people. In this industry, it’s really hard to find a quality mentor—somebody who really cares.”—JD said.
We are really excited to work with WebVolta, and are excited to show off their amazing work.