Blogs - Business

What "mission driven" means to us

We build websites for mission driven organizations. So...what does "mission driven" mean? It means that we choose to work with organizations that are driven by what they're doing in the world as much as (or more than) the bottom line. They have purpose; their people are passionate. Examples? The Student Conservation Association was our first customer back in 2002. They define an organization that is doing good in the world, helping high school and college students fulfill their own mission to "serve the land" at parks nationwide. The City of Keene is municipal government that truly cares about its constituents and the world around it. (The city is even listed in Al Gore's book An Inconvenient Truth for agreeing to the Kyoto Protocol). And yes, mission driven also applies to for-profit companies. Take American Heritage Railways. They transport families back in time to the days when the locomotive ruled the land, preserving history and delighting children with rides like The Polar Express and The Lone Ranger adventure. 

Pricing on value instead of hours

A number of years ago I took a client named Alex out to lunch. As is typical, I asked how we could be better. He paused for a moment; thought and delivered the best advice I've ever received from that question. "I don't care about your hours" was his response. He went on to explain how we always estimated in hours how long the work would take. While he appreciated having a metric to measure value. He didn't really have a frame of reference to truly validate the reference. If he knew what it took to build websites, he wouldn't be seeking companies like ours to do it for him. Moreover, because it was just an estimate, not only could he not be sure of the estimate, he was on the hook monetarily if we went over the estimate. What he needed was a solid price and a timeline for the features he requested. He'd judge if it was worth it him to have that feature and we could proceed. 

The more I thought about that discussion, the more obvious it became that the time and materials estimate approach for website development is flawed. The more time a vendor spends building your site, the more money they make. At the very least, they're looking to come to expend every hour in that estimate or they've "left money on the table." For the vendor, the better they get at building your site, the less profitable they become for the same set of functionality. This is all counter to the customer's best interests...it promotes inefficiency.

That conversation with Alex transformed our business. We introduced fixed price feature quotes for websites instead of hourly time and materials estimates. Our customers benefit from budgets they can count on (and timelines too). We are encouraged to put together features that are reusable from site to site and continually improve them. Our customers are happier, we're more profitable and we build better sites.

Why is Lucidus leaving Keene, New Hampshire? (Spoiler: We're Not...Not Even Close)

There have been more than a few surprised people around the region when I told them I'm moving my family to Northern Virginia (this month).

The first question..."Is Lucidus moving out of Keene?" I always reassure..."Lucidus was founded here and will remain a vital part of Keene and the Monadnock Region. We're not going anywhere." We've just committed to taking physical space with our partner, Communicators Group, at 9 Church Street. We actually have plans to expand our presence regionally.

Next question..."Are you leaving Lucidus?" Again reassurance..."Nope. I'm just opening a sales office in the most powerful city in the world." Perhaps we all feel self important enough to wonder how a company could ever move on without us but Lucidus has always been my baby. I have the gig I described on a road trip at 25 years old, when asked this question: "If you could do anything, what would you do?" I love my job; I love my company and I love the people I work with. I'll still personally be here in Keene every month to meet with clients, prospective clients and just plain old friends.

Then they get to the real question on their mind..."Then, why are you moving (personally)?"

Now that comes with a bit of background. Since moving to Keene in April of 2000, I have maintained that I'm "living the dream" of raising a family in the quintessential New England town. So, the first thing I let folks know is that I haven't fallen out of love with this region. I love this region in a deeper, more real way than the day I moved here. Much like a newlywed, I came to this town in love with the idea of Keene as much as the Keene itself.

Over the years, I've had the honor of serving with a state task force, the boards of StayWorkPlay, the Chamber of Commerce, Monadnock Economic Development Corporation and even the Council of Advisors for the medical center. Through those experiences as well as providing some sort of web consulting or service for pretty much every major organization in this region, I've come to love this region even more. There truly is no other micropolitan city (love that word) that compares with Keene.

**I have not fallen out of love with this place...I've come to love it more. **

We've talked for a number of years about expanding to other cities for Lucidus. I have maintained from the day we arrived that a business like ours MUST maintain both regional and national customers in order to thrive. We've done a great job at that, attracting clients from all over the country...but it's always been hard when the closest airport is an hour and a half away. So we've been thinking about a sales office in a larger metropolitan region for a number of years.

For the past couple of years (normally during the winter), we've discussed where we would open that office. We've considered lots of places like Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, etc. (We didn't mean to be so alliterative). Surprisingly, we never really considered northern Virginia mostly because both Christine and I grew up there and all of the reasons we loved Keene were counterpoints to why we didn't like living in NoVa. Most prominent? The traffic.

Never mind the fact that we have as deep a background in non-profit association member websites and portals as most anyone and Washington, DC has as high a concentration of those orgs as any place in the country. I couldn't stand the drive to work.

Never mind that my kids and wife were in the dumps every time we left from visiting our closest family and oldest friends. Sitting in a car for that long each day wasn't worth it.

Never mind that the town that always yawned at the hockey team I had passionately followed since early childhood had found hysteria in Rock the Red fever.

While there last year, my eldest said something pivotal while bemoaning once again leaving family to head back to Keene. "Dad, don't you get to choose where you drive to work?"

So with great joy and optimism, I'm taking my family back to where I grew up so they can be part of extended family like I did growing up. We're opening doors wider for Lucidus but we'll always be a New Hampshire company and we'll always be a part of the Monadnock Region. I'll be here every single month to take part in the community, both as a business and as an individual. (Our regional clients will likely see me more often now than they have in the past due to our focused approach here).