[67] Scaling a Niche Web Design Service w/ Dustin Overbeck (Town Web)

[67] Scaling a Niche Web Design Service w/ Dustin Overbeck (Town Web)

 
 
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Today I’m talking to Dustin Overbeck. He runs TownWeb, a web design and hosting service focused on town municipalities.

It’s fascinating hearing someone selling to the Government market, as my previous guest Greg Berry.

A curious fact of Dustin is that basically all of his customers are based in the US, but he and his family have lived overseas for all the 11 years he was growing this business, whether in the Philippines, China, or Romania.

We talk how he evolved the team to remove himself from the business, the technical aspects of running a platform with over 400 customers, moving from a custom platform to WordPress, and a bunch of other stuff.

Enjoy!

Episode Notes

[4:44] Selling an utility to Government. Features a municipality website has to have.

  • “Our motto is to make clerk’s life easier, because generally that clerk is the person who receives questions for the council members, so we try to build the website to answer those questions.”
  • “Everybody is like, can you put a checkout page and accept credit cards… and I’m: No, everybody pays us with a check. And it take weeks…”
  • “Selling B2G is similar to B2C, but slower. […] Some project may take 2 years to develop because a website it’s just not a priority for some municipalities.”

[14:41] Payment cycles and statistics of a B2Gov business.

  • “The good thing about doing B2G is that they always pay. I’ve never had a non-sufficient funds check come through.”
  • “Typically when people are with us, they don’t want to switch around.”
  • “That was groundbreaking back then: we were doing database-driven design before WordPress was known for anything other than blogging.”

[25:35] Doing the first town websites from China, when WordPress and UpWork still didn’t existed. Dealing with clients with a 12h timezone difference.

  • “If I have any regrets it’s not hiring Filipino staff early enough to help out with technical support.”
  • “After I went through that stage (of being afraid to outsource support), that was transformative, because it freed me up to develop other products.”
  • “I knew their questions in the firsts 10 seconds, because when you have a productized service you have dozens of clients asking the same question.”

[35:33] Lifestyle milestones. Reaching the break-even point. The problem of over-automation. The importance of a human, personal onboarding process.

[44:09] Enjoying the lifestyle now. Taking flight lessons in Romania.

  • “We can always move back to the US, I can always go back to the Philippines. It just feels good and right being here at this moment of life.”

Links

  • Art Rothafel

    Great podcast. One question. I don’t know if to it ask here or go direct to Dustin.

    How do you manage the sites for updating plugins, etc. Are you using Infinite WordPress (IWP) or ManageWP or some other admin dashboard?

    • Hey Art! We use MainWP for managing the plugins, pushing updates, and sheduling backups to Amazon S3 & Glacier.

      It’s a self-hosted solution and more affordable than ManageWP when you get into the hundreds and hundreds of customers