|| Print ||
|Wednesday, August 21, 2013|
BY ERIC FLOWERS | BEND CORRESPONDENT
Dan Hobin spent the first chapter of his professional life riding the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley where he sharpened his management skills as an executive at startups like Beyond.com and the popular self-publishing platform SmashCast. His career path took a turn, however, when he and his wife came to Bend for a wedding more than a decade ago and fell in love with the town. Hobin saw not only mountains and rivers but a small city on the verge of emerging as a tech hub. Rather than wait for the boom, Hobin jumped in at the leading edge of the curve, founding the search marketing firm G5.
With just a handful of employees, the start-up focused on a few niche industries including self storage and multi-unit housing. G5 had a simple goal: push their clients’ websites to the top of the search results on popular browsers. Since that time, the company has grown from a dozen or so employees to more than 100 associates. It has been named one of the country’s best small employers by Inc. Magazine and continues to grow rapidly while maintaining a culture of creativity and experimentation. In addition to his day job, Hobin is a founder of the Bend Venture Conference, a community-based source of seed capital for local start-ups, and a member of the OSU-Cascades board.
Oregon Business spoke with Hobin about the evolution of search engine optimization, digital marketing and the intersection of work and play in Bend.
What’s behind the name G5?
Originally G5 related to getting our clients listed in the top five results of Google. At the time, 80% of consumers clicked on the top five search engine results. Since that time we have expanded our services to other areas of digital marketing, or what we now call Digital Experience Management.
You built a business around SEO before most people had heard of the term. What lead you to focus on that area?
SEO was actually a popular term to people in the industry — just not the average business owner. We were early at taking what was happening at the large enterprise level and bringing it down to smaller businesses. We are always trying to keep our clients on the cutting edge, which is why we have launched next generation mobile products, responsive design websites and Reputation Management tools.
What is the secret to staying ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing technology sector?
The secret is constantly testing with data and not chasing rainbows. There is always "the next new thing" that promises to get you more customers at a lower cost. The reality is that many of them do not work. We test new technologies and roll out the ones where we see promising results.
You’ve been in Bend for a decade — long enough to see the boom and the bust. What’s your read on Bend’s current economy? Do we have a future in tech?
When I moved to Bend I thought it was on the verge of taking off as a small tech hub. I was a little early. Ten years later it is actually happening. There are several new cool tech start-ups gaining traction. I am very bullish on the Bend tech scene. With bandwidth and the right people you can build a great company anywhere. Bend seems to attract amazing people who have the right priorities.
G5 has been focusing a lot on social and mobile marketing. Can you put the smart phone revolution into perspective with other historic technological innovations?
The smart phone is changing the world and will change every business. We have entered the age of the customer where the customer has more power than ever before. With smart phone in hand, the customer has access to more information about your products and services than ever before. He or she also has the power to rate and review your business to the whole world in seconds. Take very good care of your customers. The age of smoke and mirrors is over.
G5 has earned a reputation as one of the best companies to work for in Oregon and beyond. What’s the secret to keeping your employees happy and motivated?
We try to push the importance of maintaining balance in your life. That is not easy. Our primary core value is to work hard, play hard, and live life. Living life is the most important. I believe people appreciate our values.
You recently invested in a restaurant venture. Is that a hobby, side project, diversification or something else?
My brother-in-law opened Drake in downtown Bend with an amazing chef. I am just a small investor.
What’s your ideal three-day weekend?
We close our office at 1 p.m. on Fridays in the summer to take advantage of where we live. So my ideal two and a half day weekend is golf Friday afternoon followed by dinner with family and friends. Then I chase my three boys around this outdoor playground we live in — whether that is camping, fishing, biking or just hanging at some lake.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”
Thursday, August 28, 2014
OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Strong public schools shore up the economy, survey respondents say. But local schools demonstrate lackluster performance.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Tom Cox interviews Pete Friedes, author of "The 2R Manager," about becoming a Best Boss.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
David Howitt explains why Portland consumer brands like Stumptown and Voodoo Doughnuts are taking the world by storm.
|A Good Leap Forward|
|A Taste of Heaven|
|Fast Food Slows Down|
|Tight and Loose|
|Startup or Grow Up?|
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
First Call Resolution targets employee well-being and client satisfaction.
How six leading foundations are working together for a better Oregon.
Vigilant enters a New Year with a new president.
The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) is pleased to announce 12 finalists—from a record number of 67 nominees—for the 2014 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards
The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) is pleased to announce three finalists for the inaugural OEN Game Changer Award.