In this episode, Alex Melen, founder of SmartSites, shares us some insights on scaling businesses, building company culture, and hiring and management processes. You also don’t want to miss his SEO tips on making your website rank better.
Alex Melen is an award-winning entrepreneur best known for his first free web hosting company, T35 Hosting, founded in 1997. He has been featured in Business Week’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25, Bloomberg, Forbes, NPR, and more. Today, he is the Co-Founder of SmartSites, an advertising agency which was featured in the INC5000 as one of the fastest-growing agencies in the world.
Alex's Speaking Engagement Calendar
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SKIP TO THE GOOD PARTS:
00:55 - 05:18 - Humble beginnings of Alex Melen in the Digital Space.
05:35 - 08:52 - SmartSitesin numbers: business model, employees, and revenue
09:03 - 11:00 - Monopolizing digital marketing services for almost every single auto brand.
11:00 - 14:20 - Secrets of scaling: Focus on small medium-sized business
17:55 - 20:05 - Cons of scaling too quick
20:35 - 23:18 - What’s managing and building a company culture like?
26:03 - 30:01 - Alex’s insights in hiring and management processes and challenges
33:08 - 37:34 - Three pillars of SEO: Optimizing your website to rank better.
37:34 - 43:11 - Thoughts on paying for backlinks and getting penalized by Google
43:32 - 45:29 - Dealing with the thought of ‘growing too fast and growing not fast enough’
Michael Bereslavsky: Hi Alex, thanks for joining. So where are you calling from?
Alex Melen: I am calling from Paramus, New Jersey. So, we're right outside of New York City.
Michael Bereslavsky: Nice. So, we first met last year and we're both speaking at that conference and Spain. Had a really nice chat and turns out we have quite a few things in common. So, I'm really glad to finally catch up.
Alex Melen: Yeah definitely.
Michael Bereslavsky: And you've been actually involved in the digital space for much longer than I have. Could you give us a quick background story about how you got you started, how you start your first company and how it evolved to the current business?
Alex Melen: Yeah definitely. I started my first company way back in 1997. It was a web hosting company called T35 Hosting. For those who were involved back then in the space, there was around the same time GeoCitiesstarted Tripod, Hypermart, I think I actually started a couple of months before GeoCities.
So that was the space that was started and the original idea for T35 Hosting which actually rings even true today, was to allow people to freely and instantly post something on the internet, have the access all over the world. So right now, it seems silly to even say something like that because almost everything we do is like that. But back then it was a whole different world. So back then if you wanted to start a website you would have to go to your internet providers like AT&T, Horizons of the world. Horizon didn't even exist the way it does now back then. And they would have to provide it for you and you would have to wait six to nine months. Spend like 50 grand and that's how you would have a website accessible on the internet. So, the idea with T35 Hosting and similarly to a lot of the other free web hosts that cropped up at the time is to allow someone freely to publish content that's accessible all over the Internet and really allow anyone to do it not just the bigger company.
So that was started in 1997, a long time ago. Well if I try to come back many years of what it is now, it's a little scary. So, I started back in '97. I grew that to a little bit over a million customers before running.
So, a lot of roadblocks and challenges and funny enough the T35 Hosting still exists and no longer providing free web hosting and focusing more on the business side of what hosting but still s