For those who have had the first meeting to discuss the possibility of a website redesign or build, you have most likely already spoken with our web designer Dylan Steven. What you might not know, is that he is also the CEO of 118Group. The way he came to be the CEO of a web design company has been quite the roundabout journey.
Dylan's path began at a bakery called Kayak Cookies located in Hyannis, MA. His boss and the owner of Kayak, Terri Horn, decided she wanted a website redesign. At this time, there weren’t many options for Terri, and Dylan offered to do it for her “without knowing a thing about designing websites for companies.” He began with no knowledge on how to build a website but ended up learning how to shoot product photography, design a strong navigation system, create great content and even manage shipping, inventory, and order fulfillment. Interestingly enough, Kayak Cookies website was originally on WordPress, however, when Dylan first began he was overwhelmed by WordPress and switched her site to Squarespace. Fast-forward to today, 118Group exclusively works on WordPress. This website was Dylan’s stepping stone into the web design industry. Having gone through the start to finish on a website gave him the confidence to pursue more projects like that of Kayak Cookies.
From there Dylan continued his journey, reaching out to local businesses, making connections everywhere he went and offering his services at really steep discounts, “essentially pro bono.” His goal was to keep gaining experience, and did so for a while before he started his own company called Saddleback Solutions. He worked with one other web designer at his own Communications start-up company in order to offer services on a larger scale, and eventually shifted to working with 118Group.
Running a company is no easy task, but Dylan acknowledges all the challenges and faces them head-on. He finds that “the main challenge comes down to your confidence, decision-making, and ability to lead.” He feels a lot of pressure to make sure he continues to move 118Group in the right direction because his employee’s livelihoods depend on it, though he finds that the rewards far exceed those pressures. The best reward for Dylan is when his team works well together, “when [he] sees [them] flow on a project, resolve an issue or tackle a problem together, and when things fit together like pieces in a puzzle, that is the most rewarding part of [his] job.”
Other important moments that make his job so rewarding are when his clients fall in love with the websites that 118Group has planned and created. It’s moments like those that “reconfirm [his] passion.” He knows that it is not just a website to his clients, it is their entire lives' work and vision amplified on the web. For him to see their vision come to life and know his company played a role in that, is really rewarding to him.
As a CEO, Dylan has many goals for 118Group. The most important one to him is his team feeling empowered through the work that they do. He wants “each person on [his] team to be an expert in what they do, and [he] wants them to build a life that they love.” Dylan always says you get what you want out of this company; you make it what you want it to be on an individual level. Dylan wants “to build a company where everybody on [his] team gets what they want, has a rewarding job, and is part of our larger community.” If his team can feel that empowerment then he considers his goals a success. For his clients, his goals are to have the same clients today in five years because it would affirm that his company is providing a “top-notch solution.” He wants to be the same quality partner five years from now as he is today.
Outside of the office, you can find Dylan practicing his mixed martial arts skills. He began his passion for MMA in high school at a local Cape Cod studio, Hyannis Mixed Martial Arts Gym, doing “a little jujitsu, kickboxing, and workouts in general.” After moving to western Massachusetts, he found another place to practice his skills. He began to get really serious about his passion in the past two years, partaking in amateur fights. He’s had a boxing match and a kickboxing match, which has really put his skills to the test. To him “it is a great way to move around, to meet people and to test [himself], especially after [he has] spent 8 hours at a desk.” In his opinion, he finds it vital to move around and work up a sweat after being in one spot all day for his job.