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BI Celebrates 20 Years
When Harry Bartlett started a webshop back in 1998 Facebook was 6 years away from starting, Google had recently changed their name from “Backrub”, and only about 25% of households had an Internet connection, let alone a personal computer. But times were changing rapidly.
Bartlett Interactive (BI) originally started in an old mill building on Morse Street in Watertown, MA. Harry had worked as a multimedia producer, photographer, and designer for the past 14 years when the opportunity arose to start a webshop. While playing music after hours with a friend, Neal Johnson, the idea took hold. Neal was a web developer and owner of Cadent Technologies. Harry was operating under the name Bartlett Creative and they merged to form Cadent.com. Their first client - MuseumShop.com - needed a logo, UX design and front end development for their e-commerce site which sold museum gifts from the top museums in the U.S. The back end of the site used a new, expensive, proprietary application written in C++.
MuseumShop.com went on to be named as a top 10 e-commerce site by Forbes, however, the day the site launched, the e-commerce provider decided to close, leaving an unsupported shopping cart. This was an important first lesson and left a lasting impression - be wary of anything custom or proprietary with a small user base in the web world.
“That first project structured our company and gave it direction.” According to Harry, “ From then on we did everything in house - branding, UX, front-end and back-end development, using non-proprietary open source software when possible enabling us to create higher quality, less expensive and longer lasting sites.”
It was relatively easy to land new business from ‘98 - ‘01 (the era of the “.coms”) but then everything changed after the 9/11 attacks and the .coms became .bombs. After the original partners left, Harry continued on under the name Bartlett Interactive.
“During the recession of the early 2000s was when I really learned how to work with clients.” Harry notes, “In hindsight going from a company of about 12 people in ‘99, to myself and freelancers during the recession of ‘01 was a good thing. I think it’s better to establish a company during a recession than when the economy is overheated. It forces you to deliver value.”
Today the company is comprised of 10 people focused on branding, UX design, Internet marketing, and web development. The company has worked for over 400 clients and completed 1,600 projects. Creating award-winning websites and developing Internet marketing programs for nonprofits and commercial businesses in industries such as health services, technology, education, biotech, the environment, and professional services.