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For Web design partners, the sky’s their limit

Four years ago, Viet Nguyen and Latrell Liptrot ran a Web design business from a coffee shop over a laptop. Today, the partners’ firm, Phu Concepts Inc., has its own office space, hundreds of clients and is mulling expansion.
Named after the island of Phu Quoc off the shore of Vietnam, Phu Concepts offers services such as print design, new media, hosting and marketing.
Nguyen estimates the business, which in its first year saw 50 to 100 clients, now has approximately 270 clients, with the client base continually growing. He projects the firm will post $1 million in revenues this year. Phu Concepts is located at 263 Central Ave.
The business began in 2004 when Liptrot, a 25-year-old aspiring model at the time, asked Nguyen, who was 14, to create an online portfolio for his modeling career. Nguyen did so for a small fee-$400-which was only a small portion of the thousands of dollars larger companies wanted. In one week, Liptrot’s portfolio was online.
Now 18, Nguyen, who also takes classes at Rochester Institute of Technology, and Liptrot, 29, have worked together to build a business not only for aspiring models but for any type of corporation, they say.
“We target it all,” Liptrot says. “Our main goal is to be a successful company, a name that is known and a service worldwide.”
The widely used service at Phu Concepts is Web design, maintenance and upgrades, Nguyen says.
Most Web sites cost between $1,000 and $50,000 to create and upkeep, Liptrot says.
Phu Concepts also offers economy Web sites, which cost $499 and are basic.
“They’re not ugly though,” Nguyen adds. “We don’t produce anything ugly. They are just simple and easy to do.”
Some of Phu Concepts’ clients include Biz Kid$, In-Control, Extreme Graphix Inc., QuickPix Photography Inc. and Smith+Accordo Architects PLLC.
Phu Concepts redesigned its office space from scratch-meeting and work areas are designed for teamwork, Nguyen says. Its team currently consists of nine employees. Six of these are designers and the remaining three manage projects. Each designer works on approximately five projects at a time, Nguyen says.
Most employees are hired from area colleges. Phu Concepts plans to institute a co-op program with RIT this fall. The firm also hopes to inspire local high school students, Nguyen says. His alma mater, East High School, has an internship program with Phu Concepts.
Phu Concepts’ client-designer relationships have helped with much of its marketing, including decals provided by Acid Graphics. The company gets business via word-of-mouth or through its referral program, which provides benefits for both the referred clients and the one who provided the referral, Nguyen says.
With business progressing as well as it is, Liptrot says he and Nguyen now plan to open a cafe-like shop here and another branch of Phu Concepts in Atlanta, where there is an open market for businesses like theirs. Eventually, they may add another partner.
Nguyen and Liptrot say the support of their families and the mentorship of Michael Shaw, owner of QuickPix, have been instrumental to Phu Concepts’ success.
In addition to running a growing business, the duo also is in the midst of reconstructing the first floor of their office to extend Phu Concepts’ services to include audio, video and photography. The aim is to become a “one-stop shop,” Nguyen says. The company currently outsources such work, he says, even to clients. For example, it sends photography work to QuickPix.
The first floor of Phu Concepts’ office will play another role: It will include an area to start an online radio station. The station will be largely a support for the Hispanic community in Rochester, Liptrot says, but is extended to the whole area.
“We plan to be a part of the upcoming future,” he says. “We plan to do big things.”
Laura Luettger is a Rochester Business Journal intern.

06/20/2008 (C) Rochester Business Journal

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