ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — Whether it be restaurants or retailers, many businesses around Northeast Ohio are trying to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic by expanding their online presence. With so much to consider, however, a local e-commerce and web development consulting firm is offering its expertise for free.
Started out of his college dorm room in 2001, Josh Walsh's consulting firm, The Refinery, has grown to a 20 employee operation with several big name clients like Duck Tape and The Cleveland Clinic. To get to where the company is today, however, the e-commerce consulting company had to endure the burst of the dot-com bubble and the Great Recession a few years later.
Surviving and then thriving came with significant help from others, Walsh said.
"One of the reasons we were able to fight through those situations and other sorts of smaller crises is because we have such a good community around us that had the ability and stability to kind of reach out and help us," Walsh said. "We look where we are now in our position and we're looking at some of the other entrepreneurs who are just getting started... and are really struggling to figure out how to get through this. We're trying to be that helping hand that helped us through the years."
Walsh and The Refinery have offered their 'Path to Purchase' program for free to business owners impacted by COVID-19. The program includes one-on-one consulations and guidance on digital marketing strategy, design or development, e-commerce platform assistance, copywriting, search engine optimization and other useful insights.
Walsh said roughly two dozen business owners have taken advantage of the offer so far.
"I still have plenty of free time. I wish more people would take me up on it to be honest. I would love to help out as much as I possibly could," Walsh said. "The only thing I have ever done is run this business. I've never had another job. It's hard to imagine what it would be like to have -- in two months -- the fact that this business might not be here anymore. When I look at people on the other side who are saying my revenue is down 75% this week compared to the same week last year, that hits home for me."
Walsh said the reason for offering his services for free or at a heavily discounted rate come out of gratitude. His company, he said, has enough stability to get through the economic challenges that the COVID pandemic has created. However, that stability came as a result of those that came before him offering their help and guidance.
"One of our core values as a company is this idea that we're all in this together. We all live in the same world. When we make the world better for the people around us, our world also gets better at the same time," Walsh said. "We're looking at a place where we can use the experience we have to uplift the people around us and make things better for everybody."
For those that might be interested in Walsh's offer, click here.