Ian Evenstar, CEO and Founder
The Fordney Foundation is going behind-the-scenes to introduce you to our secret weapon in making us look good! We thought we’d introduce you to our highly evolved, technical, digital and web design team. We couldn’t do it with them and we are grateful that they keep our website up to date.
Please enjoy this informative interview with the CEO and Founder of UNINCORPORATED, Ian Evenstar. We really appreciate that Ian took the time, from his busy schedule, to answer a few questions on behalf of the Fordney Foundation.
Freddie Brock: How long have you known Marilyn (Winkie) Fordney and how long have you been working with the Fordney Foundation?
Ian Evenstar: I met Marilyn Fordney nine years ago when we first started working with non-profit organizations. Our agency has worked with her ever since then, and we have been very fortunate to help the Fordney Foundation since 2012. Next year will make it 8 years!
FB: What year did you establish your business? How many people are employed in your company/agency?
IE: I founded the agency in 2003, but I was only working on the business in a part-time capacity. During those early years of the business, I had two other partners, but no employees. By 2011, I had bought out the other partners and was putting all of my time into the agency. We hired our first full-time employee in the summer of 2011, and we now employ eight full-time employees as our leadership team and engage over 50 independent contractors from all over the world.
FB: I did notice that you refer to your company as an agency? Can you tell us the difference between the two and why you call it an agency?
IE: Essentially, an agency is a company that works on behalf of other companies. The companies that an agency works for are referred to as clients. You can think of an agency (and the collection of agency employees) as an “agent” that goes to work every day to build the success and reputation of their clients. There are many types of agencies, for example, some specialize in marketing or PR, whereas others, like UNINCORPORATED, specialize in web design, digital marketing, and branding.
FB: How do you and your staff keep up with all the new digital media and marketing changes that occur almost daily?
IE: This is true, digital media and marketing are always changing. To keep up, we have a very rigorous professional development program where every employee is expected to continue learning, reading, and keeping their professional certifications current. We also require that whatever the team members learn, they must present it to the rest of the leadership team, so everyone at the agency continues to evolve and grow collectively. One of our most important core values at UNINCORPORATED is “Knowledge,” and this value is exemplified in the fact that we remain committed to continual learning and the pursuit of knowledge. We had situations in the past where a new employee didn’t place the same priority on continued education, and even though their work was very good, we had to let them go because we weren’t aligned with this company value.
FB: Because of your years of experience, is it fair to say, you could do a website, digital marketing, etc. for any person or business?
IE: This is true. We have a lot of people and businesses that ask us to help, but we have to turn them away or refer them to someone else because our agency is primarily focused on higher education and non-profit clients. That said, I try to give back as much as possible and teach others, so I am always happy to consult with anyone who needs some guidance on their website, marketing, or branding.
FB: When I first started, you were the one who taught me how to do blogs technically. I’m very grateful for that opportunity. Do you find that more people are blogging these days and do you think that media platform will continue to grow?
IE: That is a very kind thing to say, thank you. I’m grateful that I have been given the talent and opportunity to teach others and help people grow. My love of teaching and helping others is why I also teach advanced design courses at Cal State LA as a part-time faculty member.
Regarding blogging, more brands and marketers are increasing their use of blogging, and they are spending more time writing their posts. According to Statista, it is predicted that by 2020 the number of bloggers will continue to grow to 31.7 million bloggers. The reason for these increases is that blogging is still an essential strategy for optimizing your website for search (e.g., SEO) and gaining website traffic. Additionally, I believe there will be more specialization in blogging, and people will be writing with a narrower focus on specific topics or areas of interest. In other words, effective blogging and content development will trend toward more depth (i.e., quality) than breadth (i.e., quantity), so the blogs stand out among the high volume of information online and provide relevant value to a specific audience.
FB: Please tell us how you manage to keep Fordney Foundation current, updated, in high-performance technical mode, etc., as we’ve seen quite a few changes to our site over the years? In other words, once a person/company has a website, what denotes taking it down and re-doing it completely, if at all?
IE: Websites are a great medium because they are so flexible and impermanent. Typically, we think of things that are impermanent as a negative, but with sites, they are “living documents,” and this means that you usually don’t need to take it down and re-do it completely. If the website has been set up correctly from the beginning and has a good CMS (content management system), you can make iterative improvements and changes over time. Through this process, the site will evolve and stay current. There are a handful of reasons why you may need to re-do a website completely (e.g., the website was hacked, the company was acquired, etc.), but even in those instances, the site might have a completely new look and feel, but the core of the content (i.e., the database) can usually be used for the new site.
FB: What excites you about the business you are in? What new advancements do you see coming down the turnpike that will keep you continually innovative, fresh and relevant?
IE: What excites me about my business is that I get to work with some amazing people every day and directly support the success of non-profit organizations and universities. I believe strongly in the mission of our clients, and the more my team and I can help them, the more we prosper as well. It’s a very symbiotic and healthy relationship. The other thing that excites me is that I’m able to continue learning and growing professionally, and then readily apply that knowledge for everyone’s betterment.
FB: Let’s say someone in the dance world reads this interview and is considering calling you. What would you say to that person to ensure that their (dance world) website would be cutting edge and stand the test of time?
IE: I usually don’t start the conversation with prospective clients around their website. Even though their website is a very important aspect of their brand, perhaps even the most important when it comes to their brand image, I’m more interested in learning what their goals and challenges are. If I can listen and understand the details of what they’re trying to accomplish and what is standing in their way, I’ll be better prepared to help them with more than just their website.
However, if they want advice specifically about their website, I would ask them if their website works well on mobile devices and if their site has the right content for people to find the site through a Google search. To stand the test of time, your website needs to work well on mobile devices and have content that is relevant to your audience.
FB: Please share any website/media tips you think people should use, be aware of, etc. We can always use more tools to make our media experiences better.
IE: As I mentioned above, your website has to work well on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. In 2019, approximately 50% of all web traffic came from mobile devices. This means that if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re missing half of your audience. The other thing people should be considering and prioritizing is their content strategy. Assuming that they are producing content on their website (e.g., photos, videos, blogs, etc.) they need to make sure that the content is aligned with who they are trying to reach and what that person is looking for, what they are thinking, and how they are feeling. We call this “empathy mapping” – where we imagine our typical (or ideal) website visitor and think to ourselves, “If I were them, what would I want to see? What would be helpful and relevant to me?”
FB: We want to give a special shout out to Rebecca Koller, Art Director, who continually works with us in updating and making changes to our site, as needed. We appreciate both of you, as well as all of your staff and look forward to our continued growth together.
IE: Thank you. We are all very proud to have been Fordney Foundation’s preferred agency partner for so many years and look forward to continuing our success together.
I’ve taken the liberty to include your information, in case any of our readers would like to have as great a media experience as we’ve had all these years!
CEO / Founder
1500 West Alhambra Rd. – Ste. 6
Alhambra, CA 91801