It was the usual hot and dry July 4th holiday in 2003. Tory, my youngest daughter and I were stuffing flyers in the mailboxes of my neighbors in Crossing South announcing the launch of a website project that I had been working on for about a year called atGeist.com.
Two weeks later, I got a letter and fine from the United States Postal Service for “postage due” on the flyers. Needless to say, the road to the success we’ve had over the last 10 years hasn’t always been easy.
As we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of atGeist.com, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the milestones along the way that were instrumental to our growth. If you have lived in the Geist area for more than 10 years, hopefully these will jog your memory, too.
July 2003: Launch of atGeist.com
After a year of designing and researching web domain names, atGeist.com was launched. The original prefix we wanted to use was “in” Geist dot com, but surrounding areas like Fishers and Carmel already had those domains reserved.
April 2004: First issue of the Geist Community Newsletter
Originally mailed to about 2,500 Geist Harbours Property Owners, the first issue was only 6 photocopied pages with a Papa Johns insert inside. We profited about $400, and to date, we’ve never lost money on a single issue.
September 2005: John and Tina Gianfagna
We profiled a couple from Windermere that was organizing a walk in the neighborhood to benefit a cancer charity that their late daughter has started called Creating Hope. Through that story and introduction to the Gianfagnas, the Vines for Life Wine Tasting Event evolved which now raises over $20,000 annually for area cancer charities.
October 2005: Launch of the Fishers Community Newsletter
We published a newsletter in Fishers and launched the second local portal, atFishers.com. Blame timing, an annexation, or just having the wrong business plan, but we ceased publication after only 12 months. However, lessons learned from the first attempt helped us to develop the licensing model we have today. It also marked our first full color newsletter.
November 2005: Geist Annexation
At a press conference the week of Thanksgiving, Town of Fishers officials announce the annexation of unincorporated areas around Geist Reservoir. Our Geist Community Newsletter became the voice of residents opposed to the annexation since over 90% of those affected signed a petition against the effort.
January 2007: Call Out for the Geist Half Marathon
We published a short blurb in the newsletter looking for locals to help organize a run around Geist Reservoir. What followed was an outpouring of support and help to launch the inaugural Geist Half Marathon & 5K the following year. To date, the event has raised over $250,000 for Geist area schools.
August 2008: TownePost Network Begins
Originally launched as atGeist.net, the TownePost Network launches as a local networking website for local business owners. It was rebranded as TownePost.com when other publications are launched serving the greater Indianapolis area.
September 2008: Carmel Community Newsletter Launches
After the failed Fishers expansion, we decide to go into Carmel and launched atCarmel.com. With other local monthly magazines ending or going out of business, our new model was well-received. It was later licensed in 2012 to Ann and John Cinnamon.
January 2009: atGeist.com Makes National News
A local money manager tries to fake his death near Birmingham, Alabama by jumping out of an airplane. While he’s on the run from the law, he emails me from a campground which eventually leads to his capture two days later. The story makes national news and lands me a spot on such shows as Good Morning America, Larry King Live, 20/20, Dateline, and even the Today Show.
July 2009: Geist Fireworks Moves
This was the first year the fireworks show was moved to the Geist Marina and the Fall Creek bridge was closed and used as a viewing area. Today, over 12,000 spectators come to the bridge and thousands more enjoy the Geist Lake Coalition’s 4th of July event from their boats or homes.
January 2010: Full-Time Position
I end my last consulting contract with AuthorHouse in Bloomington, committing full-time to atGeist.com and atCarmel.com. Up until this time, I was traveling to speak at various writers conferences around the country each month and managing their online lead generation program.
April 2010: Team Luke
We profiled a young boy named Luke Andritsch battling leukemia that had inspired his friends, neighbors, and classmates at Geist Elementary School to form Team Luke. They have participated in the Geist Half Marathon, Vines for Life Wine Tasting, and will be the benefiting charity at the upcoming Geist Triathlon on July 27.
April 2011: Expansion Begins
I meet Jody and Dann Veldkamp from Center Grove on the south side of Indianapolis to talk about our annexation fight and their incorporation efforts. One thing led to another and they launched the Center Grove Community Newsletter in April of 2012. We went on to launch atFishers.com (February 2013) and atZionsville.com (April 2013).
July 2011: GeistTV Launches
After a few years of doing video, we launch the video component of our media business by streaming the Geist Blast on the Bridge fireworks and CarmelFest parade live online. Both events have over 275 simultaneous live viewers with over 25,000 on demand views each after 30 days.
June 2012: Townies Super Local App Launches
Our Townies app debuts on iTunes and Google Play with our news feeds and the ability to upload photos and status updates to TownePost.com. The new release, scheduled for this summer, will feature mobile coupons from locally owned retailers.
November 2012: World Headquarters Moves
After nine years, we finally moved out of our house in Crossing South into an office above Eddy’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. We hired our first full-time employee, Alyssa Sander, and have since expanded into two more cubicles to support our growing media business.