Bucks & Montgomery Living Magazine ran a feature on Inverse Paradox for the November ‘09 issue. The interview took place at Philadelphia University where Melissa and I first met. The article can be found in any of the Bucks & Montgomery Living Magazines or check out the New Hope Living edition where we are featured on the cover. You can also view the article on the Bucks & Montgomery Living website at http://www.buckslivingmag.com/2009/11/inverse-paradox/, or read it below.
Putting a personal, yet professional and successful stamp on your business.
By Shannon McLaughlin
In the summer of 2003, as fate would have it, two computer-savvy students met at Philadelphia University’s freshmen orientation. Neil Harner and Melissa Levenduski—who are now the web and graphic designers for Inverse Paradox—crossed paths. The two quickly became friends after realizing that, despite their different backgrounds and musical tastes, it turned out that they had a lot in common. A year had passed and the friendship was still growing strong. Levenduski was pursuing her graphic design degree, while Harner transferred to the Art Institute and eventually chose to leave college life to further pursue his business career by venturing into e-marketing.
“I think I learned more about design during that time, because I learned what works on the web, not just what looks good,” said Harner. “There are some design companies that just think about visual appeal and aesthetics, but for us, it’s how we are going to help achieve the business goal of our clients so they can get a return on their investment.”
During her senior year, Levenduski joined forces with Harner and they began to take freelance clients together. In 2007, Levenduski received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications and graduated Summa Cum Laude. Harner gave his two weeks notice on the day Levenduski graduated and in June 2007, Inverse Paradox was officially formed.
“When Melissa graduated with all of her design experience and knowledge, she took the reins and was able to visualize things and understand what we were going to achieve creatively within the company,” said Harner, who has since received his master’s in Business Administration from American Intercontinental University in Atlanta, GA.
Harner’s parents were kind enough to allow the ambitious duo to turn the master bedroom in their house into an office space. While Levenduski was the company’s graphic designer, Harner spent his days coding websites and gaining more and more clients. Within six months of operation, the company was growing fast and steady. In January 2008, Inverse Paradox moved into a 700 sq. ft. office space, with an additional part-time designer along for the ride, Amanda Mitchell, who is now their Senior Web Designer. The company soon started an internship program with Philadelphia University, while the three employees focused their energy on web and graphic design.
Now, after their 2nd year, the two 24-year-old entrepreneurs have gone from working in a 200 sq. ft. bedroom to running a successful graphic and website design firm in a 2,200 sq. ft. office, with 6 employees and over 200 clients. Today, Inverse Paradox offers small and midsize businesses and corporations web design, graphic design, advertising, e-mail marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), web-based advertising solutions and public relations. Their services have also grown to include CMS or Content Management System—which includes everything from WordPress blogs and e-commerce to Joomla!, a cutting edge portal engine and CMS, which Inverse Paradox is noted as being the best in the region by other design, marketing and ad agencies.
“We’re a one-stop shop for marketing your business,” Harner said, who now has an even fuller plate by handling the company’s project management, business operations and marketing.
Inverse Paradox stands out from competing web and design studios in more ways than one. From the bright turquoise and red walls in their office, to their youthful employees who obviously love what they are doing, it’s clear that Inverse Paradox has all of the ingredients for a lifetime of success.
“We believe in the happiness of our employees,” said Levenduski, the office’s health-conscious “mama bear” who can often be found going out of her way to make her employees lunch.
To anyone who knows them, the staff at Inverse Paradox is more like a close-knit (and at times, slightly dysfunctional) family than just a handful of disgruntled employees who dread coming into work the next morning. Harner and Levenduski have created an office environment where even Mondays are fun, for both the clients and for the staff of creative twenty-somethings who make sure that no detail goes unnoticed.
“Everyone here works hard, but they also play hard too. That’s what allows our creativity to really help the client,” said Harner, who has grown immensely since doodling the company’s logo in a college business class. “We all look at a website as being something we can put our stamp on and make really successful.”
Inverse Paradox is always looking to build new relationships with clients who are seeking a creative and successful edge on the web. Inverse Paradox is located at 4432 Bristol Road, Suite 1B in Oakford. For pricing inquiries, contact Neil Harner at (215) 809-2995 or visit inverse.wpengine.com.
Shannon McLaughlin is Bucks & Montgomery Living Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief.