Nelson IT Business
Nick and Hannah Ippolito
Hannah was an Eyebright girl from a way back. She used to help me after school with my dried flowers, and she worked in the shop during holidays and on weekends.
Because she was tech savvy, we promoted her to the frustrating, and largely fruitless role of trying to wring benefit from the clunky website Eyebright had at the time.
Those were the bad old website days, when you needed costly support every time you wanted to change anything. We were gripped by the delusion that our way forward was online sales. That was until we realised that we were spending two dollars to make one.
Ecommerce works if you have lots of units to back up a few products, but it doesn’t work if you have lots of products, but relatively few units of each product. We were constantly taking things on and off the website, and spending heaps.
Never idle, Hannah also had her own business, making wedding dresses to order.
Her next move was a job at an outdoor adventure school in the Waikato.
That’s where she met Nick.
Nick and her moved to Christchurch, where Hannah studied fashion design at the Design Arts College of NZ, and Nick worked as an outdoor instructor.
In 2007, Nick and Hannah married. When Hannah graduated in 2008, they flew off to Nick’s native America. In Seattle, (Nick’s hometown) Hannah found a ready market for her dress making, so they decided to extend their stay beyond the six-month allowed by Hannah’s Visa. First, however, Hannah had to leave America, because you can’t apply for extensions while still in the country.
She returned to New Zealand, dispatched the required forms, and got turned down. After three months, Nick came back to New Zealand.
His first job was picking apples, but he was then offered a position at the Hope Community Church. For six years he was their youth pastor. During that time, the couple’s family grew to five, with the arrival of one boy and then two girls.
Nick is nothing if not versatile. His next move was setting up his own business doing website design. and he and Hannah relocated a 1904 villa from Kawa Street in Nelson to a property they bought in the Moutere Hills.
Hannah changed her career from dress maker, to photographer; Mainly weddings, initially with established photographer, Jude Saxon, and then working for herself under the name ‘Sweetpea Photography.
‘SquareKicker’ was born in the early days of the first Covid lockdown (March 2020). With the lockdown Nick’s work diminished to a trickle, and for Hannah, work dried up completely.
They could have survived on the wage subsidy, while waiting for the things to return to normal, but instead Nick got busy.
Normally you have IT people who are gifted at development (writing code), and IT people who are gifted at design (creating attractive, usable visuals). Nick has aptitude in both, but the idea he came up with was to automate coding and release designers from that distraction.
Easy to say. Not easy to do. But working very hard and smart with fellow developers, they achieved this, packaged it, and called it SquareKicker.
Hannah never went back to photography. She stepped into administration of what became a growing business. Physical space is now the most pressing issue. At their present size, staff are practically bumping elbows. Finding a suitable larger space has, so far, proved to be problematic.
In trying to find the SquareKicker premises I entered the old Nelson Mail building and stumbled across a technology suite, like ones I had only seen on stylish movies. It was a large room exuding purposeful calm. People, less than half my age, worked at monitors, or collaborated in quiet tones.
I was running late for my appointment, so, casting reticence aside, I raised my voice and asked if anyone knew where I could find Hannah Ippolito. No one could, so I retreated down-stairs, past the push bikes in the foyer, and phoned Hannah. She assured me that I was far from the first one to get lost. There’re three buildings all with the address ’15 Bridge Street’. It is the old Nelson Evening Mail complex. She told me to wait for her on the foot path.
SquareKicker resided in what was previously the home of the printing press. Talk about a sign of the times! The building that, for decades, disgorged newspapers, now housed the technology that has made print media an endangered species.
‘SquareKicker’ is a Nelson IT poster child, with eight employees in addition to its owners. It’s product is an add-on which enhances the American website template, ‘Squarespace’ (1800 employees).
SquareKicker, when added to Squarespace, makes it possible for novices to manipulate images and text using simple commands. Without SquareKicker, you need to have code writing experience. SquareKicker makes it possible to for bunnies, like me, to prepare our own websites, or for web designers to save a lot of time.
You may ask, what does Squarespace feel about SquareKicker latching onto its templates. Nick was invited to attend, and speak at, Squarespace’s annual conference in New York, and can report that Squarespace is happy for SquareKicker to add value added to their product.
The number one issue confronting Hannah and Nick right now is space. Staff are practically bumping elbows, and the business is in growth mode. More staff will be needed.
SquareKicker is exactly the type of business we need more of: Non-polluting, creative, exportable, and well paying.
P.S. If you’d like to see a superb website click here: https://www.squarekicker.com/company