Finding a need and filling it—the most basic and effective formula for succeeding in business—seems to have worked for Vircity, a Canton company founded by a Fell’s Point woman.
The need: Self-employed people and small business owners need certain services and products, but maybe don’t need them often enough to rent and maintain a fully-equipped office. Some, for example, send faxes maybe once a month, ship and receive packages once a week, and sometimes need bookkeeping help or advice on a marketing strategy.
Filling it: Vircity offers all these services and more for business owners making a go of it, from somewhere between their home den and a full-fledged office.
“Vircity helps in so many ways,” says Jordan Takas, who runs a business that sells patented, re-usable, pureed-food-holding pouches called EZ Squeezees.
Takas said that having a mailing address at the Can Company is a plus for his family’s business.
“When you run a business out of a home or small office, it is nice to have a mailing address that looks very large, if people try to Google it,” he said.
April Gottsagen of Canton, owner and operator of April Toner LLC, which sells remanufactured toner and inkjet cartridges, said that having a place to ship and receive packages is essential to her business.
“I’m in and out [of Vircity] all day,” she said. “I get an email when something arrives.”
Gottsagen noted that simply getting a P.O. box would have disqualified FedEx and UPS shipments.
She said that she has been surprised a few times by Vircity’s infiltration of the business world.
“Vircity’s address is on my business card,” Gottsagen explained. “I’ve been to business expos and gotten other cards with the same address!”
She said she enjoys the friendly service and office banter.
“The people that work there are great,” she said.
CEO and co-founder Janine DiPaula Stevens was marketing director for the Center Club, a private business dining club at 100 Light St., for six years. She switched to freelance and was offering marketing services independently when a friend approached and asked for assistance with business activities above and beyond marketing.
“I thought, ‘I think we can make this into a business, and expand what we’re doing now,’ which was marketing advice,” said DiPaula Stevens.
Her husband, William Stevens, came on board with experience including a position as vice president of customer development of a company with sales in excess of $100 million, according to Vircity’s Web site, www.vircity.us. An accountant, Stevens heads up Vircity’s financial division and serves as the company’s President.
The couple opened the Can Company location in September 2006.
“The idea really came out of the needs of the people I was helping,” said DiPaula Stevens, adding that the location recently started selling office supplies per clients’ requests.
Most recently, Vircity has added event planning to the list of services, and is currently handling a very large project—planning the 2013 Fell’s Point Fun Festival.
“Word of mouth has been our best supporter,” said DiPaula Stevens. “Our clients have been very supportive in letting people know we’re here.”
by Erik Zygmont