FORTY FORT — When the world was just beginning to realize the gargantuan potential in the Internet, Connor Scalleat and Mark Miscavage were in diapers.
“We’re 1996 babies,” Scalleat, 18, of Wapwallopen said. “When the Internet was born, we were born.”
The two friends met on the Internet, learned computer programming and design from the Internet, and now that the World Wide Web virtually is an essential part of just about everything, the two are ready to capitalize on it.
Scalleat and Miscavage, 18, of Pittston, founded Krate last year, though they’ve been developing Web products, applications and content since middle school.
Krate is a Web solutions company now housed in the uber-trendy Koral Building at 900 Rutter Ave., where they sell iPhone apps, e-commerce and Web design solutions.
They employ three subcontractors — a content editor and two photographers. They declined to share their client count, but Scalleat said their network of websites generates more than 10,000 unique weekly visitors and their clients exceed $1,000 in weekly Web sales.
Some of their clients include Powerhouse Eatery in White Haven, ScrubNuts.com and Ibop Coffee in Wilkes-Barre.
Their business model comes with no frills.
“We’re trying to enable small businesses to seem much larger than they are online, to be able to compete with bigger industries online,” Scalleat said.
While some tech companies look to lock in complicated packages with regular content production and customer service, at Krate, they want to crank out products, offer a little guidance and then push clients out on their own.
“Automation” is the word of the day. Whether they’re designing Web commerce apps that sync a client’s inventory with orders placed from an iPhone or customized cash register point-of-sale systems that run on an iPad, products that mean fewer headaches for the customer give Krate the freedom to innovate.
“At the end of the day, we’re really trying to have the small businesses engage in their own community,” Scalleat said. “‘Cause they know their products the best; they know the customers the best.”
Their birth into the formal market follows their recent 18th birthdays. As minors, they couldn’t subscribe to accounting and credit card processing applications.
Their age, from time to time, dampens their appeal to new customers, and potential clients have backed out or start to act differently when it comes to light the two friends became eligible for drivers licenses less only a few years ago.
“We both have closed deals while in the school bathroom on the phone with clients who believe we are most likely in an office,” Scalleat said.
It takes a little more to convince clients their youthful enthusiasm positions them to offer cutting-edge service, Scalleat, a Wyoming Seminary graduate, said.
Through optimizing their own Web tools, they hope to establish credibility so their products speak for themselves.
“At the end of the day, we do not want to do cold calls; we do not want to send emails,” Scalleat said. “We want to take orders.”
Both are enrolled to start college at Pace University in New York City this fall. Scalleat is studying economics. Miscavage a Pittston Area graduate, is taking up computer science. Their departure means they likely will vacate their current location, leaving the pingpong table, basketball hoop and Tiffany chandeliers behind.
When asked if they plan on returning to the Wyoming Valley at any time to continue Krate, Miscavage, who mostly remained quiet while tapping away at his Mac laptop, peeked over the top of his screen.
“No,” he said. “It’s not where it’s at.”
The Web is great for making collaboration easier, Scalleat said, but there’s nothing like working in the same geographical space, shaking hands and rubbing elbows with the folks who are doing the same thing as you. If they ever take Krate to the open market like they plan, it won’t be from Luzerne County, he said.
“Not to down on this region or anything, but that’s definitely one of the problems with operating a Web business in this region,” Scalleat said. “We really do not have the type of public relations connections that we need to have to release products on a regular basis.”