As his Web page design business was getting off the ground last year, Matthew D’Andria went hunting for office space.

Just 20 years old at the time, D’Andria didn’t command much respect. One office leasing broker told him to come back with his father.

“People didn’t take us serious then,” said D’Andria, now 21. “But they take us serious now.”

Indeed, CyberNation LLC the firm founded by D’Andria and 21-year-old colleague Adam Pisolo boasts a enviable roster of clients, including Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., KIA Motors, Professional Discount Securities and video game maker Activision Inc.

The company designs “pages” on the Internet’s World Wide Web interactive screen images that showcase company products or services at a competitive price.

Robert Johnson, online service coordinator with Capcom Entertainment Inc., a video game maker in Sunnyvale, said CyberNation typically charges less than half that of a top notch design firm for the same quality Web site work.

“We chose them because they impressed us a great deal,” Johnson said. “This is a young industry and their design and programming is definitely cutting edge.”

Incorporated in April of 1996, CyberNation had revenues of about $100,000 last year and is looking at $1.2 million this year, according to D’Andria. He said the company has no debt, and is now “living off profits,” though much of that money will be plowed into additional equipment and other reinvestments.

CyberNation was spawned in the fall of 1994 in the computer lab of the Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Ariz., where D’Andria was studying film and video production and Pisoni was studying music.

Friends since pre-school, the pair did all their college research on the Internet instead of the library a feat that prompted one of their friends, a custom T-shirt maker, to ask them to design a Web site.

“The site for our friend’s business got great response, and we then thought we could make a business out of this,” Pisoni said.

They didn’t go back to school the next year and instead moved to California in late 1995 “because California is where it’s at for computers and design,” D’Andria said.

With their own funds and money from family members and friends, D’Andria and Pisoni assembled $150,000, rented the Santa Monica office space (without help from anyone’s father) and assembled a staff that included Pisoni’s brother, who ran the computer systems at Biola College in La Mirada. David Simon, a young attorney and legal writer whose office was next door to their Santa Monica Boulevard office, was brought in as president.

With D’Andria as the creative head and Pisoni as the chief of the technical side, the four began targeting the kinds of clients they saw as the most desirable for Web business.

CyberNation’s first break came through a writer from Wired magazine, a popular journal for computer buffs, who became intrigued with the company’s story and recommended to a friend at Capcom to look at CyberNation’s work.

Capcom became its first client. CyberNation parlayed that deal into one with Santa Monica ad agency Rubin Postaer & Associates to develop Websites for its clients. These included American Honda Motor Co. Inc. and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“CyberNation is a young and fresh company with excellent design and a strong programming team,” said David Vonderkarr, the online marketing manager for Activision, which has the company launch Web sites for almost each new game it releases.

“We like it that they’re not stifled by backgrounds in other technology which they then try to apply to the Internet,” he said.

Donat/Wald Co., a Santa Monica ad agency, recently hired CyberNation to develop advertising on Web pages.

“A lot of advertising companies try to apply their advertising in print or on TV to Web advertising,” said company principal Lucas Donat. “The Internet has its own set of rules, and CyberNation has developed a strategy for how to advertise there.”

This “strategy” means doing more than displaying a company’s name and product, D’Andria said. In the ad for Professional Discount Securities, for instance, when a person clicks on an Internet advertisement that says, “trade stocks for $10,” the person will not be sent to the company’s home page, but to a page that gives specific information about how they can trade cheaply.

As for its client base, CyberNation is getting choosy.

When it was founded, it mostly created sites with 50 or less pages of information; today it won’t accept an assignment with less than 200 pages.

As the 17-member firm expands at about one new employee every two months, its principals are determined not to lose personal contact with customers.

And then “in a few years,” the owners intend to sell off part of the company or go public.

“We’re still young and we plan on being here with the company for a long time,” D’Andria said.


CyberNation LLC

Year founded: 1996

Core Business: Internet Web page design and programming

Top executive: David R. Simon

Revenues in 1996: $100,000

Revenues in 1997: $1.2 million (projected)

Employees in 1996: 4

Employees in 1997: 17

Goal: To devise ways for clients to capitalize on the commercial potential of the internet.

Driving force: Demand among businesses to use the Internet as a means of advertising and sales.

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