GROWING up in a large, socially active family has had an impact on Jess van Netten’s first solo business.
The 29-year-old is the founder of Wallsend firm Dot Jess, which designs websites and provides IT support.
“My business mission is create and educate. I don’t ever want to say ‘Here’s a product’ and then not give a client information to support them,” says Ms van Netten. “Community is most critical to me. In a business world it’s easy to be ‘corporate, corporate, corporate’, but we have a local community who needs equal support from the business community.”
One of five children with a teacher mother and businessman father, Ms van Netten has worked in retail as she’s studied (currently a Bachelor of Internet Communication) over the past decade.
Most recently she worked for five years for Apple, initially at its Charlestown Square store before working as an engagement officer, a role that entailed keeping Apple’s remote workers job-satisfied and connected.
“At times I would design interactive activities that were sent out in multiple languages to more than 20,000 employees; it’s hard not to feel proud of that,” she says.
Ms van Netten founded her business in June 2017 to be able to “call the shots” on her level of customer service and connect with her community. Feedback from her friends and family in small business focused on their frustration with technology and, specifically, web design.
“There’s a lot of jargon in the industry and they found I was explaining what they couldn’t get from their current providers a lot better,” she says. “I wanted to offer an affordable service for them by giving them the quality of service they would get in a more expensive company.”
She says a common mistake SMEs make in getting a website is to rely on word of mouth rather than comparing providers. They also wrongly believe they can’t maintain their website.
“Because I’m passionate about education, every one of my clients can maintain their site and not lock into maintenance fees,” she says.
Ms van Netten offers technology lessons to a range of clients. Surprisingly, some are young: “We think of them as the tech savvy generation but there are always people with different skills in every generation,’” she says.
Having close ties with her grandparents, Ms van Netten says helping elderly clients with IT has been “life-changing” in improving their social connectivity and well-being.
Ms van Netten volunteers weekly at Hunter Wetlands Centre: “It’s one thing to be impacting global employees on a work level, it’s something else to be working hands-on in the community and see the ripples of your impact every day.”