by Jeremy Jones
The two things Jay Valinis loves most about his job are problems and solving them.
What his clients love most about Valinis is just that: He is a user-friendly port in the storm who helps navigate the creative and technological challenges of website design.
Turning a challenge into a solution is how Valinis got started in the business. His story serves as an invitation for anyone looking to build or rework a website – from start-up operation to successful entrepreneur. It’s also a great story for young people who will be inspired by how Javelin Design came to be.
With a keen talent for drawing and sketching, Valinis attended Drexel University with the intention of becoming an architectural engineer. He discovered pretty quickly he would rather work toward a BS in graphic design.
In 1994, his sophomore year, as part of Drexel’s cooperative education program, Valinis interviewed for internship as a graphic designer at Philadelphia magazine. The president and publisher of the magazine, David H. Lipson, Jr. (now chairman and CEO), asked Valinis if he knew how to make a website.
“These were the years when the Web was basically a new medium,” Valinis said. “Websites were few and far between, and the magazine was looking for someone who could help them create one. I didn’t know how. Drexel wasn’t offering courses like that at the time.
“So, I went home and decided to teach myself how to create a website. I’d always been interested in computers.”
In the meantime, he took a graphic design internship at Advanta banking company and after graduating in 1996, Valinis continued to work for Advanta during the day, but with his “passion for all things digital,” he was also building a clientèle for his website design services which he worked on from home at night. Not even a year out of college, and he had already established his own business: JV Design.
By 2000, Valinis could afford to leave Advanta and continue to work out of his home, devoting a 24/7 regimen to website design and growing a client base. His energy, drive, work ethic, and penchant for problem solving had paid off on the wings of a self-assigned challenge in sophomore year of college.
In 2002, Javelin Design LLC opened for business at 8523 Germantown Ave. in a perfectly compact space across from Top of the Hill Market, where Valinis now serves a stable of over 150 clients; many local to our village, including Caleb Meyer, The Hill Company, Palladio, the Chestnut Hill Local and the Chestnut Hill Community Association. And he is currently helping Our Mother of Consolation Church with its website renovations.
Just this week Valinis launched a new version of his own website.
While Javelin Design will continue to provide services, such as custom website-design, graphic design, brand identity, logo design, flash animation, website hosting and domain name registration, they’ve slowly been developing a new direction.
“We’ve become more of a consulting business,” said Valinis. “Everyone needs a website. It’s basically the modern equivalent of a Yellow Page ad. I set up this business so that people who aren’t technically savvy don’t have to be burdened with learning the intricacies of web design; people who want to talk to a ‘normal’ person who can advise them.”
As Palladio owner Jay Susanin said of working with Valinis on the Palladio Custom Framing & Art Production website, “Computer language can be so confusing. Jay makes it easy to understand. He reaches you on your level in an industry that can be very intimidating.”
“The initial consultation is very important to both of us [Valinis and the client],” said Valinis. “A lot of people come in and don’t know exactly what it is they need and what they want to achieve.
“I might show them examples or case studies of specific problems we have solved. Maybe they just want an online presence or portfolio. That’s different than a restaurant who wants to showcase upcoming specials, menus and events; they might be able to make use of additional modern-day tools like Twitter or Facebook. Some clients will benefit by using a customized web-based application; so it becomes a website but it’s beyond a website.
“We help you figure out solutions. It’s not just me. It’s collaborative. We listen, advise and help you make good decisions.”
Valinis takes the same philosophy outside the office and into the community.
Born, raised and living in Chestnut Hill with his wife and young sons, Valinis is on the Norwood-Fontbonne Academy Parents Association and serves on the board of the Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club. He has served on Our Mother of Consolation’s Parish Council and the boards of the Chestnut Hill Community Association and the Chestnut Hill Business Association.
Visit Javelin Design at www.javelindesign.com