Janesville47.6°

Father, son team up to run Web business

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JAMES P. LEUTE
February 28, 2008
— One guy, the father, is an old-school sort with an extensive background as an attorney.

The other, the father’s son, cut his teeth on computers as he grew up in Janesville and developed his skills working his way through college and computer programming jobs.


These days, however, Larry and Chris Barton are partners in PlanetMadison, a Web development company. After four years, their union has produced SiteProspect, an online service targeted at Web site owners.


With SiteProspect, the Web site owner has one-click access to visitors, customers and user statistics, and can change content easily. The software also generates unlimited e-mail communication and e-mail campaigns with customers and visitors.


“It allows anyone with some basic Web site design experience to do to the programming without having to learn the program or sit there with programming books,” Chris Barton said.


As a Web site designer in Madison, Barton felt his customers’ frustrations in trying to make changes to their sites. Those changes, he felt, were far more awkward, time-consuming and expensive than they had to be.


“I thought this should be easier for me and for my customers,” said Barton, who lives in Madison with his wife and two daughters. “Why not create a solution that will let the small business have a Web presence like a big business—more than a simple billboard but without the big cost—one that can really let that smaller business get and keep customers.”


Though PlanetMadison was born as a Web site design company, it has evolved with the development of SiteProspect, a subscription-based product the Bartons hope will produce a continuous revenue stream.


“As a Web design shop, we realized that one guy couldn’t do everything,” said Larry Barton, who travels to Madison each week to handle the accounting and financial aspects of PlanetMadison. “You would contact someone, sell the Web site, develop the site, design it and launch it and then get paid. Then you’d look at the wall waiting for the next call.


“It wasn’t a great business model for one person to make a living and support a family.”


The Bartons plan to license SiteProspect to Web designers, who then can sell it to their clients. PlanetMadison has teamed up with Foremost Media, a Janesville Web site development business, to do just that.


As the company has taken shape, the Bartons’ personal relationship has blossomed as well.


“Being in business with your son as the boss is a real role reversal,” said the elder Barton, who retired from his daily responsibilities at the Nowlan & Mouat law firm in 2001. “You not only have the usual challenges of any new business, but the added dynamics of family.


“We are both control freaks. I had to step back, and it has worked.”


To learn more
For more information about PlanetMadison, visit www.siteprospect.com, e-mail sales@siteprospect.com or call Chris Barton at (608) 274-3700.

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