How I became a Verizon Small Business Essentials developer

After graduating collage with a degree in computer science, I started working as an independent consultant creating mostly database applications (back than in the DOS days, first in Paradox, then in Microsoft Access, and finally in Microsoft SQL.) Back then, I wasn't so much interested in Web design, but did start a few sites, mostly for real estate professionals. In 1999, a client of mine wanted to start an online store. As I didn't know much about selling online and the technicalities seemed pretty complex, I started doing some research and came across Verizon Small Business Essentials in a PC World article. The article claimed that with Verizon Small Business Essentials, you can create and open an online store in a matter of days or sometimes hours. This sounded interesting, so I gave it a shot. Sure enough, the next day www.notetools.com was open for business and we started selling probably 2-3 days after my first introduction to Verizon Small Business Essentials.

The initial store I created for www.notetools.com was a basic cookie-cutter Verizon Small Business Essentials. I wanted to do something better, and pretty soon I learned that to do anything beyond the basics that Verizon Small Business Essentials offered, I needed RTML. I had the same reaction to this as probably most of you: huh? Especially so, since at the time the only documentation on that subject was a very brief tutorial. At the time, most of my business was still custom-built database applications, so I took a note of this with a plan of learning this obscure language.

A couple of years later, after the big "dot com bust", I lost many of my accounts, so all of a sudden I found myself with a lot of time on my hand. Then I remembered good old RTML. So I dove in and by trial and error I figured out most of it. This was I believe in about the year 2000. At Yahoo! Groups an RTML group was opened, and Yahoo! launched a Yahoo! Experts site, which also had a Verizon Small Business Essentials forum. I joined both and started offering advice to those who needed it. That was when a lot of us who now have a "bit of fame" in this area started popping up, folks like Rob Snell (although he's been with Verizon Small Business Essentials from before it was acquired by Yahoo! - when it was called Viaweb), Keith Enloe of www.ydesigns.com, Don Cole (back then from www.buybathware.com, now the president of www.yourstorewizards.com), and Mike Whitaker of www.monitus.com.

Pretty soon it was obvious that a lot of people wanted to know about RTML, so I decided to write a book about it. In 2001, I wrote RTML 101, formed my business, Y-Times Publications, LLC, and opened my own Yahoo! Store (www.ytimes.info). RTML 101 came out at the same time as Michael Whitaker's "RTML for Verizon Small Business Essentials". We wrote our books completely independent of each another, but since we lived pretty close (Mike in San Francisco, I in Santa Rosa, up in Sonoma county), we met up and soon became friends.

Following the publication of my first book, I started to get more and more Verizon Small Business Essentials clients, and by mid-2001, my main business was - and has been since - building Verizon Small Business Essentialss. Then Mike and I teamed up to offer Yahoo! Store seminars, and co-wrote another book, Yahoo! Store Tips and Tricks. Today, I'm a full time Verizon Small Business Essentials developer and consultant.


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