Philip Laboon was just looking for work when he took a job as a personal assistant to a CEO.
Then he noticed the company had no website, so sensing an opportunity, he went to the boss.
“How about this: I’ll build it. Just give me a commission off the sales,” Laboon told the CEO. He was given the go-ahead, and soon, a personal assistant barely out of his teens was making more money than almost anyone at the company.
Unfortunately, once the Web traffic reached a certain level, the company let him go. By that point, Laboon was ready to begin a search engine optimization/Internet marketing consultancy, and Eyeflow LLC was born.
“I would never have guessed things would grow the way they have,” he said.
Laboon started Eyeflow with no backers and still owns 100 percent of the firm.
“Phil is 100 percent responsible for the growth and direction of Eyeflow,” said CFO Kathleen Laboon, Phil’s mother, who has worked with her son for five years. “He has grown the company from a one-person shop to 20 full-time employees.”
Laboon, however, has not been content to just grow an Internet marketing firm. He also harbored aspirations of acting as an incubator for business ideas. That has led him to use some of Eyeflow’s profit to fund other ventures, including a software development company, Breathalyzer key chains, a real estate brokerage and, his latest venture, a bar/arcade on the South Side.
Where does he want to be in 10 years?
“We’re kind of in this zone where I really couldn’t say where we’re going to be in 10 years partly because we’ve changed so much,” Laboon said.
Eyeflow has spent enough time fielding work from Fortune 1000 companies that it’s now building a secondary company that would cater to smaller businesses.
“So we kind of have these two businesses going at the same time,” Laboon said. “Who knows? That could be a better business for us — of catering to a wider base. Is it better than high-end consulting? Maybe.”