Darrin J. Ward

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Who Am I?

I'm just a regular guy that happens to really enjoy starting and building companies from scratch. I like to think that I have have a healthy balance of OCD, addiction to learning new things, a very strong work ethic, combined with a smidgen of neuroticism.

I call it a "healthy balance" because it is these qualities that have led me to be somewhat successful in achieving my goals. Don't for a second think that I am being egotistical – I have failed in more things than I care to remember, but I firmly believe that my failures are a prerequisite for success. I will fail many times in the future too; It is inevitable, but rarely – if ever – do I "give up" unless I am proven wrong.

In reality, it's probably not "healthy" to be working 15-20 hour days, but I love what I do and I will probably keep on doing it until I am forced to stop. I'm 32, so let's hope that's a long way off.

So, What Exactly Do I Do?

I am a very ambitious big-thinker. I'm a problem solver that thinks outside of the proverbial box – that's what I do. When I take ownership of a problem I will not rest until there is a viable solution.

I focus on challenging problems that I enjoy solving, where I can roll up my sleeves to get the job done. And despite having some level of success and the freedom to be selective with projects, I still work harder than most people I know.

I specialize in finding technological solutions to problems that might not have been previously thought possible, or so difficult that nobody bothered to try. For the past 10-15 years I've focused almost exclusively on Internet/Website/Infrastructure projects but I have a diverse background and knowledge base.

What makes me unique is that although my background is in technology, I am very attune to business fundamentals and logistics. I have started several businesses from inception and ultimately sold them as profitable businesses.

Some Things I've Done

These are just projects that I have founded or currently own. I prefer to keep clients private.

SEO Chat™

Founder; Started way back when – I think the Google Dance Tool was in 2001 and SEOChat was 2002; or thereabouts (I'm not good with dates). SEOChat grew to be one of the most popular SEO / Internet Marketing communities. I can take credit for starting the site and getting the ball rolling, but I would be remiss to take full credit. I was fortunate to have some of the industry's most prominent personalities join me in the community. Those people include Barry Schwartz of RustyBrick and Jim Boykin of Web Build Pages (now Internet Marketing Ninjas), among many others. It was having these people on-board that made the site a success. I sold SEOChat in 2003 and can you believe it – about 10 years hence, Jim Boykin acquired the site from a third party after it changed hands a few times. I commend Jim for trying to reinvigorate the site.

Chat Button™

Founder; I initially started / coded this project in about 2008 to help improve my JavaScript/AJAX and MySQL skills. It is a live-chat program that can be installed on Website with minimal effort. I haven't had as much time as I would like to continue development, but it has naturally grown over the years. It's in use by over 30,000 people per day – processes up to 2000 HTTP requests per second (mostly MySQL queries) and has over 12,000,000 million messages in the system. This has been a very enlightening project regarding infrastructure scalability and code/server optimization (hello TCP socket tuning and "netstat -nat | grep 'TIME_WAIT' –c").

Royal Cigars™

Founder; It was while sitting with an old friend having a nice scotch and a cigar on Lincoln Rd. in Miami Beach that I thought: Hey, I wonder what the cigar industry is like online. I researched it, saw an opportunity, developed a Website, found the contacts to drop-ship the product (thank you Abe at Smoke Inn) and started selling cigars online. It was profitable and finally it was acquired. There are a lot of logistical issues surrounding interstate/international tobacco sales, and I'm not really even a cigar person (I don't smoke), so holding onto the site was kind of silly; It made more sense to sell it to someone that knew the industry and could extract value over a longer time-period.

ElectroKits™

Founder; A much older site that I started as a hobby-electronics site. Again, it was profitable but I was moving out of electronics and into Internet, so I sold the site to one of the most popular hobby electronic circuit vendors at the time.

www.fm-transmitter.com

Founder; About the same time as ElectroKits and goes back to my radio/electronics days. It was a profitable and finally acquired by Broadcast Warehouse ("BW") in the UK. I've always admired BW's product and they are great guys – a pleasure to deal with.

ESL Partyland™

Owner; This site kind of fell into my lap as part of a larger transaction. It was started by Karin Cintron in about 1999. I've owned it for a few years and I have lofty ambitions to build a large online English teaching program via. Web-meeting software (maybe this dovetails with ChatButton!?). I also think it provides a great opportunity to travel; to set up local English schools across the world. The site gets decent traffic. I know absolutely nothing about this industry, which is why I think I am attracted to the challenge of developing it into a real, profitable business.

Latitude / Longitude Plotting tool

This was part of a much larger Local-SEO project many years ago. I came up with the idea of acquiring local phone numbers across the country, dispersed in such as way so that we had at least 1 phone number in every NPA (area code), and multiple NPA's for the large population cities, but with no two phone numbers having an NXX (the middle 3-digit block in the phone number) too geographically close to any other NPA-NXX phone number.

I wrote this tool just to help me visualize the dispersion of the phone numbers using the Google Maps API. As you can imagine, I had to find all the NPA-NXX's exchanges' physical addresses, transcode them into geo-coordinates, and then plot said coordinates on the map. I decided to post this tool online for others to use freely and it seems to be popular, so I'm happy to leave it online as long as it continues to work.

I'm embarrassed because I know I'm forgetting some other cool stuff I've done.

Brief Background

I started at about age 10 with electronic engineering (digital and analog circuit design). My particular area of interest in my youth was radio broadcasting. In addition to having a pirate/illegal radio station broadcasting from my house, I was also designing, building and selling radio broadcast transmitters to other radio stations.

You can even ask my mom – she recently rekindled a fond memory of my youth: The owners of a popular radio station showing up at the house to buy thousands of dollars worth of broadcast equipment before I arrived home from school; I had to throw my school-bag over the back wall before I came into the house so they wouldn't think I was so young. (Who the hell was I kidding!?)

By age 20 I was focusing almost exclusively on Internet / Website stuff, flying around the work to help people build Internet companies. My particular area of strength was/is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Internet Marketing. I founded SEOChat.com and the "Google Dance Tool", which were two of the most popular resources in the Internet Marketing in the early days of the industry (SEOChat is still a very popular site with over 1 million members).

When I sold those companies I decided to become a much more private person; no more speaking at conferences, no more public posting on forums, etc. I've deleted my Facebook and most other social "networks" – I see them as mostly a waste of time, other than as marketing vehicles.

I have a very strong affinity for applied mathematics and physics. I have to admit that I failed in applied mathematics but that didn't stop me from continuing to enjoy it as a topic. I have not yet found a practical application for calculating the coefficient of friction, terminal velocity or the universal gravitational constant – but I can still recall the value of pi to 11 decimal places on-command: 3.14159265359 (I did have a practical application for that in my radio days and I guess it stuck with me, still, 15+ years later).

I develop/program/cut-code in several languages, including PHP, C#, shell script & CLI programming (mostly *NIX), HTML, CSS, JavaScript, MySQL. When I need to learn a new language it generally happens very fast (days to weeks).

Things You Should Know About Me:

I mean, if you have read this far, might as well learn all the gorey details, right?

Contacting Me?

If you've got something interesting, I am open to discussion. But please keep in mind that I deep-dive into projects. It may take me a bit to respond and I can't work on more than a couple of things at any one time or the quality of my work will suffer (multi-tasking is the devil), so I am very selective about what projects I work on, and with whom I work.

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