Local entrepreneur opens fund in broader move to give back
The challenges of 2020 might have made for a difficult first year in business for most companies, but Johnstown-based Webify has found a way to make it work.
In fact, they’ve grown more than anticipated, had the opportunity to help other local companies navigate an uncertain year, and they’re hoping to give back to the community—both through a fund at Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and with upcoming projects focused on nurturing young talent.
Andy Barrows, Webify founder, moved from eastern Pennsylvania to Johnstown about five years ago after he spotted a house for sale online. He’d never been to the area before, but found it to be charming and full of promise. His company, a web design and app development agency, launched last January, with an office in the Johnstown Innovation Center Downtown.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I love the area. I love what it stands for. It’s friendly. Everybody has that western Pennsylvania mentality, where they reach out to help.”
Andy embraced that same mentality and worked quickly to help local companies in the service industry over the past year, creating web platforms for them to continue to serve customers, without the hefty cost that can come with existing delivery services.
“We’ve helped a lot of restaurants, locally and nationally, recover,” he said. “It’s been a blessing to be able to help them keep their family legacies alive.”
He also made the decision to establish the Webify Community Benefits Fund at CFA, which he hopes to use to help area young people, and he is working on an ambitious endeavor with Seth Mason, who founded The Esport Company. Together, they aim to remodel and re-imagine a 16,000-square-foot space along Franklin Street as an educational initiative. It would include a co-working space and café, with a stage for entertainment and events, and they would work with budding entrepreneurs, including high school students, and mentor them toward achieving their goals.
“I want to invest in their future,” he said. “That’s how this came to fruition. We hope to take a few young individuals—from middle school to recent high school graduates—and help them create a career plan, figure out their next steps and potentially use the fund to help support their education going forward. That’s our ultimate goal: to offer scholarships for part or full tuition to ensure they have the means to reach for the stars and do what they need to do.”
The company, which has eight employees in Johnstown, already offers full tuition reimbursement to employees, and they’ve been steadily adding to their list of services.
“Seth and I got together and, in talking, realized that our inspiration, beliefs, and vision are exactly the same,” Andy said. “We want the same things for downtown, for Johnstown.”