CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Megan Bullock and Josh Dodd came home to Charleston for visits during college, they always talked about working on design and development projects together.
But the 2004 George Washington High School graduates didn't start working together until after college when a mutual friend encouraged them to have lunch together and talk seriously about their work.
"It was 2008 and there weren't a lot of jobs on the scene," Bullock said. "We saw a lot of opportunity in Charleston."
Today the two have settled into a steady flow of projects that has taken their company, MESH, beyond the Mountain State and the nation's borders as it continues to grow.
Bullock attended the Rhode Island School of Design. Dodd received his computer science degree from West Virginia University. Neither had a business background but the two launched MESH Design and Development on Charleston's West Side and have not slowed down since.
In the beginning they picked up small projects here and there. A lot of local small Charleston businesses helped kick start their efforts, they recalled.
Dodd was still working a job in Morgantown while working on projects with Bullock via email and Skype. Bullock had just returned home to Charleston after working aboard in India.
After a six-months of projects they felt like they could move forward.
"We realized we worked pretty well together and we made it a reality," Dodd recalled of starting the company. "I decided to move back here [to Charleston] and we got the ball rolling."
The two could learn well from each other, they said.
"It seemed like there was an opening in the market for a developer who came from a technology background and came from a design background to work together," Bullock said.
One of MESH's goals is helping people communicate their best assets in more efficient, relatable ways. Bullock and Dodd once heard the founder of SNOOK Design tell a conference gathering that, "when it's all said and done, improved quality of life is the end goal."
The ethos resonates with them today.
"Even though we both love design and technology, they are really just tools that help us improve quality of life for both the clients and communities we work with," Bullock said.
Their start up model was refreshingly simple. Buy business cards. Buy a domain name. And buy a business license.
The cost wasn't bad at $500 either. They didn't want to take out any loans for the business. They had laptops from college to use and traded labor for rent at their first office space.
"We were sanding floors during the day and talking to people about our company at night," Dodd said.
The two renovated the 1920's style office building on Washington Street West. Dodd was recognized for the effort by the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia with a 2011 honorable mention for rehabilitation of a historic space in a redeveloping community. He also used part of the renovated space as a flat to live in.
"The big thing for us was convincing people that we were here to stay and that we were serious even though we were young and 23 years old," Bullock said.
A big part of MESH's approach to business is about understanding clients better than they may understand themselves. It's about taking the time to know them inside and out, what their best assets are, what a client is doing different than competitors and making them feel apart of it all, Dodd said.
"It's all about relationships," Bullock said. "We have learned so much from the people that we've worked with. Every project we work on we get to learn about a new industry."
MESH offers web design and development services, campaign development, branding and identity design, photography and copy writing services to clients.