NAPLES – With its bright walls and even brighter ideas, 4What Interactive got a chance to show itself off to community leaders Thursday.
The sneak peak of the “home-grown” company, whose founders include a couple of Neapolitans, was the first of six tours that will be offered to leading edge companies as part of a new initiative called Project Innovation.
The project, launched by the Economic Development Council of Collier County at the end of last year, is bringing in state and national experts to help shape a new blueprint for economic development. Besides the public tours of innovative companies, such as 4What Interactive, there are radio
shows and podcasts with local innovative thinkers.
Standing up on stairs leading to the second floor of the 4What’s headquarters office in North Naples, Bill O’Neill, the EDC’s volunteer chairman, looked out over a crowd of dozens of business and community leaders and described the company as a “living example of innovation” in Collier County.
“This is an exciting example of what can be done,” he said later while using the company’s bright green studio to make his own video about Project Innovation.
4What, specializing in flash production, Web video and creative services, offered all visitors the chance to make a free video for use as a marketing and sales tool. Joyce Brown, sales and marketing director for O3zone Computers Inc. in Naples, which repairs and builds computers, took the offer, making a video to welcome customers to her company’s Web site. She said she’d see if her boss would let her put it up after reading smoothly through her self-made lines as she watched a teleprompter spit out her words.
“It’s just really a fun thing to do,” Brown said.
She was glad to be a part of the tour.
“We’re a technical company,” she said. “It was great to visit a technical company.”
The award-winning 4What Interactive was founded in 1995. Two of its owners, Jim Cossetta and Wade Mastro, grew up in Naples and have known each other since the seventh grade. The third owner is Reid Atwood, whom Cossetta met while working for the NCH Health Care System after graduating from the University of Georgia
and returning to Naples.
You might wonder where the company gets its unusual name.
“It was 2 a.m. We asked a waitress, ‘What should we call our company?’ She said ‘for what,'” Cossetta explained.
The company’s more well-known and larger clients include Discover, the financial services company, Citrix, an international software company, Marsh USA, the world’s largest commercial insurance company, and Cisco, a leading supplier of networking equipment for the Internet.
For Cisco, 4What developed a training program for its sophisticated IP phones, which includes features such as e-mail and document transfer. The phones are on display at 4What’s headquarters off Old 41 Road near the Lee-Collier County line.
The company has developed Web sites for many of the area’s builders and for Ave Maria University and Southwest Florida International Airport.
“We do a little bit of everything,”
Cossetta said. “We help people communicate their message.”
The company also got to show of its less serious side during the tour. In it’s Zen room, which includes a calming rock fountain, employees find time to relax between projects. Guitar Hero is set up in another area for employees to have a little fun during breaks.
With the community tour, Cossetta hopes to get more clients closer to home.
“We’ve been doing so much work out of state and we want to do more work with local companies,” he said.
By LAURA LAYDEN
Naples Daily News