Web wizard-- Attorney runs several online businesses


By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Attorney Philip C. Curtis was an entrepreneur at an early age, selling pencils and candy in grade school at highly profitable margins.

Now he runs three online businesses--HolidayLEDs.com, ledchristmaslights.com and FidoDogTreats.com--in addition to a busy law practice in Jackson, Mich. He plans to develop two other sites, one for selling other types of LED lighting and the second for selling doll clothing.

It must be in the genes--his father attorney Philip J. Curtis, recently won an Entrepreneurial Vision award from the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

The apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Throughout law school and during his initial years in private practice, Curtis was constantly mulling over entrepreneurial ventures, with a particular eye to technology and online marketing.

"As with most business people I attempted a few businesses and failed before I had my first success with HolidayLEDs.com," he says.

An early idea, which died on the vine, was a Web-based collection management solution for collections attorneys.

"I still like that idea and now I have the experience to make it work but not enough time," he says.

His second attempt, which never really went further than a concept, was selling imported art and clothing from Peru. Third time's a charm, as the saying goes.

In 2007, Curtis met two people who eventually became his partners in HolidayLEDs.com.

"Each had a lot of experience and skills in e-commerce, web development, and other things I didn't have a lot of experience with," Curtis says. "We became friends and decided to start a company.

"We didn't have a specific product we wanted to sell but were looking for something that was in a relatively new market, had high demand, and good profit margins."

That something turned out to be LED Christmas lights. One of the partners saw a display of these at Sam's Club, and when he returned the next day to buy some, found they were already sold out.

The light bulb--or in this case, the LED Christmas light--in their brains went off.

"We did a little further research and settled on selling LED Christmas lights," Curtis says.

The company started in August 2007 and by Christmas had sold about 5,000 sets of lights.

HolidayLED's mission is to be the leading online retailer and information source for energy-efficient commercial and residential LED lighting. Products, which are UL listed and Energy Star qualified, are available for Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, weddings, parties and other festive occasions.

Curtis' two partners, Tim Hill and Mike O'Conner moved on to start their own company, CommerceGuys.com, also located in Jackson, but they continue to do all of Curtis' Web development work.

"HolidayLEDs.com has turned out to be a great business but as you can imagine, it's very seasonal," Curtis says. "My long term goal is to develop a diverse portfolio of e-commerce sites."

FidoDogTreats.com, which Curtis started with two friends he met as an undergraduate at Western Michigan University, was the second step towards that goal, since pet products are non-seasonal, and there is a huge market for them. The company offers hundreds of varieties of highest quality dog treats, dog bones, dog foods and other products for canine companions, all independently reviewed and tested by veterinarians and dog nutrition specialists

"Fido is just getting off the ground but we're doing much better than we imagined we would be at this point," Curtis says.

He juggles his online ventures with his Jackson law practice, P. Curtis & Associates, specializing in immigration law.

"The good thing about my law practice is that I can easily ramp it up or down depending on how busy I am with my other businesses," he says. "If I don't have a lot of time to take on new cases, I simply do less marketing and am more selective about the cases I take.

"It's also a bit easier to manage than with other types of law practices since nearly all of the work can be done remotely and the type of immigration law I practice does not require me to appear in court. I still have 30 to 40 open cases at any given time and plan on doing more this year. I really enjoy practicing immigration law so I like to dedicate a fair amount of time to my law practice."

Meet Philip C. Curtis

P. Curtis & Associates in Jackson is a boutique law firm specializing in immigration and naturalization law.

Philip C. Curtis became interested in immigration law when he married a Peruvian national while still in law school. Having gone through the immigration process with his wife, he understands the process from a client's prospective. Since graduating from the University of California-Berkeley (Boalt Hall School of Law) in 2002, Curtis has focused his practiced entirely on immigration law.

He specializes in U.S. citizens marrying foreign nationals; fiancé visas; applications for U.S. citizenship; lawful permanent residency for relatives of U.S. citizens; employment visas for Canadian and Mexican nationals; visas for athletes, artists, musicians, and other performing artists; and visas for foreign investors.

Published: Fri, Mar 19, 2010


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