This month, we take a look at three of Columbia’s businesses – QuarkWorks, Lawn Cheers, and Family First Chiropractic.
QuarkWorks began as a dream of three MU grad school students — Bryan Pratte and his two friends Brett and Brandon. “We were interested in building something,” Bryan says. They began making video games, but after some time, found their way into building apps for Silicon Valley startups. About nine years ago, they created QuarkWorks — a company that started out of the love for building new things. Currently, it helps businesses build better software.
QuarkWorks has helped build apps for companies like Roots N Blues, Eventbrite, Reddit, and Houseparty. By working alongside clients, it helps grow, accelerate, and scale businesses with its services. In the future, QuarkWorks hopes to take everything it has learned and build its own product. At the end of the day, “We really love building things,” says Bryan. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
A year ago, Joan Smith created Lawn Cheers — a local company producing hand-made yard signs in a hot garage. “I’m retired from the university,” she says. “I’ve always been a ‘crafter’ — I used to make yard signs for Christmas.”
After visiting a group in Arkansas creating similar signs, Joan fell in love with the idea. Now, she makes whimsical, unique yard signs as a business: creating them, dropping them off, and picking them up.
Joan makes signs for all occasions — birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, etc. “I’m hoping people will see our signs and appreciate them for their uniqueness and the hard work behind them,” she says. Lawn Cheers is fairly new and still building itself up, but Joan would love to chat about ideas for signs with anyone. “We’d love to bring joy to the world one yard at a time,” she says.
Family First Chiropractic
In 2010, Kelli Winarski and her husband, David, started Family First Chiropractic. After graduating from chiropractic school together, they found they could best serve the community by starting a husband-and-wife practice. “Columbia is a great place — it’s the best of both worlds. It’s big enough to have entertainment, but it has a small-town feel,” Kelli says. Thus, this family practice began in the heart of Missouri.
“People don’t come for pain, they come to get their life back,” says Kelli. If the pain someone is experiencing keeps them from doing something important, Family First wants to help. At Family First Chiropractic, “We adjust kiddos and whole families,” she says. For the future, they’re working on settling into their new office space, saving money, and growing to add more doctors. Kelli says it all: “We want to come together to create a better community.”