Arts & Culture

Tied up in knots: Former sailor turns rope skills into website, iPhone app

Just a few years ago, Alan Grogono didn't know much about knots. Now, he's become a multimedia knot-tying superstar ... if there is such a thing.

Animated Knots by Grog registers 13,000 visitors a day, drawing in visitors worldwide for illustrated step-by-step instructions on everything from a Sheet Bend to a Trucker's Hitch. Type "knots" in Google and Grogono's site is the first that pops up.

The Hilton Head Island resident started a page on his family's website devoted to a few knot-tying instructions he picked up from his sailing days. But the knot page started getting traffic on its own. He spun it off into its own site, researching just about every type of knot imaginable. Within the past two years, Animated Knots has turned into a small business venture, selling CD-ROMs to visitors. An app for Animated Knots was recently released for the iPhone.

Grog, as he's known to friends and family, explains how he got tangled up in the knot business.

Question. When did you think the site could turn into a business?

Answer. It was probably when people bombarded me with questions about putting the program on a disk. I didn't know what to do at first, but I started working with my sons. They said we could do this and sell it on a CD-ROM. It took off from there. We've now placed advertising on the site, and it's started generating money.

Q. How did you get into the iPhone app?

A. It's from my two sons. We work as a team. When they saw the iPhone doing well and the growth of traffic to the site, they put two and two together. Initially it went well. We had a lot of sales, and then we realized the image quality wasn't good enough. So we re-photographed every knot.

Q. How popular is the site?

A. We're ranked as the 36,961st most trafficked site in the country. That doesn't sound that impressive. But I thought it was interesting for our little website.

Q. How many knots do you have on the site?

A. There's over 100 animations now. We're working on a new project. We're making a website devoted to folding napkins for place settings and such. When you look at the site, it'll be similar to the knot site, where there's picture-by-picture napkins.

Q. Good way to clear your head of knots, I suppose.

A. I've got plenty of other ideas. But we've made ourselves plenty busy with just this.

Q. Are you sick of knots?

A. I'm still into it. But I'm more involved in putting the website together. We're putting videos on YouTube. Organizing and publishing those is lots and lots of work.


Animated Knots by Grog