Intridea Insider: Jonathan Nelson

Inspired by his grandpa from a young age to be the best he can be, Jonathan is a true innovator; his mind is always alight with new ideas and ways to execute on them. He brings his passion for innovation to Intridea as our Product Manager. Meet Jonathan Nelson, in this week’s Intridea Insider.

Jonathan brings fire, optimism and enthusiasm to the team: three vital ingredients that not only help to keep the rest of us inspired, but also make him astoundingly adept at marketing, business development, product design and development, and managing ideas and innovation. He does a little of everything, (ok, a lot of everything) and never seems to tire. His passion to be the best he can be is always driving him to work harder, for the benefit of us all.

Lately, Jonathan has been working on our enterprise microblogging solution, Presently. He has also been busy with Oil Reporter, a mobile app that gives people in the affected areas of the oil spill a way to create data reports (including geo-tagged photos and videos) of what they’re seeing. All the data is available to the public and urgent reports are sent to CrisisCommons, who then shares the data with organizations and agencies that are dedicated to the cleanup effort.

While Jonathan is busy designing and developing products, he says he’s also looking for ways to “increase exposure and drive business through various existing and new channels.” Before becoming an Intridean, he spent many years working for high-profile companies like Shopzilla, and Primedia.

In fact, he first learned about Ruby while he was working at Shopzilla: “I was charged with coming up with, leading and developing technologies to drive more traffic to their site.” Shopzilla was using Perl to run their systems. Jonathan had been hearing a lot about Ruby at the time from the tech community in California, and he decided to teach himself Ruby; “I dove right into it. It was love at first sight. I was so amazed that I couldn’t stop telling and pleading with my engineer friends at Shopzilla to try it out.” Not only did he get Shopzilla to start using Ruby, but when he later went to work with Primedia, he also convinced them to switch to Ruby from .NET.

Jonathan left Shopzilla to join Primedia after proposing to his (then) girlfriend, Ashley; she lived in Georgia and was still in college, so he left his 400 sq ft apartment on West Sunset Blvd and traded in the energetic startup lifestyle for an equally awesome job at Primedia and joined Ashley in Buford, Georgia.

Although he spent many years in business development and strategy for tech companies, Jonathan always loved programming: “I enjoy creating new things, and making my ideas become a reality.” So eventually, the desire to code overcame him and he left Primedia to create his own app for Twitter, called TwitterMass. “The idea was simple, really. Create LinkedIn type functionality, but for Twitter.” He knew he was taking a leap of faith, but argues, “I knew if I didn’t do it now, I never would.” He was able to market the application and got it running virally. TwitterMass had nearly 10k users in the first three months. The success of that app inspired him to create another app, Tweet Blocker, and he sold both applications before joining the Intridea team.

As skilled as he is at marketing, strategy, product design, development, and innovation, Jonathan wasn’t supposed to be a developer or Product Manager at all. After finishing high school in Seattle, he joined the Air Force, with the intention of flying fighters and then retiring to fly private or commercial jets. His career path changed after 9/11; “I was in the Air National Guard when 9/11 happened, and due to training orders being changed, I had a lot of flexibility with my schedule; so I decided to direct my energy toward programming and other tech-related passions.” During his high-school years, he was preoccupied with dissecting and then recreating internet sites that he visited frequently, in an effort to understand how sites were built and how the web worked. “When I got back in the swing of things (after 9/11) I couldn’t stop reading and learning. I learned Perl, JavaScript, HTML and CSS, and even some PHP.”

Aside from a few CS classes, Jonathan taught himself everything he knows. As a kid he had even taught himself to play drums and piano. That’s just the kind of guy he is. When he feels inspired to do something, he makes it happen and nothing stands in his way. He says that the ideas of Napoleon Hill, as expressed in his book, “Think and Grow Rich”, helped to teach him tried and true methods to achieving success.

Jonathan balances his work life with a strong family life and spiritual life. He spends lots of time with his wife, Ashley, whom he praises for her incredible photography, and their two adorable sons, Noah and Caleb. “Being a Dad is the best thing ever. It helps me to keep pushing myself. I feel like I have so much work to do, because I want to leave a legacy with my kids that continues even when I’m gone. I want to instill good character and a thirst for knowledge in them.”

He enjoys listening to classical and jazz music in his office while he works, and makes a point to go to concerts in the Summer. He goes to comedy shows when the opportunity arises, and even had some stage time at a Dane Cook show. He works hard (there is even a bed in his office for the nights that he works late) and then balances that by playing hard too.

Jonathan brings genuine ingenuity and vitality to our team. He loves working, and he’s not afraid to push himself. We’re grateful to have him on board with us, and it seems that he likes us too; “I just have this gut feeling about Intridea. It’s the best company I’ve ever worked for. The ability to work from home means that I get to give my son a hug and kiss when I come upstairs for coffee during the day. That’s priceless.”