Bring on the fruit filled birthday cakes, thoughtful geeky gifts, green streamers, and celebratory songs – Intridea turns 4 years old today! That might not seem old, but in light of our humble beginnings, we’re pretty darn proud.
In the Beginning
In the beginning there were two. Two guys that had a vision for a unique and agile Services AND Products company. Dave Naffis, the original co-founder of this great company partnered with a good friend to execute on their vision of building a different kind of web development company. Their values centered around the following:
- Establish healthy, longterm and transparent relationships with clients.
- Fund internal product development with services work.
- Create a culture of quality among their employees and corporate identity.
Not only did they succeed in creating a company that delivered on that vision, they did it in record time and without the aid of VC money or other external investments. Intridea started with two people working long hours at their kitchen tables. They brought on their first employee within a month and from there they flourished into a quality web development shop, employing twelve of the brightest Ruby on Rails developers on the east coast by the end of their first year in 2007. Today, the Intridea team is comprised of nearly 50 talented engineers, designers, QA testers, and partners, spread out all over the world.
There are certain freedoms that a company can take advantage of when they’re self-funded and profitable. One of the most notable perks for us at Intridea is freedom of location. The original founders knew that the best talent didn’t live in one city. So they focused on ways to make their vision work with a distributed team.
Michael Bleigh, an early recruit to the Intridea family gets to work from his home office in Missouri. Our Senior Project Manager Patti Chan gets to work either from her house in San Francisco, or from her co-working space at Parisoma with our new Marketing Manager, Jon Bishop. Adam Bair, employee #7 and now a Partner, was living in NoVA when he was brought on in 2007, but used his freedom of location to move back to Maine where he could raise his kids near family. Dingding Ye, a software architect and the engineer orchestrating most of the recent Presently updates gets to live and work in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China with his wife. Jerry Cheung came to Intridea last year because he needed the flexibility to live and work in California, where his girlfriend was going to grad school. Brent Collier, a senior engineer, is raising his family and working from home in North Carolina. And Jon Kinney, one of our senior engineers was able to breathe a sigh of relief after struggling to find his place in a “cubical laden corporate MS .NET focused world.” He says that “being able to hack on Ruby all day from the comfort of my own home has increased my quality of life considerably.”
The opportunity to work where you want to live has translated into a great quality of life for many Intrideans. But Intridea’s leadership wanted to make sure that their team felt valued in their contributions and supported in their creative endeavors. So as the company grew from 2-50 in four years, we adapted expeditiously. It was determined that every Intridean would receive a new Macbook when they came on board, and would be eligible for hardware upgrades every two years thereafter. Each employee also enjoys the benefit of an annual Amazon Prime subscription and expenses-paid for a relevant conference each year. During the holiday season, most DC-MD-VA based Intrideans gather together for a big dinner. But those of us that are remote are not forgotten:
Because Intridea came into the web development field in 2007 when Rails was just starting to gain traction in the U.S., they wanted to make sure they supported the Ruby language, the Rails framework, and the community surrounding it. Doing so ensured that we (along with other companies) would be able to thrive in the web development space, and that people would continue learning and using the language in the business world. To that end, we began sponsoring regional and national conferences, local user groups, and hackathons. We still sponsor those events, and we also support our developers in contributing to open source. We have a long list of contributions on our Github page, and we recently started a new program called SparkTime – an initiative to give employees 10 hours a week to work on a project that’s meaningful to them. Many of these projects will be open sourced as well.
Creation out of Necessity
Because we do things a bit differently at Intridea, we encountered a few specific needs along the way. Out of those needs, some of our greatest product ideas were born, including Presently, our award-winning enterprise microblogging platform. With the popularity of microblogging, the requisite of real-time communication, and the need for a functional collaboration tool, our developers thought “Twitter for the enterprise”, even before popular implementations like Yammer were introduced. We use Presently everyday at Intridea. It’s our main solution for company-wide communication and collaboration.
In a very short time, one small company with a ton of talent has produced some amazing applications. Last year we launched Tradui, a Creole-English translation app in the wake of the Haitian earthquake crisis to empower aid workers in that region. Shortly afterward, we launched Oil Reporter as a tool to track sightings of oil along the coast in response to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Our mobile team launched Car Finder, a popular augmented reality app for locating where you parked your car. And most recently we’ve been redesigning several existing products like MediaPlug and SocialSpring to be included in an upcoming launch of new enterprise products, aimed to offer complete solutions for the growing needs of companies in today’s fast-paced world.
It’s the Heart The Matters
Where Intridea has really shined in the last four years is in the development of relationships with our long list of clients. From day one we were determined to do business the right way, and our clients can tell the difference. We’ve worked with companies of every size, and no matter how big or small their ideas or needs were, we gave them each our focus, our best talent, and our respect. We approach each project with servility and an open mind, ready to really listen to the client so we can give them exactly what they need. Recently we’ve worked with DealPop, Safeway and HowAboutWe to deliver custom scalable web applications inline with their vision and industry needs.
We’d like to thank the Academy
It hasn’t been all peaches and cream. Getting to our fourth birthday without injections of capital from investors, while maintaining our ideals and principles wasn’t an easy task. We worked through slow periods of growth, followed by rapid explosions of growth which led to growing pains and some confusion about our direction. We encountered fierce competition, even slander at times, but we remained humble and honest. And today, on our birthday, we remember and celebrate all of those experiences that helped to shape us into the company we are today. We’re working on internal products more than ever before, we’re delivering powerful solutions to our clients, and our employees enjoy a fairly autonomous working environment at a company that understands the value of quality, craftsmanship and hard work.
So we raise our laptops today to ourselves. Four years might not seem like much. But in startup years, that’s like – a hundred years. Thanks to our clients for working with us, our team for building our reputation for excellence, and the entire community of Rails developers that also value quality code and craftsmanship and have helped to sustain the Rails ecosystem.