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24 Mar / Why We Founded Meshfrog…

Author: Todd Boppell
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Peter and I founded Meshfrog Inc, on January 2, 2012.  We had only been discussing the possibility for a couple of months prior, but we had worked together for more than five years at Nexa Technologies previously (see our bios here) and we certainly knew each others’ strengths and talents.  So the key issue for us was not in knowing or trusting one another, as it might be for many a new partnership, but in determining whether there was a shared vision for a new organization that we could both really embrace.

As we started to discuss an actual vision for the company, and long before we chose a name or filed any paperwork, some important themes emerged:

  • We were both committed to building something we could be proud of – both at the software and technical level, and at the organizational and cultural level.  We see these as inextricably linked – an amazing, creative, and energized organization will build products that are filled with that same energy and talent.  Conversely, an organization that allows mediocre products to represent it has a really hard time remaining a fun, exciting, or interesting organization because the products, and the customer responses to them, take a real toll on the staff and undermine any message of excellence or vision that management is trying to convey.
  • Peter and I both love to solve problems and bring our unique perspectives, insights, and experiences to those solutions.  There is an interesting characteristic that we share in this arena, and it is one I have personally never seen discussed in HR or Management writings – I call it “integrated breadth”.  I have interviewed many candidates for various jobs, many of those jobs being technical to some extent, and the normal candidate in a technical position for the last 20 years has usually had a pretty active resume – with a fair number of jobs that last maybe 1 to 3 years being very common.  There is a huge difference though, in my opinion, between those who seem to truly integrate what they learn and experience in every position, no matter how different each role or company or industry may be, versus those who do not seem to make the connections or the quantitative leaps and instead seem sadly ignorant to the bigger picture when looking back at the mosaic of their career experiences.  Peter and I see Meshfrog as both an outcome of our ability to really understand and integrate the very diverse companies and verticals we have worked in, and the array of complex issues we have faced, as well as a new classroom where we can continue to expand the breadth that we have built and integrated so far.
  • The third commonality that emerged, and that was so critical in our decision to form a partnership, was the way that both of us felt so strongly about setting clear intentions for Meshfrog as a company, and ensuring that those intentions would always be in complete alignment with our personal priorities and ethics.  This leads to lots of really interesting behaviors and discussions.  We really do “sweat the small stuff” currently because we know that every decision is creating precedent and is contributing to organizational momentum in certain directions, while decreasing momentum in other directions.  In many ways we are really bringing self-awareness to this process, and in so doing we are trying to ensure that we build a self-aware organization – one that knows what it stands for and why, and is not afraid to look hard at itself to ensure that great solutions and difficult truths are always given adequate attention as they emerge.  This is a huge deal to us because we have both worked at companies where the culture allowed truth to suffer at the expense of politics, or where people were treated in ways that were really wrong and shortsighted but were justified by some claim of “its not my fault”.

The journey to found and build a new company is many things, and these themes and challenges are important to us as take the early steps in this journey.  Only time will tell if they remain important, and if we are successful in honoring them and keeping our bearings.

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