10 years ago today John, Scott and I made Imulus a reality.
This wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, but rather the culmination of the dotcom collapse and the closing of the Refinery Interactive office in Boulder. We learned many lessons from Refinery that we subsumed and adapted into Imulus. The big ones are easy to remember for me because they’ve become principles by which we run Imulus.
1. Have a strong cash reserve. Refinery didn’t, and it ultimately cost them their company when it was acquired by Grey Interactive. We strive to have several months cash on hand so we can more easily navigate the pitfalls ahead.
2. Bigger isn’t always better. To be honest, we’ve struggled with this but I know we are finally on the right path. At Refinery we took on some massive brands with the assumption that these brands would make us more profitable and more happy. That wasn’t the case. Ultimately, the massive brands allowed Refinery to grow quickly, but Refinery became too dependent on the revenue. At one point, a single client paid the bills for a 160+ person company. Way too risky!
3. Companies can thrive on honesty and transparency. From day one, we’ve always been open about our books, goals and decision-making processes. I was happily working at Refinery under the assumption that I had lots of job security. Many years later, I found that wasn’t true. At times, Refinery had less than a few weeks of funds in the bank to cover payroll. By contrast, everyone at Imulus knows where the company stands. Job security isn’t an issue here.
4. Culture isn’t manufactured; it needs to be cultivated. It grows organically and the slightest change in the chemistry can drastically alter the feel and productivity of an office. For me, this has meant listening more to my team and trusting my gut. My gut rarely turns me down the wrong path.
5. Small teams are more fun. We have no desire to turn Imulus into a corporate warehouse of uninspired individuals. Small teams rely on each other, trust each other and hold each other accountable. At times things can be chaotic, but when you have a tight-knit team that trusts in each other, you get through it
When we set out to start Imulus we had a few hopes. I wouldn’t call them goals. We wanted to cap our size at about 25 people. We thought we’d have 2 or more offices by 2012, and we thought our revenue numbers would have been higher. What entrepreneur doesn’t think that?
The last 10 years has been all about the people. We’ve built a decent company with a highly-talented team.
Stephanie has guided this ship and kept us true to our principles. Clients and our team worship her, and she has never let us down. Truly there is nothing she can’t do, and I know we are very fortunate to have her.
Aida was employee numero uno and has been with us for nearly 9 years. That’s a loyalty that’s unmatched at most businesses.
At first I wasn’t crazy about Bruce. He came off a bit cocky and edgy. Over time, I learned this is high-self confidence, and rightfully so. Bruce has become invaluable to Imulus. His passion and abilities to articulate have pushed us to make some critical decisions that have really benefited the company.
Kat was our first intern. I still remember looking at her resume when she applied. There was almost no experience in designing for the web, yet Scott and I both thought she had amazing potential. Five years later, she hasn’t let us down yet. She has a great work ethic, especially when we are in a pinch.
Taylor was intern number two and the first developer that I personally didn’t train. Early on, Bruce and Taylor collaborated together to make our development team one of the best in the nation; I truly believe that. They might be a small team, but I’d put them against any development team out there.
On a daily basis, I’m still amazed by Bryce. He is honestly one of the sharpest minds I have ever worked with. He immediately can grasp complex coding problems and find new ways to speed up the code or enhance the functionality. I wish I had just 10% of his brain power.
Casey is our pitbull. I have never met anyone more eager to “get it done” than Casey. He exemplifies the “can-do” attitude and backs it up with quality workmanship. If Casey was a mountain climber, he’d cut the tags off his clothing to reduce the extra “weight.” He’s that focused on his craft.
Erik breaks the conventions typically applied to programmers. He can manage a project and the client’s needs on his own. He has a healthy balance of life / work and is incredibly eager to learn. He never complains. When we hired Erik, his background was in desktop software. Once hired, Erik immersed himself in learning how we work and he hasn’t stopped growing since.
Tom is our Mr. Umbraco. Few can hold a candle to Tom’s ability to develop for the Umbraco platform. Tom is part of the core team of contributors that have made Umbraco an international success. We are fortunate to have him on our team.
Amy, Dillion, Ellen and Jamie are all new Imulus team members and have all immediately contributed to Imulus’ success already. I expect great things to come.
Then there are Scott and John, my co-founders. To say they’ve been patient with me is an understatement. I’m really not sure where Imulus would be today without them. Scott has likely saved Imulus from multiple missteps and John has always been the workhorse that’s delivered on promises I’ve made to clients.
I’m not certain what Imulus’ next year looks like, let alone the next 10. However, I can say with confidence that I’ve never been more inspired by Imulus’ potential than I am today. 2013 will start our 11th year in business. If the last 10 years have been about the people, the next 10 years are going to be about the company.
We’re building something pretty special in the services industry. Stay tuned.