Switchbox Turns Six! Joel Comments on The Big Day!


How did Switchbox get started?

Actually it started in my home office on my coffee table.  I decided there was a huge need for software developers that actually understood what web designers needed so I took a random job from a friend of a friend and launch our first public site in 2004.  It turned out that if you did what you said you would do, did it when you promised, and actually answered the phone when someone called you could be a wildly successful IT company.  It was a crazy first couple of years but we became a real company (instead of me working in shorts and flip flops out of my house) in 2006.

What is the biggest difference between where the company is right now and where it was when you first started up?

Same success formula as above but now we have better coffee and more nerf guns.

What excites you most about this company?

The people we have here.  I still have no idea why anyone would be willing to work with a crazy guy like me but they show up to work everyday (literally everyday).  When you have people like that who work here and the kinds of awesome clients/friends we’ve made over the years you can’t help but be excited about what is coming.  We keep pushing the limits that we set for ourselves and keep find out it’s not as hard as we thought.  We also have a lot of clients who put a huge amount of trust in us which is scary and encouraging at the same time.  It constantly makes us better.

How much has the company grown over the years?

In January of 2008 I was the only employee along with Ninja but the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services doesn’t recognize him as a real employee) and I moved into our office in Dublin with the help of my wife, parents and in laws.  Eric started the next month and in the last 4.5 years we’ve grown to 17 of us.

What do you like about working here?

Everything except that I’m not a developer any more.  That is where my true inner nerd still wants to be.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned while building this company from the ground up?

Success lies in doing the simple things that everyone else believes are hard because they have never tried and my second never stop reading.

Where do you see Switchbox going?

I think we are going to keep growing but in a more steady way over the next few years.  I’m not sure if we will want to grow past 50 or so because culturally that gets really hard to do while staying true to what we want to be to ourselves and our clients.  I’ll be happy to do it so long as we keep the small company feel and keep our ability to impress with the one on one relationship between developers and clients.

Final thoughts?

When I moved into our first office I saved a fortune from my Chinese takeout fortune cookie that says “Do not give up, the beginning is always the hardest.”  When I first read that I thought it meant that after a while work at Switchbox would get easier, now I realize that the hardest part of business is always what comes next month because we’ve never done it before.  I’ve also found out that doing what you’ve never done before is often the most rewarding.