Back in 2006 when I was scouring Philadelphia for smart, interesting, creative people to eventually become a part of Indy Hall, one of the first people I met was Chris Nagele. Chris was running Wildbit, a software design and development consultancy that cared immensely about its craft, and at the time was the only person from the team in Philadelphia besides his girlfriend, Natalie. We quickly became friends and supporters of each others’ work, and I can remember when Wildbit launched it’s now very popular version control hosting system Beanstalk as “Project Alpha” just a month before we opened the doors to Indy Hall.
When Natalie joined Chris full time at Wildbit, they decided to officially become members of Indy Hall and proudly made our coworking space Wildbit’s headquarters.
I got to work with a few of Wildbit’s other team members over the coming years – which wouldn’t be surprising if you didn’t know that the team was spread across the globe. Chris ran (and still runs) one of the most talented virtual teams I’ve ever seen, having developed his own practices for recruiting a team and building products together in spite of up to 12 hour time differences. While they were still doing design consulting, I even got to hire them for a couple of projects and worked closer with some of the remote team members.
When Chris and Natalie got married and started their family they chose to move their office back home, but remained devoted supporters of Indy Hall. In particular, when we moved into our new office in 2009, Natalie collaborated with Dana on much of the early interior design touches that made the new space much more vibrant and friendly. Chris and Natalie’s daily participation waned with the birth of their daughter, but their support of me and of Indy Hall never wavered.
It was near the end of 2010 that an unexpected conversation led to an exciting proposition: Chris and Natalie wanted me to join Wildbit as their first Philadelphia team member. I took on a proactive communication role – spending time with our customers and partners outside of the standard support channels, getting to know our customers and our market better.
In just over a year since joining, we added 4 more amazing Philadelphia team members and moved the local team into a beautiful office on the 7th floor of the same building as Indy Hall. I got to go on two team retreats to Spain to spend time with my international league of coworkers. I challenged and changed some perceptions and habits of the team, and had some of my own challenged and changed as well, in all cases to our mutual benefit. I interacted with some of the best customers on the planet, collaborated on launching features and marketing efforts with a team that feels like a family, and together we learned and applied our efforts to growing two products – Beanstalk and Postmark – that the entire team is proud to provide. And most recently, we launched a mentorship community and program for bootstrapped ventures with a roster of product founders that I’m very proud to call my friends.
One of the challenges of the role that we knew from the start was that I would not be able to be full time – my responsibilities to Indy Hall and other projects/partners were important to me, and thankfully Chris and Natalie wanted me to be able to continue with those efforts. The fact is that I’m rarely, if ever, only working on one thing at a time and while it looks manic and chaotic from the outside (which sometimes it is), the value I’ve always found has been in my ability to apply lessons from one project to the benefit of another. That cross-pollination is ever-present in my work, and it’s a big part of why I choose to work the way I work. I really do love it that way.
The unfortunate side effect of that choice, though, is that there’s little room for permanence. With the decision to grow Indy Hall comes the difficult decision to end my time on the Wildbit team. It goes without saying that there’s been nothing but support and love from the Wildbit team as we made the decision for me to transition away from my daily role on the team. We will continue collaborating on ThinkStrapped, though, and I’m looking forward to meeting the founders and teams of the 10 companies we recruit early this summer.
The last 18 months together were really only a concentrated exposure to what I’ve seen Chris, Natalie, and the team accomplish since meeting them in 2006, so I’m excited to see what lies ahead for Wildbit – I’m 100% certain that it’s nothing short of amazing for the team and customers alike. It’s difficult to think about not being a part of that future. I remain a loyal fan and supporter of Wildbit, their products, and perhaps most importantly their customers, many of whom I’ve forged relationships with over the last year and a half.
At the same time, Indy Hall is exploding with potential of its own and I’m beyond excited to be turning the majority of my attention to it for the first time in over 2 years. The “expansion” ahead includes much more than just adding a few thousand square feet to our footprint and a bunch of great new community members to our roster.
So it’s not exactly a goodbye to Wildbit and crew, but instead turning the page to a new chapter for all of us to begin writing.
Love and thanks to Chris, Natalie, Ilya, Eugene, Igor, Milan, Dima, Oren, Tema, Dana, JP, and Russ; and to all of Wildbit’s customers and partners I got to know and appreciate – you know who you are.
Wildbit, I think I love you.
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