Ryan joined The Pioneer Collective in July 2015 along with the rest of the team at Seattle born startup, ClipCard. For this week's member spotlight, we asked him some questions about the company and what makes him tick.
Tell us a little bit about ClipCard.
ClipCard gives you quick, contextual access to your stuff from across your apps — Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, etc — wherever you’re working. ClipCard is for tech and creative teams who are relying on dozens of apps and cloud services to do their jobs. We make it easy to narrow in on a specific project, topic, client, or place and see a wide range of related things like documents, tasks, issues, and contacts — without hunting through dozens of browser tabs, folders, or apps. We’re shortening the distance between you and your stuff.
What is your role within the company?
Officially, I lead the Product Team. But as one of only a few non-engineers on a small team, that means I focus on everything from product strategy to front end design, analytics to social media, investor pitches to user feedback support.
What does the six month plan look like for ClipCard?
We’re raising money to scale the early products we’ve released this year into a necessity for tech and creative teams everywhere.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your current job?
Focus. Like any hungry startup, our vision is a lot bigger than our resources. The hardest part is figuring out how to intelligently narrow that vision and prioritize the next most important things — and then hack and hustle our way to greatness piece by piece.
The rest of the challenges are the fun part. What we’re doing is full of interesting design and tech problems worth tackling. How do you help people make sense of diverse things like contacts, files, and tasks in a single view? How do you play nice with huge APIs at scale? How do you convince people to change their reflexive, ingrained behavior to something that’s way more efficient but perhaps less natural at first?
Good challenges like those are the ones that keep us coming back every morning.
Some have said that Seattle's entrepreneurial talent lags significantly behind other tech hot spots like SF, NYC. Do you agree?
Seattle is packed with tech talent. That same blog is tracking more than 50 companies that have opened engineering centers here. It’s hard to stand in line at a coffee shop and not hear someone venting about a code review or geeking out about a function refactor.
If we’re lacking something, it’s not the talent part. It’s a culture that puts risk and opportunism on a pedestal; the shining social status of being a founder of a tech company nobody’s ever heard of yet.
Sure, we respect entrepreneurs here. But we don’t reify them. We don’t have their stories etched into the cultural narrative of this place. We talk about Bezos and Gates and Shultz as titans of industry, not guys tinkering in a garage. We’re proud of our Isilons and Tableaus and Redfins, but only once they reach major events and sponsor something we care about.
Why? Who knows. Maybe we’re just a more passive people, inclined to embrace the safety of that Amazon job for the same reason we slow down when changing lanes or avert our eyes on the Green Lake trail. Or perhaps it’s our indie-rock, home-grown roots that make us more likely to respect a local restaurateur or barista or brewer than a small company that’s just in the business of trying to become a big one.
Either way, it’s an issue — but it’s also one that’s changing. GeekWire is building a nationally-watched community through reporting and events. Madrona (Venture Group) is killing it right now. Coworking is booming from the UDistrict to Sodo. And every day, an Amazon programmer or a Microsoft PM wonders if there’s a better way.
There has also been talk of a lack of venture capital flow to the region. Has ClipCard had any trouble raising homegrown money, and if so, do you think you would have fared better in the Bay Area?
We’ve pitched investors in Seattle, the Valley, and well beyond; the vast majority of our funding to date has come from out of state. That said, raising money has a lot more to do with your team, your metrics, your vision and your chemistry with VCs than your zip code.
What was your prior professional background?
Most of my career so far has been in creative and design agencies, balancing on the teeter totter between big ideas and business goals.
Are you a Seattle native?
What's your favorite thing to do in the city? Outside the city?
Sail, hike, bike, run, eat. All are fabulous both in and out of the city.
Have you found a favorite grub spot in Pioneer Square yet?
This is hands down the best place in town to be a sandwich. Rain Shadow, Delicatus, Grand Central, Tat’s, Salumi… it’s hard to go wrong.
Favorite book of all time?
Who is someone you look up to?
What would we find in your Netflix account's recently watched section?
I’ve recently launched both a product and a human. I’m not sure Netflix considers anything “recent” anymore.
Where will you be in August of 2016?
With any luck, right here. The coffee is too damn good to leave.
You can sign up for ClipCard here.
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