Last week marked our fifth anniversary of stable|kernel! FIVE WHOLE YEARS. Time really does fly when you’re making payroll each month, switching health care providers, buying thousands of cases of LaCroix a year and seeking out larger office space. I am not sure if Joe could have anticipated where we’d be way back in 2013 when he started this whole thing. It really is an achievement to brag about. So much so that it is worth noting that only 50% of all businesses, with employees, make it to the five-year mark, according to Business Employment Dynamics.
I can’t start HIGH FIVES without mentioning our Founder, Joe Conway. Joe took a gamble when he left a solid high-paying job to go out on his own and found s|k — with no real business prospects of any sort. Joe continually stayed hungry, one of s|k’s core values.
His vision was simple in the beginning: he wanted to create a consultancy that could solve our client’s software challenges. It really was solely a mobile app development company out of the gate. We have continued to evolve and now we are a full end-to-end software development shop. Every day we stand in our clients’ shoes, constantly assessing their business objectives AND solving their complex problems. Here’s one great example of how we are doing it with our world famous client The Fox Theatre.
Our People are our foundation. We invest heavily in them. And, in turn, they reward us with amazing, thoughtful, dynamic work every single day.
I sit down with every new employee during their first week with us and go through our s|k Manifesto. Our Manifesto is a living, breathing document that describes who we are as a company. It’s an evolving conversation about how we will use our core values to shape every interaction and decision at s|k. One of the most important slides in the entire Manifesto has only four words: “We Chose Each Other.” I love this slide because it recognizes that this isn’t a one-way street job. No one is shackled to their desk. Every employee’s opinion is valued. I think this is a huge reason we have been so successful. Not only just successful, but the collaboration we see on a daily basis is really inspiring.
Recently I had a conversation with a friend that attended a monthly business meeting and the discussion turned to whether you should ever let your emotions or feelings get involved in the decisions you make as a business owner. While it’s probably not good practice to mix the two, the truth is, it’s in front of you every day. If an employee gets hurt or something happens to a staff member’s child, you need to be there for them. Our employees need to feel supported, and they want to be a part of a company that genuinely cares. One of our core values is “Integrity Always.” We try to live up to that core value every single day.
I often tell Our Clients that “our relationship with you (and your company) is a partnership.” One of the words I despise most in business is “vendor.” It has a negative connotation, in my opinion. I have always felt that the sooner our clients were saying the word “partnership” about us, most of the heavy lifting was out of the way. Our goal is to literally be an extension of our clients’ businesses. Our clients, like Rheem, seem to think this way about us as they tell us this all the time: “Stable Kernel is our product team. They’ve positioned us at the forefront of mobile technology within our industry.”
Clearly becoming a true partner takes time. And you have to prove yourselves as a company. But, once this happens, the benefits are enormous. Clients challenge us with complex problems, but they stop challenging our decision making. I think this is a critical step in the evolution of our relationship — and ultimately our clients’ products. Our clients’ belief in s|k has resulted in a lot of revenue for us over time, which has enabled us to grow and thrive. There are too many to thank individually, but we wouldn’t be where we are without their tremendous support.
As an entrepreneur, I recognize how impossible it would have been to go on this journey without the complete and unwavering support from Our Family. Who else would be willing to tolerate the crazy schedules? And the litany of nutty ideas that seemingly sprout up on a daily basis? But, it’s their constant positivity, in the face of adversity, that keeps us going. More than that, it motivates us to be better human beings. We can’t let them down.
I often sit in my office and listen, like a Proud Papa, to everyone collaborating on the floor solving the world’s problems (ok, or maybe discussing Slack’s inability to post an appropriate gif). But, none the less, it is incredibly satisfying to hear our people truly enjoying their work and the people they work with.
We have created new opportunities for our folks. We have also created incredibly thoughtful solutions for our clients. Oh, and we have created a place to hang out for some of our folks’ dogs. But, most of all, I believe we have built a place that people are truly proud of. A place where people can point and say boastfully, “I work at stable|kernel. It’s a great place.”
I am truly humbled by what we have created at s|k these last five years. We have created a company that is still and will always be, nimble and malleable. Flexible and quick. As we all know, the world is unstable and technology is moving at an incredibly rapid pace. At stable|kernel, we think speed and agility can conquer size and experience. We know that success breeds paranoia, so we are always striving to work harder and be better than everyone else at everything we do. That’s our competitive advantage.
I can’t wait to see what the next five years bring us.