Category Archives: Business

SRT Solutions takes the next step!

It’s been an incredible year so far, with a whole quarter to go!

In May, I posted that I had joined Netflix in Los Gatos, CA, as Director of Engineering for Cloud Tools (which I’m truly enjoying, by the way). What I didn’t mention at the time was that Bill Wagner and I were in discussions with Atomic Object about buying SRT. It was very important to both Bill and I that our customers and our employees were well taken care of, even as we had decided to both move on to different challenges. Atomic Object offered exactly that.

Culturally, they were a great fit. The two companies are very similar, in terms of both ideal projects and hiring practices. We rarely competed for projects, so we didn’t have much in terms of customer overlap. And, while AO had offices in both Grand Rapids and Detroit, the Ann Arbor market has always seemed quite distinct.

The conversations were immediately productive, and always easy to move forward. We all wanted the same thing — and when people cooperate, great things happen. I couldn’t be more pleased that SRT Solutions has joined Atomic Object!

Carl Erickson, President of Atomic Object, said “SRT is a great company — they’re smart, they have a great reputation for making clients happy, and they care about making software right. We’ll be a formidable team”. A formidable team, indeed! I look forward to hearing continued great news about Atomic Object!

Guiding your career through lessons from entrepreneurs

In November, I presented a keynote at 1DevDay, about entrepreneurship. The talk explored ways that people who never start a company might benefit from knowledge about entrepreneurship. recently published an article that I wrote summarizing some of these ideas.

I’ll soon follow up with a second article in this series.

SRT Solutions named to Inc 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies

SRT Solutions, is thrilled to be named to the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing companies in 2011. To top it off, we were the top ranked software company in Michigan (at position 1901 of the 5000). Bill Wagner and I started this company in 1999, and I feel fortunate to have such a great business partner and a thriving company.

Bill and I didn’t grow this company without help. The patience of our staff, as we transitioned from independent consultants to employers, has been critical, and part of the growth experience. But through steady growth, we’ve been careful to preserve the company culture, believing that if we have a company that we want to work for, then employees and customers will agree. That’s served us well. Much of our business is word of mouth and repeat business, and so our growth is due in large part to our customer as well. We’re glad that they enjoy working with us. Exposure to a variety of industries as we work closely with customers, is one of the joys of custom software development, and also brings fresh perspective to applications across disciplines.

Our employees continue to amaze me. They truly participate in the growth of the company, not only by developing great software but also through fresh ideas and valuable insight into managing the company. Their contribution of applications for the CodeMash conference (PaintWars, MobiMash) and the Hands on Museum Tech Twilight (Android Music Player) provide a fun way to showcase software. Their open source projects (Elevate, ActionLinq, and Jasmine-Flex) have provided value to the greater software community, as well as to our customers. Their articles, appearing in national publications such as MSDN Magazine and Visual Studio Magazine, benefit software developers around the world. Their participation in charity development weekends, such as GiveCamp (Ann Arbor, Lansing) have provided working applications to deserving charities. They have grown their own knowledge, participated, and presented at many local, regional, and national software developer groups. I am grateful for their generosity and benefit directly from their knowledge. The Inc. 5000 ranking is a reflection of their hard work.

The Inc. 5000 list of 2011 represents companies who have grown through the recession. As a Michigan company, we are even more sensitive to that, given the hardships that our state has experienced. We’ve written and spoken about the vibrant software ecosystem in Michigan, and the Inc. 5000 list supports this. The other Michigan software companies on the list include WorkForce Software (2426), Plex Systems (2573), Atomic Object (3043), TechSmith (3486), Campfire Interactive (3660), DaySmart Software (4945), DSS Corporation (4949(, and Paramount Technologies (4964). Of course, the list isn’t only made up of software companies; 125 Michigan companies are represented across a variety of industries. Huge congrats to all! Michigan is a great place to be, and we’re glad that the Inc. 5000 list represents so many of our friends and neighbors!

A Business Case for New Languages …

Learning new languages has always been a part of our jobs as software developers. We’ve had a pretty long streak with Java and C#, but it’s time to move onward and take advantages of more expressive languages, like Scala.  I’ve written an article for Artima, “A Business Case for New Languages: The Benefits of Scala over Java“, and I hope that business leaders will be encouraged to talk to their staff about how their product development might benefit from moving to Scala.  And, it’s timely.  Bill Venners and Dick Wall, of Escalate Software, will be in town to hold a public training course on Scala the week of May 22.  They will take you from novice to fully comfortable in the language in that 1 week.  I’m looking forward to it!

Is it finally “cool” to be a geek?

Techies have long been the subject of jokes, but has the tech world arrived?  Today, Fortune listed the top 50 companies with the best reputations.  In the top 10 were 4 popular tech companies: Apple (1), Google (2), (7), and Microsoft (9).  The top 50 includes a number of other tech companies.

Tech gadgets are mainstream, and even teens are impressed by cool things such as iPads and Android tablets.  Many of the leading tech companies have self-made billionaires at the helm.  Has there ever been a cooler time to be a techie?

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to attract more women to the software industry if it’s now cool to be a geek.

The Business Case for Flexible Workplaces

Sunday’s includes a followup-article on workplace flexibility.  This article discusses what businesses have to gain by providing a more open company culture.  Conversations were started about workplace flexibility at TEDxDetroit.  Keep that conversation going here on SRT’s site.  Please offer your suggestions and experiences.  We would love to hear them!

Do You Have a Flexible Workplace?

Between my article in and my talk at TEDxDetroit, it’s been a busy few weeks, talking and writing about flexible workplaces.  And then, today, I had to follow some of my own advice to stay home with a sick kid.  While he was entertained by Netflix movies on the iPad and books to read, I was able to get about half of my work done today.  I’ll finish it up over the weekend!

SRT Solutions and The Whole Brain Group Team up to Work with Adaptive Materials

SRT Solutions and The Whole Brain Group are working with Adaptive Materials on a new software application for renewable energy.  Funded by an Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II grant, this application will improve the military’s renewable energy usage in the battlefield.

With Adaptive Materials’ renewable energy acumen,  SRT Solutions providing the software development expertise, The Whole Brain Group providing the user interface design and artwork, this project is a great opportunity for three Ann Arbor companies to work together.

You can read more about the project on

Ann Arbor Businesses in the News

Get some updates from some of my favorite business owners

Two bits of news came by my desk today, and since they are about some of my favorite business owners in Ann Arbor, I thought that I would pass them along.

First of all, The Small Giants Community has named Marisa Smith of The Whole Brain Group to its Board of Directors.  Nicely done, Marisa!

And, Pure Visibility has been profiled in a Concentrate Media article, interviewing founders Catherine Juon and Linda Girard.