And So It Begins

I’m a Jill-of-all-trades. Clinical social worker by training, health policy nerd by choice, systems-thinker, researcher, analyst, strategist, amateur herbalist. Here’s the long and short of how I found myself building a software company.

🤹🏻‍♀️Connecting the Dots

I live a connect-the-dots kind life, taking turns, pitstops and pauses when I see an opportunity fitting my simple criteria: I get to help people and I get to grow personally. Recently, I made the move from a career in health policy, research and program development, to starting a new chapter in tech, software and entrepreneurship.  With any major transition, I’ve had my ups-and-downs—riding waves of excitement and fear and every emotion in between.

A couple of key things aligned in order for me to make this jump: 1) my partner Dave is a tech entrepreneur and was on the hunt for his next project; and 2) I wanted to better understand tech and product development in order to best tackle the problems we face in health care. Combining forces with Dave, I’m strengthening my business skills, learning how to navigate the tech scene, and building software products.

🖥My little corner of the tech entrepreneur world

Dave, me and Gustavo during a week-long strategy and planning session. Oakland, CA - October 2019.

I currently spend most of my worklife with two business partners: Dave Gorum and Gustavo Gallegos.

Dave’s my partner; we met in Chicago, and a couple of years ago we moved across the country to Oakland, CA. We figured since we do everything else together, why not build a business. Dave is a product designer with a recent successful exit from a software company he founded and ran for 13 years. His superpower is in marketing - Dave has an uncanny ability to catch your attention and draw you in (I can attest to this personally and professionally).

Gustavo and Dave met at a meditation retreat. Gustavo is a software engineer and has worked in tech/Silicon Valley for over a decade, as a founder and an early employee in a handful of successful startups. He was contemplating a change in work—the fast-paced and high-growth tech world can be exhausting. But when Gustavo met Dave and me, he decided he had it in him to build another tech company. We’ve known Gustavo for about six months, and like any good relationship — you just know when you’ve met a match.

Dave, Gustavo and I incorporated a company in California, Meaning Inc.

Through technology, we have limitless access to information and we have the flexibility to work in novel ways. Meaning believes one of the best ways to find your footing in this changing landscape is to meet friends and peers to join you on your professional journey. Our purpose is to give folks tools and create a community to explore meaningful work.

We’re doing this because it’s something we personally want to exist in the world. We want to build a community of others like us: the designers, researchers, engineers, writers and other professionals who are doing creative work. And we want to build tools so we can better share our thinking, form connections and carve out a space in the world for aligning meaning with work. Meaning is a software company, but it also includes in-person meetups so we can form relationships IRL.

I’m using my research, analyst, organizational, and strategy skills to build structure around the company as we grow.

Safe to say: I’m the only one on our founding team who gets excited about designing a nuts-and-bolts business strategy around accounting, legal, finance, and HR.  The biggest learning curve for me has been building an organizational structure in tandem with product development. While building org structures and processes is familiar, building software products that people can actually use still feels kind of magical.

The learning curve in the early startup stages has been steep: finding lawyers, deciding on a corporate entity, creating an investment strategy, determining equity distribution, bringing on our first advisor, figuring out the best tools and technologies to build the software, and on!  There’s no such thing as a “right” decision—in many ways it simply comes down to the best decision based on the information we have access to.While this can induce feelings of panic, the analyst in me is thriving, collecting as much information as possible through researching and networking to inform our decision making.

➡️What’s next for Meaning?

We have some idea of Meaning’s next steps: building and testing our first software tool (the Hopper, a networked thought processor), securing investment funding until our revenue streams are up-and-running, and growing our community of friends, supporters and collaborators.

What this actually looks like, I’m not yet sure! I’ve given up on trying to guess at what the future will look like and rest assured we are doing everything we can to set a sound strategy to get us where we want to go.

Blooming beavertail cactus—Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA. March 2019.

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