It’s the principle that guides me.
How can I take what is already good and make it even better? It’s how I approach my work and it’s what
motivates me. As far back as I can
remember, I have had a passion for two things: big ideas and systems—engines,
computers, networks, you name it. Decades
ago, I got my first computer, it was an “Adam” and it had a whopping 80kB of ram. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is how
it all started for me.
Today, as founder, CEO, and lead software designer for Accelerated
Innovations, I lead a remarkable team of programmers and engineers. Together we have developed, and continue to
develop, products that literally change the way the world uses energy. Our MyMeter platform, which allows utilities
and customers to make informed choices about their energy use, is currently
operating in more than 30 electric utilities in more than 25 states. We are building new partnerships in energy
conservation every day.
My story begins in Brainerd, Minnesota, in the
mid-eighties, when my family got our first computer—an antique today, but novel
in every way at the time. Immediately, I
fell in love with it. It felt
revolutionary. There were qualities of
exploration in games like Kings Quest, Space Quest, and Police Quest that
captivated me—I loved the idea that there was a problem and that I had the
ability to solve it with my critical and creative thinking. I truly believe that these first adventure-type
games first evolved my skills in debugging and troubleshooting.
In 1997, at the nudges of my brother, Todd, I
moved to the Twin Cities to study programming at Brown College, where I
thrived. One day, I got an email on my
Juno account—which, back then, got about five messages a week—it was from the
University of Minnesota. I soon found
myself in their Veterinary Teaching Hospital helping them build a Y2K-safe
medical record system. Not only did I
land a great first job in the field I loved, but I also landed a mentor, my
boss, who taught me a great many things about creating a vision for my
career. His guidance and mentorship are
qualities that I continue to pay forward today with my own team.
After a few years, the university hired a new
dean who backed PowerBuilder software, as opposed to the already in-place
Visual Basic 6.0, and I sent myself packing.
I started my second career job at Shavlik
Technologies where I did
a lot of consulting and security work with Fortune 500 clients. There, I got to lead user interface efforts
and build tools for companies like Microsoft, CardioCom, and Hunt
Technologies (now Landis+Gyr).
each turn I was learning more and more about the nuances of this industry—my
projects with Hunt planted the seeds for the work that I do today. Through my work at Shavlik, I was also able
to play a small role in the major successes of some key innovators. For example, Daniel Cosentino, founder of
CardioCom, recently sold his work to Medtronic for $200 million.
Loving life on the
consulting-side, I launched my own enterprise in 2003, High Output Software,
which focused on
project-based software consulting. My
clients included Agstar, Otto Bock Healthcare, and Crow Wing Power, out of
Brainerd, my hometown. Crow wanted their
customers to be able to track their daily energy use, so I created a custom
energy usage feedback portal. It was
such a success that it won some awards, including one from the Cooperative Research
Network for customer service innovation.
As client demands and user numbers grew bigger, the features of our
technology also expanded—we added elements like the “Energy Challenge” and the
neighborhood comparison capability.
my home office, in 2008 I offered
to trade my tech services to a customer in exchange for some space in their new
building. This allowed me to branch out
and reach more and more utilities in need of my services. Not long after that, I partnered with other
innovators, secured significant investors, and officially founded Accelerated Innovations. Together, among
other endeavors, we productized this portal offering as MyMeter.
Relationships are key to good business, so, from
the start I have built connections with people and businesses and maintained
them through solid, steady work.
It has been thrilling to have the support,
resources, and infrastructure to pursue big ideas. In addition to MyMeter, Accelerated
Innovations also launched platforms such as the Fan Connection Network. Potentially too early for its time, FanConNet
offered an interactive experience for fans at events—things like real-time
trivia, ordering concessions, streaming video from stadium cameras all from your
smart device. We landed dozens of teams,
including the Houston Aeros, the Phoenix Coyotes, the Minnesota Timberwolves
and the Minnesota Lynx. Exciting as it
was, we chose to focus exclusively on MyMeter in 2011, which is now worldwide,
servicing dozens of utilities.
Over the years the ways that I spend my hours
may have changed but my vision hasn’t.
Sure, I don’t find myself cranking out hours of code very often these
days—instead I spend countless hours working closely with customers and partners
firsthand. Making eye-contact and
shaking hands with another satisfied client is one of the best feelings in the
world. That, and leading a team of
impressively talented engineers and designers in new directions. And, for me, because it cannot ALL be about
shaping the future of energy consumption, in my spare time one can find me
working on my award winning custom bikes and cars.