August 1, 2014

Meet the Squirrels: Matt Becker

This is the sixth post in an ongoing Meet the Squirrels series. Read more in this series.

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Matt Becker is from Bolivar, Ohio. Along with being a partner, he is the company’s project manager. Matt takes great pride in the software development process from start to finish; he creates an efficient work environment that allows the team to work together and succeed, turns product visions and new features into a reality by monitoring product design goals and staying true to the initial vision and then ensures that Squirrels’ offerings meet customer needs.

When asked about the coolest thing he’s ever done at Squirrels, Matt said, “It’s really hard to say one thing was cooler than something else because we’ve been able to positively affect so many people by doing what we love to do. I’ve been able to contribute simply by being passionate and by trying to be a great leader. Being given an opportunity to do this is without a doubt the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.”

Matt’s favorite part of working at Squirrels is not feeling like he’s at work. “I never wake up and think to myself, ‘I’m not in the mood to work today.’ I’m surrounded by an awesome team that is capable of doing awesome things.”

Learn more about Matt Becker!

Favorite things to do in your free time: Drives to nowhere, learning new and crazy things (I’m currently learning how to assemble my own guitar effects pedals), basically trying to not have free time.

Favorite food: Pita chips and vegetables with hummus

Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones (unless NBA Basketball counts)

Favorite Movie: I count Star Wars Episodes IV – VI as one movie, because that’s how I watch them.

Favorite Band/Artist: I don’t have a favorite band/artist, but some of my favorite music genres are Trip-Hop, Downtempo and Post-Rock.

Your idol and why: Over the years, I’ve had a number of idols and people whom I’ve looked up to. But Steve Jobs is always on that list and usually very near the top. The way that he was able to productize something that was considered to be too nerdy or too techy, is something that I continue to try to understand.

Your motto: I’ve always told myself and others, “Do awesome things.” I’ll probably be using this more after seeing James Whittaker (@docjamesw) speak a couple times at a conference that I recently attended.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? Some sort of exotic bird, like a Macaw. To live in a jungle, fly around in the canopies, be generally beautiful and majestic… that sounds like a pretty good life.

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Up until I was about 16, I was convinced I was going to be a touring musician in a rock band. THAT… did not happen. 

If you could have one super power, what would it be? It’s not a “super power” per se, but if I could be adept in using the power of The Force, I’d be very satisfied.

July 25, 2014

Meet the Squirrels: Cory Shoaf

This is the fifth post in an ongoing Meet the Squirrels series. Read more in this series.

A native of Bolivar, Ohio, Cory is a partner of the company as well as the creative director and UI designer. Cory makes sure all of the departments have what they need to do their job with the most appealing imagery and design assets.

In Cory’s opinion, the best part about working at Squirrels is the people. “I believe there isn’t another company with the same personality and drive as what we have at Squirrels,” he said. “I love everyone here and it feels like a big family. When you have such a great community of people all striving towards the same goal, you can really create some great things.”

The company retreat to Lake Tahoe last year was Cory’s coolest experience at Squirrels (so far!). “It was an experience where everyone from the company was able to converse, share stories, think of new strategies and have a blast doing so.”

Learn more about Cory!

Favorite things to do in your free time: I love to play golf, mess around on various musical instruments and design icons in my spare time.

Favorite food: Pizza

TV show: Game of Thrones

Band/artist: Daft Punk

 Your idol and why: My Dad. He has always been an encouragement to me and I look up to him for advice and sometimes a good laugh.

Your motto: Party on.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? Dog. Dogs have the best existence.

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to play baseball for the Cleveland Indians. I would practice in the back yard pretending to hit home runs at Jacob’s Field (now Progressive field).

If you could have one super power, what would it be? The ability to see the future… an oracle if you will.

July 21, 2014

Meet the Squirrels: Sidney Keith

This is the fourth post in an ongoing Meet the Squirrels series. Read more in this series.

Sid came to Squirrels from Mineral City, Ohio. As one of the company’s partners, Sid wears many hats. A lot of the work he does stems from his degree in public relations: social media, syndicating press releases, business development, people management, sales, attending conferences and much more.

The coolest thing Sid has done at Squirrels was start it! “When Squirrels was first coming about, there were late, late, late nights at the office,” he said.  “I was still in college, so I would go out on a Friday night and come back after the bars closed to answer emails and work on things. Starting something from nothing has definitely been a pretty cool experience.”

Being a part of the beginning has given Sid the chance to fully appreciate what Squirrels is today. “Squirrels has become much more than a job. The people here are like family. Coming to work isn’t working. Sure, we get things done, but we’re having fun while we do it, and I enjoy it. I don’t dread coming in every morning because I get to see and be with people who are passionate and care about what we’re doing.“

Learn more about Sid!

Favorite things to do in your free time: I really enjoy hanging out with friends. Often times it’s the same people I work with. It really doesn’t matter what we do—barbecuing, bowling, going out on the town, going to the beach, etc.

Favorite food: I love grilled burgers and hot dogs, and I wear my Taylor Swift apron while I grill. Can’t get much more American than that, right?

TV show: Until last year, my favorite series was Californication on Showtime…. and then I watched Game of Thrones. Now I own Game of Thrones cups, blankets, paintings, maps, board games, card games and Blu-rays. I think you get it.

Band/artist: I listen to all kinds of music, so I can’t say I like Eric Church more than Taking Back Sunday because it’s comparing Apples and Oranges. My favorite music changes daily depending on mood, situation, location, etc. You’ll find me listening to the top 40, rap, 60s/70s/80s, alternative, house… the list goes on. I should say that I have every Taking Back Sunday and Taylor Swift album autographed and hanging on my wall.

Movie: Favorite movies are the same as music. My Blu-ray collection is 300 strong and still growing!

Your motto: A book I read in high school had a main character that lived by the motto “What’s life without risks?” I like to go by that, but a bit more toned down. 

If you could be any animal, what would you be? A turtle, but not just any turtle. Crush from Finding Nemo. Why? He’s chill and wise. He seems like he knows everything about the world (ocean?) but still doesn’t have a care. Also, who doesn’t like sea turtles?!

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a train engineer. Trains are awesome! When I was younger, I always made my mom take me to train museums and buy me model train sets. I had a really cool model set with tunnels, mountains, roads and all kinds of other stuff. This past January I drug my girlfriend to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, and it was awesome. I actually think I would still do it—even if trains are a thing of the past.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Flying! I hate flying commercially. It’s slow, inefficient, crowded, unhealthy, whatever. It’s a pain. I can see it now: no sitting in traffic, going through TSA check points, sitting next to toddlers or sweaty sick people. It would be great, and super efficient! No more red-eye flights home from Vegas!

July 11, 2014

Meet the Squirrels: Cody Baker

This is the third post in an ongoing Meet the Squirrels series. Read more in this series.

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Cody is a west coast Squirrel! Although he was raised in Bolivar, Ohio, he now lives and works from Seattle, Washington. Cody is a partner at Squirrels and also holds the titles of senior software developer and systems engineer. Cody’s main duty is developing and managing our cloud software and infrastructure.

“That means I spend a lot of my day writing python and database code,” he said. “I also maintain the backend systems and servers that enable our team to build and deliver your favorite Squirrels products. “

Cody has enjoyed his Squirrels experience in its entirety. “I love the variety of what I do at Squirrels; there’s no single coolest thing,” he said. “The best part about working at Squirrels is the team.”

Learn more about Cody! 

Favorite things to do in your free time: I like to get away from the computer when I have free time.  I enjoy traveling and the outdoors.  Seattle is amazing in the summer time and I love to bike and see all of the beautiful places here.  Lately, I’ve been repairing and remodeling a 1920s house. 

Favorite food, TV show, movie and band/artist:

  • Food: Thai Curry 
  • TV Show: The West Wing
  • Movie: Lost in Translation.  A close second is Contact w/ Jody Foster from the 90’s.
  • Band: Beach House.  I really love music; I listen all day and try to see something live at least once a week.  There’s a lot of artists I’m fond of, but Beach House never gets old and always puts me in a good mood.

Your idol and why: I think a lot of the people who do the best and most inspiring work stay out of the spotlight.

Your motto: Trust in people.  Sometimes people make bad decisions, but there’s almost always a good reason. 

If you could be any animal, what would you be? Manatee

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When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?: Astronaut

If you could have one super power, what would it be? I’d love the ability to pause time for everyone but me.  It’d be great.  I’d sleep in as long as I wanted every morning, take the scenic route, and do some great reading, all without compromising my work/social life.

July 7, 2014

Meet the Squirrels: Andrew Gould

This is the second post in an ongoing Meet the Squirrels series. Read more in this series.

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Drew is the COO and co-founder of Squirrels. A native of Green, Ohio, he manages the day-to-day operations at Squirrels by greasing the wheels between departments and making sure customers are getting the greatest experience possible from all aspects of the company. He facilitates communication and provides guidance to assure tasks are done to set standards of speed and quality. Andrew looks after the everyday evolution of the products to ensure they work and look great.

In the past five years at Squirrels, Drew has been able to experience incredible things. “Numerous Apple WWDC keynotes, dominating meetings with distinguished businessmen two and three times my age, snowmobiling in Montana, jet skiing on Lake Tahoe, blazing trail for new trends and helping revolutionize education and business with technology,” he said. “The coolest thing we’ve done collectively at Squirrels is assemble a team of 22 people that are great at what they do and so passionate about only putting out the best of everything.”

Drew has come to appreciate the diversity in his everyday routine. “One minute we’re crunching to hit a deadline, the next we’re in the midst of a foam rocket war, then we’re hearing great feedback about our products changing classrooms and then we’re moving quickly react to an issue at hand and resolve it promptly. Every day I wake up I’m excited to come to work and see what the day holds. Not many people can say that.”

Learn more about Drew!

Favorite things to do in your free time: I love to cook. I’ve always had a basic knack for cooking and have spent my post-college-pizza-diet-years learning new skills and techniques. I also try to focus on making healthy versions of every day dishes. I like to supplement healthy eating with running and working out. My brain is much sharper when my body is in shape and I generally have a better outlook on life. I also love traveling and experiencing different cultures, as well as listening to and playing music. In my 27 short years, I’ve learned to play the saxophone, electric guitar, classical guitar and bass guitar. I went through a phase where I was really into making digital music using things like Maschine and MIDI keyboards but eventually settled back into playing electric guitar.

 Favorite food: Authentic Japanese Ramen (although the packaged kind is mighty delicious)

TV show: Top Gear (UK version)

Movie: A tie between Ocean’s 11 and Goodfellas

Band/artist: Green Day

Your idol and why: My parents are definitely two people I really look up to. Everything I have or have achieved today is because they provided the base to build on. They taught me about hard work, seeing things through and loyalty. Even though it’s become really cliché to say, Steve Jobs was someone I looked up to even at a young age. More recently, I’ve really enjoyed watching Elon Musk’s passion to unrelentingly question the old way of doing things and push our technologies and culture forward. It’s really fascinating to watch the closest we’ll probably come to a real-life version of Tony Stark.

Your motto: We can always be better. I’m a firm believer that our best is only a stepping-stone to the better thing we can become. I’m always pushing myself and others to be better and improve on everything we do in life.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? A velociraptor. Somehow Mother Nature messed up and made us the dominant species instead of them.

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an architect when I was really young and then anything involving computers after that. There is an old home movie of me sitting on a computer desk playing an Atari when I was about one and a half years old. I frequently asked “why?” whenever anyone tried to tell me something had to be a certain way. That pretty much set my career choice on an inalterable crash-course for where I am today.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? The power to open vacuum-formed packaging quickly without injury.