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2013: A Year in Review
The RNL team during spirit week.
A year ago StorageAhead.com did not exist. That alone tells you how immense the progress has been for Red Nova Labs in 2013. RNL is not what it once was – a hodgepodge of talented, driven people bouncing in all different directions. We’ve kept the talent and the drive, but now we’re a smooth, well-oiled machine. Everyone is on board, forging ahead in the same direction.
“There’s nothing better than 40 people on the exact same page,” said Director of Engineering Tim Banks. A year ago, that was not the case. Some people weren’t even reading the same book (CEO Dan Miller certainly wasn’t). BuzzMeDo, a text marketing platform, was still functioning, and not everyone was focused on the self storage industry.
WebReady, StorageAhead’s web design product for small storage facilities, was introduced in September of 2012. It took off in 2013 and is still one of the company’s main focuses. By Banks’s estimates, we’ve increased our number of WebReady clients nearly ten-fold in the last twelve months. The majority of those were made between the beginning of August and the end of October in an effort to reach what at first appeared to be an unattainable goal set by the management team to spur WebReady sales and production.
The chef preparing our food.
Management aimed to triple WebReady production, and the team was dubious at the start. The prize, of course, was the chef who now prepares Friday lunches. RNL managers like to set impossible-seeming goals, but this was the first one that really encompassed the entire company. Everyone had to kick into high gear to meet the deadline. And it was close – the final site was released on the very last day. But in the end the well-oiled machine came together, all parts greased and moving smoothly, and won the chef that everyone desired.
We’ve had a number of other developments as well. StorageFront added its storage calculator, which we’ve now integrated into the WebReady and WebWorks frameworks. We quadrupled the number of WebReady templates available and routinely provided updates to both our WebReady and WebWorks clients, including a snazzy new mobile design.
Red Nova Labs has become, to the public, StorageAhead and moved away from the catch-all nature it once reveled in. We’ve grown more focused, but we still have posters in the downstairs recreation room to remind us of the ideas that didn’t take off, emblems of the restless creativity that our company loves to foster.
While we’ve narrowed our focus, we’ve expanded our team. As Banks noted, it’s easier to hire people now – and it’s definitely easier to answer that troublesome question, “So what does your company do exactly?”
And hire people we did. The staff has almost doubled in the last year, with each department seeing significant growth. We focused on finding the perfect pieces for our company and accepted only the smartest, most driven applicants. Some important promotions have also helped demonstrate our changing goals and focus. Bob Zhou is now our president, and the solidifying of our management team has helped make the company’s work flow smoothly and precisely.
Our Work Center
Even the physical space we work in has changed dramatically. A year ago, the downstairs was unfinished. Everyone worked upstairs, and the engineering and sales departments were strewn about. Now the departments are centered, and the downstairs flourishes: one half sales room, the other half recreational, complete with a large kitchen, lounge chairs, foosball, and the beloved ping pong table.
The basement under construction.
While we’ve changed and grown, we’ve managed to retain the unique spirit of the place. To highlight how different the RNL atmosphere is from the typical office, CEO Miller instituted Fancy Fridays – since we dress casually 90% of the time, there is now a day on which it’s encouraged that we dress up (though it’s still optional).
“I think we still have a lot of fun,” said Director of Sales Austin Jones. “Our expectations keep rising, but we still are going about it similarly from an attitude stand-point.” He described a meeting in which CEO Miller responded to a question about his goals for the future. “His main goal is to create a work environment that people enjoy coming to every day, [where] people can enjoy each other, grow as a person, and grow professionally,” Jones said. “Even with our success over the past couple of years, and where we all think we’re headed, and as optimistic as we are about the company, Miller’s focus and first reaction was still that he wants to create a work environment that’s fun.”
Indicative of the kind of atmosphere RNL seeks to maintain is Tim Banks’s favorite moment of 2013, the Red Nova Labs Halloween party. From a tour of the Boulevard Brewery to the premier of a zombie film made by some of our very own RNL employees, it demonstrated simultaneously the talent and creativity of our staff and the healthy dose of leisure that keeps us sane and motivated to work that much harder.
The Halloween party premiere of the RNL-made horror film.
We had plenty of other events throughout the year, each as incredible as the last, from employment anniversaries and baby showers to kickball tournaments and a day where the entire staff shut their laptops and had a smoking hot barbeque. We work harder than ever now, so of course we’ve got to play harder than ever as well.
We’re not the little start-up that we once were, but we’re still an amazing place to work, a place full of smart, friendly people putting their heads together to strive for a common goal. We’ve come a long way in the last year, and at the rate we’re going, it’s impossible to tell where we’re headed. Wherever it is, I know it will be a blast getting there.