I first met Paul Budnitz (@budnitz) in a coffee shop in Burlington, Vermont where we both live. At that point, Ello had just launched, you couldn’t post comments, and there were only about 90 users. I have to say, I was more fascinated by Paul and his perspective on life than Ello itself. Paul brought me on as an intern.
I slowly met Ello’s six other founders, who lived out in Colorado, by sitting in on videocalls. Soon enough, I established that Todd was the one with the beard, Lucian was the one with blonde hair, Jay was the one who set up my basecamp account, Matt was the one whose avatar scared me a little bit, Gabe was the one who called Paul a lot, and Justin — well, I wasn’t really sure what Justin did. I spent the summer watching them work together and helping out where I could.
At the end of the summer, when Paul offered me the position of Ello’s first employee, I did not stick around because I loved using Ello (That part came later, when they added a few more features).
I stuck around because I was completely inspired by Ello’s founders.
Once I learned more about them than their facial hair and calling patterns, I gained an understanding of how their individual personalities and skills fed a fascinating group dynamic.
Todd is always real, engaged in conversation, and using his hands to speak. Lucian is always thinking or examining something, and when he talks, you’d better listen. Jay is the one who knows how everything works behind the scenes, the technology wizard that fixes everything. Matt is the genius who makes the front end beautiful. Gabe brings peace. And Justin is not only an incredible interactive artist, but also unbelievably kind.
My first impression of Paul is still accurate: He has a fascinating perspective on life and is always moving a million miles an hour. Even though he’s moving so fast, he always takes the time to sit down and talk with me.
By the end of summer, I wanted to learn about life from them. I thought that if these guys dreamed up Ello, it was going to rock the world.
Fast forward eight months to today, after I’ve spent a week with Ello’s engineering team based in Colorado. I have a renewed sense of why I am here. I am here, working for Ello, because I am inspired by everyone involved. First by the founders. Then by you, yes you, reading this. Have you noticed how freaking awesome everyone on Ello is?
And now more than ever, I am inspired by the engineering team, who pull off miracles on a daily basis.
They have taught me so much.
They have taught me that you can make anything you want. That small details matter, so argue about them (constructively). They’ve shown me that I deserve to be heard, even by large groups of people that are older than me. Young and old, we all hold jobs to help us grow as people. They have assured me that Denver is better than Boulder. They have assured me that Boulder is better than Denver. They have explained that Vim takes some effort to learn but is worth it, and they have introduced me to Rollout by Ludacris.
Phew. I hate writing conclusions, but I love those making Ello, and those using Ello.
And Ello itself. They added some pretty rad features, so I’m all set.
/cc @budnitz @todd @lucian @jayzes @mk @gv @cacheflowe
Photo by @hermes3s