Today, Stable Kernel marks our 5th birthday. I say “our” rather than “its” because as a company, Stable Kernel really is the sum of the people who are part of this organization. From CEO Joe to brand-new UX team member Kaitlyn, Stable Kernel’s heart is its people and what keeps us going is our commitment to both our work but also each other.
So many companies have organizational missions and values. Or corporate mantras. Pillars they “live by.” Except that they don’t. Tiresome platitudes and hipsterisms get painted on walls, gestured to when new employees arrive, and ultimately forgotten.
Well, that’s not the case here. Our values are really impressed on each one of us. Not only are we expected to know what they are (Integrity Always; R.E.S.P.E.C.T.; We Learn & We Share; We Stay Hungry), we are expected to live them. Living our values can be more challenging on some days and we will all fall short. But having these standards to aspire to keeps every member of the SK family aligned in why we are building the company we are building.
This idea comes through in all of our processes and documentation. The first page of our company onboarding deck reads: “It’s pretty magical when your career, your skills, your curiosity, and your passions align.” And that’s what we want for each member of our company every day.
So first came the “what kind of company we want to be for ourselves” and then the conversation turned externally to “what kind of company do we want to be for our clients and community?” Out of this conversation grew our company purpose: “We’re engaged in building a business that constructs mindfully crafted software to solve our partners’ challenges.” So how do we achieve that?
We are Client Inspired.
The first step to meeting our purpose was to create imperatives – or the things we need to get right, put in place, in order to truly deliver on this company purpose. One of these imperatives is “We are client inspired.”
When I joined this company, we’d always come up against a lot of the same players when it came to competing for business. We all had similar services – iOS, Android, Backend, UX. So what was different about us? We were new and just starting to build a great culture, so it wasn’t really that, yet you could tell culture was going to be part of our secret sauce. But what else?
“There is extraordinary chemistry that exists in long-term relationships.” Conrad Levinson, Author, Guerilla Marketing
One thing we didn’t want to be was just another development vendor that looks at a client’s requirements and comes back to them in a few months with a finished product. There are a lot of dev teams out there that can build great products but might not have the chops to think about how products really fit into a company’s digital ecosystem and business goals.
A benefit of having previously come from a developer training company, Joe has the amazing ability to boil complex technical concepts down into something digestible for a non-developer like me. And he did that for our clients all the time. Our kernelers who had also taught possessed this skill as well. And as leaders of our company, this point-of-view was passed on to other developers who could truly listen to the needs of our clients and then help them understand the various solutions we could offer them.
Over time, as we got to know our clients even better, we could offer them more solutions based on our deeper understanding of their business. Core to this is the idea that no matter how little a client knows about software, our job is to help guide them through the process. To educate them on new technologies that can help them achieve their metrics for success. That’s one of the many reasons why R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is such an important part of our culture – because our clients are captains of their industries. They have entrusted us with their success and in turn, Stable Kernel’s success is tied to how well we can bring that about for them.
Over the last five years, we’ve built a strong reputation for doing great work, being fun to work with, and standing out amongst our competitors as something different. And all of a sudden, we’re competing with different types of companies for business. It’s no longer established development companies; we’re now at the same table large marketing and digital agencies are invited to. It’s pretty exciting and we’ve got a clear picture for how we want to grow.
So we’ve invested in a lot of senior talent and we’ve realigned our sales and account teams to make sure clients are at the center of every conversation. We’re focused on building out the research division we launched two years ago to be more than building new and emergent technologies and tools, but also to offer clients a more well-rounded market research offering that helps us understand our clients’ needs and their users’ needs more.
As our clients look to us to help them understand how machine learning and the Internet of Things and AR and VR fit into their business, we’re surfacing new ways of thinking about how their businesses can leverage transformative tech into powerful business and brand solutions. And we’re also cautioning them that however shiny and new an emerging technology might be, it has to provide usefulness and value if it wants to have longevity and stickiness. Ultimately, that’s what we want too – to provide value to our clients and do it in a way that makes us sticky.
So to our clients, thank you for believing in us, trusting us and partnering with us. We wouldn’t be here without you.