It has been an incredible nine years since we started Devbridge in a scrappy basement of Chicago’s suburban Bensenville. Queue up noise from landing airplanes at O’Hare International, yellowing drywall, and a musty smell from the neighboring dentist’s office.
Over these nine intense trips around the sun, we have attracted the most passionate, engaged, and creative group of individuals that I have had the honor of sharing our values with. Individuals that have made the company what it is today—a group of 300 across four global offices. That 300 is much like the Spartans: taking no hostages and making no compromises in our pursuit of mastery and the discipline of thought leadership.
We continue our responsible growth beyond that iconic number. The question I’m asked most during interviews is of our founding story. Rather, the reasons why we decided to take on the world while the landscape was saturated with players that ranged from agencies stepping into digital, to consulting companies with employee counts in the tens of thousands.
The best way I can tell the story is to tell it from my point of view, even though there were five of us when the business was founded—all very much influential in the definition of our DNA.
I was raised by two very different parents. My father, a professor of thermodynamics at the Kaunas Technology University in Lithuania, introduced me to playing Snake on the lab’s mainframe when I was five. My mother, an art and sculpture teacher, brought me along to art classes where I scribbled around while kids twice my age were studying pencil renderings, watercolor, and oils. As I grew older, technology and design kept resurfacing as hobbies first, then side jobs.
Around 1999, I found a data entry job at a life insurance company to pay for college which paid $25,000 annually. Correction: The job primary paid for custom gaming PCs and big subwoofers in my Civic SI, but also helped me chip away at tuition. Over the course of four years, I graduated from school and started experiencing what I would later recognize as the corporate indifference syndrome. I moved up through multiple roles at the insurance company, constantly finding that the acquired role took up—at most—30 percent of my day. Asking for additional work or responsibilities usually fell on deaf ears, so I was left with a lot of idle time.
These patterns kept repeating through other jobs in the corporate world. I became more and more frustrated, feeling as though I wasn’t really moving at the pace or energy level I desired. Left with plenty of spare time, I started doing side projects for small businesses—from design work, to brochure websites, flyers, and building a custom PC here and there. Complacency and mediocrity were driving me insane during my day job, but I could always make more money and engage my brain through these freelance gigs.
The rest is history. The group of founders were experiencing similar symptoms in their full-time jobs, so we started collaborating on larger projects than ones we could handle individually. All of a sudden, we found ourselves in a position where we had to make a choice: Quit our comfortable, well-paying full-time jobs and invest into the seedling of a business, or continue trudging through the corporate world of indifference. You know the choice we made.
The choice was in line with a value we continuously strive for: to defy mediocrity. What does that mean? It’s a commitment to constant improvement. It’s the rejection of settling for average.
The people we attract today identify with our six core values. They’re people who are frustrated with mediocrity, indifference, and the status quo. Those who want to foster change and progress find Devbridge a welcoming, engaging place to grow as professionals. The job we do is not an easy or comfortable one, however the rewards tell their own story.
The experiences we’ve had along the way, along with our iron work ethic, have allowed an underdog like us to serve Fortune 1000 clients while going toe-to-toe with the Goliath consultancies of the industry. We’re having fun while doing it. We may also have a bit of an attitude.
That’s our story, but it’s one that continues to evolve. On September 21, we’re hosting an open-house event at our Chicago office. The event, Defy Mediocrity, is for the rebels, pioneers, and pirates of the professional world interested in joining our team.