Four of Kipsu's Finest Celebrate Five Years as Kipsuvians
As David Bowie once sang, "We've got five years, stuck on my eyes. Five years, what a surprise." It's sometimes truly surprising how fast time goes. It's also surprising at what can be built, cultivated, and accomplished in five years. For example, it takes a Chinese bamboo tree five years to break through the topsoil, but once it does, it grows 35 inches each day (that's 1.5 inches-per-hour for us math-phoebic individuals).
Much like that little bamboo seedling, Kipsu spent a bit of time underground, coming up with and developing a product that helps people connect and engage with one another. Once Kipsu sprouted through the surface however, it mimicked the growth of the Chinese bamboo and grew at an astonishing rate. We're honored to have a few of those early-pace-settlers still on our team today, helping to cultivate a culture for our company and lead and mentor incoming seedlings, I mean Kipsuvians. It's been five years since Justin Porter, Othman Smihi, John VanDeWeghe, and Kris Eul joined Kipsu, and we can't imagine where we would be without their careful sowing, nuturing, and cultivation of their respective teams and roles.
Justin Porter, Kipsu's Vice President of Operations and Yoda of Networking, is passionate about finding the best way of serving our customers, and rightfully so as the leader of the Customer Success team. He genuinely and intensely cares about our customer's satisfaction and success with Kipsu and isn't scared to leap into action when even one partner isn't seeing the value in it. This has not mellowed out throughout his time at Kipsu, either. As his colleague and former office roommate, Othman Smihi, observes, "As Kipsu has grown from just a couple of people in a small office to a team of over 70 with customers all around the world, some things have changed, but Justin has stayed consistent as a relationship-oriented, customer-focused leader on our team and I'm happy to work alongside him." And we couldn't agree more, except at the annual picnic where Justin and his lovely wife, Genna, stand in glory over the corpses of their defeated bean bag opponents for two years running, but I digress...
An unknown fact about Justin Porter is he's a poet and we didn't know it! (See what I did there?) Revel in the suspense for a few minutes, as this leads me to our next five year-er, Othman Smihi. Othman serves Kipsu as the Vice President of Engineering. He runs his team with an iron fist encassed in cotton candy. He's uncommonly kind, except to the bugs and hurdles in Kipsu's system, of which he goes after with ferocity and a sturdy determination.
There was a Kipsu cookout a couple of years ago and Othman brought his young sons along. His oldest son, Hakim, bee-lined to an enormous cookie plate and looked at his dad, eyes wide and sparkling. Othman told him, "Okay, just one though, alright?" The second Othman's back was turned, a handful of us witnessed the four year old do his best Cookie Monster impression and shove not one, but five cookies into his mouth. We were impressed and entertained, but knew this could be bad news for Hakim once dad saw those cheeks chimpmunked out in sugary, frosted deliciousness. Othman came by, assessed the damage, and gently said, "Okay, that's enough cookies, let's go toss around some bean bags over there." (I assume to train him to finally defeat the reign of Team Porter at the upcoming Kipsu picnics... and no, I'm not salty!) Othman is a leader who doesn't sweat the small things, knows how and when to reroute efforts or focus, gauge when something is legitimately an issue, and is the first to step in when someone has bitten off more than they can chew (even when that takes literal form).
And now, get your finger snaps ready, for you are about to bask in a poem by our very own Vice President of Operations, Justin "Robert Frost" Porter.
An Ode to Othman
Othman is an amazing guy
He would never tell a lie
He works so hard with his headphones on
So he can't hear our friend named John
Othman is a great engineer
Tackles bugs without any fear
Othman fixed the major Pusher bug
Led ABC integration and got a mug
His leadership is like no other
Did he learn it from his mother?
Intelligent is a word
That describes him better than just a "nerd"
Patient and calm come to mind
To describe Othman, and the word "kind"
He's also great to share office space
And keeps up an incredible work pace
Othman is also a family man
Has 3 kids, a wife named Chris, and a master plan
He's a role model for us all
And he's always willing to take a call
Although it's tough to top the muse of Justin Porter, coming in hot at 10 AM is the software developer who made Kipsu what it is today: John VanDeWeghe. John joined Kipsu at the ripe old age of 18. His colleague, Connor Valenti, beautifully sums it up, "It's entirely impossible to discuss engineering at Kipsu without bringing up the name 'John VanDeWeghe.'" He embodies the institution and is the first to hop in to help or explain a concept to his coworkers, helping each of them grow. "Aside from the fact that he's a brilliant programmer, some of John's most significant value lies in his willingness to share and teach," Connor continues, "if you ever have a question about how a part of the product works, John never hesitates to take time out of his day to explain to you in fervent detail the information you need to do your job well."
It's odd to see John without a smile on his face or a goofy comment or conversation to bring a little sunshine to his coworkers' day. He lifts up all those around him, both in knowledge, and overall mood. His sweetness is only rivaled by that of his coffee.
Speaking of caffeinated, energetic people, here comes Kris Eul sprinting across the office and across the finish line of his own 5 year anniversary. Kipsu's Vice President of Hospitality Strategic Partnerships can be recognized as the blur of human and stylish glasses on his way to a demo or free dessert in the kitchen (or the person Anna has renamed "Slow down!").
If Kris had a superpower, it would be his unyielding positivity. The building could be on fire, and Kris would say, "Wow, how toasty is it in here?! Cozy, right? Anyone have marshmallows?" Kris's passion for his work and coworkers is so discernible in everything he does. As his close coworker, Drew Anunti, notes, "Whether it's ringing the gong, a well-placed meme, a 'let's go', or just a high five—Kris brings an energy and a presence that is welcoming and contagious and makes people around himwant to work harder." Kris cares a lot about his coworkers and is probably the most encouraging, confidence-building person to walk through Kipsu's doors. Drew further gushes about his man-crush, "Kris is often the first to schedule coffee with a new hire, congratulate a teammate on a job well done, and most importantly be an ear or a kind word when things aren't going perfectly. He was always there to remind me after a tough week that we were in this together and we had the opportunity to build something really big, but nobody could do it alone."
Going beyond together, these four Kipsuvians are exactly what we define a "Kipsuvian" as: resourceful, tenacious, curious, kind, talented, uplifting, motivated, and most of all, they lead by example. We're so thankful that you played the long game with us. Cheers to five years, and here's to the next five!
(Oh also... we're hiring!)
We're looking for motivated people to join our growing team in Minneapolis. See our careers page to view all open positions and submit an application.