The Virtuous Cycle of an Open Source Agency*
Get involved in an open source community, write cutting edge code, do right by your clients, and make a decent living in the process.
So you decide you want try your hand at running your own company, maybe even have a smidgen of a positive impact in the process. But there are lots of talented folks who have the same idea and you need a way to stand out a bit and differentiate yourself from your competitors. You also want to stay true to your values, the reason you started a company in the first place.
At ThinkShout, my partner Sean Larkin and I decided to solve both problems by doubling down on what we were already passionate about, open source in general and Drupal in particular. To begin to make a name for ourselves, we dedicated ourselves to giving back as much as we could do the Drupal community that gave so much to us. As much as possible, we designed and wrote the code for our projects to be flexible and useful across a wide array of use cases. For example, a client needed a way to sign up for kayak tours so we wrote an abstract registration solution which now has over 5000 users. All told, there are currently 24,000 websites running on our contributed code.
Even more importantly, our clients benefit because their projects are based on a code base that has at least some adoption in the community. That translates into more eyeballs for catching issues, free (as in kittens) updates, and a pool of developers familiar with the code. While we obviously prefer long term partnerships, we recognize that not all of our clients with always work with us and we feel better knowing they’re on a solid platform.
It’s not all altruism. Our open source contributions are the best source for marketing, lead generation, and references that we could ask for. In short, and apologies for the cliche, but it’s an actual virtuous cycle.
* Previous Open Source Bridge.
* Multiple sessions at BADCamp in 2011 - 2013, including The Business of Drupal and Managing Web Experiences with a Native Drupal CRM in 2013.
* Hosting and presenting at the BADCamp NP summit in 2012 and 2013.
* Hosting and presenting at the Nonprofit Technology Conference Drupal Day 2012-2014
* Presenting at the Northwest Drupal summit in 2011 and 2012.
* Presenting at the Portland Drupal User group.
* Presenting to the Portland Linux user group on Drupal.
Lev co-founded ThinkShout with the goal of bringing sustainable technology to organizations working for change. Lev leads a diverse team of forward-thinking engineers, helping our clients achieve their goals through innovation and technical excellence.
With over fourteen years of experience in web development and technical architecture, it is Lev’s job to constantly improve upon our engineering best practices and ensure that we remain on the cutting-edge of open source. Lev began his career in software development as a consultant with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and Inforte Corporation in Chicago and also spent two years as the Director of Programming at Pop Art, Inc. Lev holds a bachelors degree in business administration (BBA) and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before ThinkShout, Lev ran a highly-respected consultancy, Level Online Strategy, here in Portland, OR. He spends his off hours chasing after his two boys.