Silicon Prairie News

AppendTo co-founders discuss rapid growth, distributed workforce

July 29, 2010 by Danny Schreiber Only 22 days until Big Omaha. Get your tickets before they sell out!

Editor's Note: This is a follow up to an article we published last week: Co-founders Jonathan Sharp & Mike Hostetler tell the appendTo story.

With a clever line of jQuery yesterday, appendTo co-founder and president Jonathan Sharp publicly welcomed the newest member to his company's team:

AppendTo, based out of Denver, is a consulting, training and support company for jQuery, the most popular of the JavaScript libraries. The company currently stands tall as the only major player in this arena, and since forming last October, they've expanded quite rapidly.

The new employee greeted in the tweet above, Elijah Manor, is the company's tenth team member. He currently lives and will remain in and work out Nashville, Tennessee, which brings the appendTo distributed team state total to eight.

"We'll do the rundown…San Francisco, [two in] Denver, two here in Omaha…ah, what's next?" Sharp said. Sharp, who's located just outside of Omaha in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, finished the list with states: Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

To review, they have nine full-time employees and one contractor spread across eight states, and as of today, the company's been in business for just over nine months.

"Everybody we've pulled on so far we've been very aware of their skills around remote working," appendTo co-founder and CEO Mike Hostetler said.

"We strive to really connect people during our normal workday and we do that through a variety of different activities," said Hostetler. "We all get on Skype and talk and we have a daily stand-up…half the purpose of it is for everybody to communicate on what they're doing but the other half is really just connecting, joking around."

The team members will all meet in real life – some for the first time – at this year's jQuery Conference in Boston, which will be similar to the one held in San Francisco this past April.

For the time being, however, Skype will suffice for their face-to-face interaction. "It allows [Mike and I] to go face-to-face and engage for some really important conversations that need to happen," Sharp said. "But then there's also the ability to shut it off," he added, which allows him to go heads down and get work done.

Sharp said all the team members are encouraged to work around 45 hours per week and to maintain a healthy work-life balance. "Our culture of creativity is really key to appendTo and one of the things that we use to give us space to do that is really keep a balance between work and life," Sharp said.

As president and CEO of appendTo, Sharp and Hostetler continue to develop their company's employees and plan for growth.

"We've even talked about assigning somebody to read the Getting Things Done book before they start," Hostetler said. "[We read] tips and tricks on how to be effective, how to work efficiency. We want to build those into the company culture and we've put a lot of effort into how we organize the company to be able to grow and yet really maintain that feel of a small creative team."

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