On the anniversary of Spyder Trap’s founding in 2008, our CEO Mike Rynchek shared an email with the whole ST team providing a look back at where the company started. And a look at how far we’ve come. The following is the email he shared with us, with some relevant links added so you can explore Spyder Trap’s story even further.
This week, we cruised by another major milestone in Spyder Trap history; we turned nine years old!
Nine years ago, I founded Spyder Trap with the pennies I had saved up after paying my way through college. Things were different back then. The year was 2008, I was living at home after graduation, we were experiencing one of the worst economies in US history and people were down and out. I knew opportunity still existed and was determined to find it. In meeting after meeting, I quickly learned people were fed up with traditional agencies. I didn’t blame them; they were tired of the high cost, lack of focus and all the fluff that came along with traditional agencies. This was our opportunity! I knew if we could focus on quality and speed, it would create enough VALUE to get something going. So, I set out to do just that!
Still living at home and using someone else’s office, nine years ago, Spyder Trap was formed. We had no investors, no board, 100 percent bootstrapped and that’s still true today. Through some relationships I developed in college, I landed our first project…then a second, then a third. At this point, it was time to take the second biggest leap after starting my own business. It now it was time to hire our first employee. After posting on Craigslist and a few other job boards, I was contacted by a fresh faced, talented developer named Joe Barhorst. Spyder Trap now had our first employee! I remember eventually taking my first of what would be a hundred trips to Ikea to get Joe a desk and chair (I still have pictures of me setting up furniture on the weekends). Crazy stuff! I remember sitting with Joe developing what would become SpyderTrap.com 1.0. In short order, we gained our first blue chip client Smiths Medical, then Children’s Hospitals, and then UHG. Spyder Trap was accelerating at a rapid pace. Ask Joe and [Sr. Web Dev] Manick about our nights spent staying up finishing projects together. I hired my college professor, Glenn Seaberg, a smart and talented utility guy for a small company. We were lucky to get him! He could do a little of everything. We continued to grow, but lacked a lot of the traditional “business” related infrastructure. We had part-time accountants in the past, but that never worked so hot. A good friend and mentor introduced me to a very kind and soft spoken woman named Barb Vanags. I remember hearing from my contact:
“You will never get her to join you, but she would be worth every penny if you could.”
She was kind enough to give a driven, budding, entrepreneur 30 minutes out of her busy schedule for a phone call. Keep in mind she had a great consulting business and was very happy with the work she was doing. After a quick phone call she agreed to take us on as a client working one day a week from the butcher-block table downstairs. After months of chasing new business, Barb agreed to join us full-time. Crazy enough that was SEVEN years ago!
I often get asked if we only do web design/dev or only do search marketing?… Spyder Trap has always done most of what we do today, which is everything digital. Obviously when we started it wasn’t even close to the scale and depth to what we offer our clients today. It made sense at the time to offer that breadth of services, as it matched my background and expertise. For the depth of services; one example is that we didn’t have a Quality Assurance (QA) team until Scott Storlie came along, first as a Project Manager, and then decided to build a department of his own. Pretty cool stuff!
Spyder Trap continued to grow over the years going from sharing another agency’s space to quickly taking over their space. Then we expanded downstairs. Things were packed and if you think conference rooms are at a premium now, back then we had only one closed door conference room. Roughly four years ago, we took the leap to our current location in Loring Park. We took on a HUGE amount of space knowing we would grow into it. At that time, the building was empty and the restaurants were lacking patrons, but we had a vision to turn around the block. We tossed our massive sign up cementing our standing as one of the areas upcoming digital firms.
Today I reflect on nine years and what a ride it has been. We now have one of the top digital firms in the region, if not the country! We have a crazy list of blue-chip clients and some of the most talented individuals in the world. Our brand now speaks to people worldwide and our opportunities reflect that reach. The above is only a small snippet of the experiences, challenges and exciting elements that make up the saga that is our history. I think a lot about what got us to this point and I boil it down to two main components. One is a passion to excel and to build something bigger than ourselves. The second is hiring incredibly smart and caring people. As I always say, “people are our product” and that has never been more true. Here we are, almost a decade in. A decade after starting with none, zero of what you see today. How far have we come!? It’s now 2017, a fresh year with many new faces. I write this to you in the hope that you understand the sky is truly the limit at Spyder Trap as long as we understand where we came from and what got us to this point.
Thank you to everyone for making this journey so incredible!
Mike Rynchek, CEO