TL;DR: I’m starting a Web design and development company, Iron to Iron, with a great friend Kevin Richardson. We open shop November 1st and we’re more than excited about it. You can read more about the brand, the name, and our principles on Kevin’s site.
The entrepreneurial spirit is somewhat interesting subject matter for me. In our world, there seem to be two schools of thought. One revolves around startups, funding, and investors, while the other is based on different principles entirely. I can’t say that one is better than the other, because a large segment of our economy is based upon companies being created, purchased, and growing throughout their lifetime.
I’ve had an underlying interest in business for quite some time, and I do my fair share of study and analyzation of companies I’ve come to know and respect, even if it’s from an observation window. I haven’t always had that entrepreneurial spirit, though. I’ve always been one to take comfort in a steady pay check and appreciate the job I’m so blessed to have. That said, however, over the past couple of years I’ve found myself in more and more managerial and business development meetings. I quickly realized that, for one reason or another, I actually had business-focused opinions on all of this. I was excited about the prospect of making decisions that would help set the pace for my company and it was great to watch things unfold over time.
I took hold of this new mindset and continued to study and analyze best practices in our specific industry. I found similarities with other industries and tried to determine what they were doing right, because I recognized that what we do can still be considered “new” and lots of people had lots to say about frustrations in the field. I determined that process was the key to success and winging it & not adapting to lessons learned with every project is a recipe for failure.
The interest continued to build, specifically over the past year or so, and it came to a head when meeting with a good friend. We spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the Web. Design, development, who’s doing what, the client factor(s), and the business end too. We were on the same page since the first day we met, and became increasingly in sync over time.
The combination of my experience in a decision-making, managerial role at an agency and the discussions I would have on a consistent basis planted an idea in my head that I should see what I can really do with myself. It was time to open shop.
A quick history lesson
My professional desire became refined in college, when I discovered that I wanted to be a professional Web developer/designer, a devigner (or deseloper) if you will. I took my first professional job as a member of a Web Team at a company, working on their website as a student employee. I learned a lot about the working world and office culture there and I was happy to be getting paid to do and learn more about this work I’ve become so interested in. While working there, I stumbled across a job listing for a Web developer at an agency in my city. Some butterflies and emails later, I found myself working at a small shop of around 10 people, working on what felt like a new project every couple of weeks. This is what it was all about for me! My first agency job learning way more than I did in college, using the skills I had been teaching myself for the past 10 years. I was hooked.
I took that position roughly six years ago, working my way from an hourly employee to a position titled Development Director, which I’d compare to being a combination of more descriptive titles such as Lead Developer & Development Manager. The position called for a number of hats to be worn, which is the de facto at a small(er) shop, although the company has just about doubled in size since I started.
I really enjoyed my time there, all six years of it, but I couldn’t help but feel compelled for something different. As many agencies do, my company would work to help clients with entire campaigns, not just their website. When I first started, I really enjoyed the versatility “full service” provided, but my excitement quickly waned and I found myself being distracted from my favorite part: Web design and development.
That distraction quickly blossomed into a feeling of discontent that had me feeling like I wasn’t offering my full focus and attention to my position. I rediscovered my deeply rooted passion for (only) the Web and determined that it was time for something more. I had become comfortable in my position and I didn’t like that. After continuous difficulty in decision making, I concluded it was time for a big change. I wanted to start my own company.
I’m not a solo guy
I’m not quiet or reserved about how much I revere the Web design community. You guys have taught me everything I know and I devote quite a bit of time trying to pay you all back. The knowledge literally floating around our space is invaluable and I know we all recognize that. I would read about the exciting (and often frustrating) lives of the freelancers I respect to the highest degree, and I’d want to be doing that. I didn’t have the desire though, not to go at it myself.
There are many attractive aspects about working for yourself, but I take comfort in knowing that there’s someone else to bounce ideas off of, to rely on, to have faith in. I’m confident in my abilities but I also recognize that I have a focus, leaving a wide array of bullet holes in my comprehensiveness. Finding a partner was not something I took lightly.
I met Kevin Richardson somewhere around three years ago and quickly found common ground with him. There was a lot of it. As time went on and we became closer friends, I realized that he was an extremely talented individual, both in design and production value. We also grew closer on a personal level, and I found him to be a man that I can learn from, admire, and respect for countless reasons. We found common ground in many things aside from the Web and our love for it. We also love God, our wives, outdoor hijinks, and a good brew. Kevin was inspirational for me to not only be hungry for professionalism, but also to be a better man.
We shook hands on starting a company some time ago, and spent nights and weekends coming up with a solid plan for ourselves. Given that we’re both extremely inspired by and focused on the Web (and the Web only), we wanted to devote a lot of time toward talking about the name and brand of our company. It was (honestly) on a paddle boat in New Hampshire when Kevin first spoke the name of our company: Iron to Iron.
The company name is a big deal to us, as it holds a meaning based in our founding principles. Proverbs 27:17 says:
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
We felt that this passage spoke directly to what we want to do with Iron to Iron. Neither of us wanted to head off on our own as a freelancer simply because we value what community has to offer so much. We not only want to work together to do great work, we want to hold each other accountable for being the men we were put here to be, both at work and at home.
Kevin has (fantastically) written about on the name, the design, and the background of what we’re doing with Iron to Iron. I hope you’ll take the time to read, as the article does a great job in describing what Iron to Iron came from.
We couldn’t be more excited
Both Kevin and I are extremely thrilled to officially open shop on November 1, 2010. We launched the site last week and the reception you all showed us is more than mind-blowing. We read each and every comment on the site (even the negative) and appreciate the time you’ve all given us so much, thank you.
I’d like to thank my wife, Carrie, for all of her undying support in this crazy experience over the past year. I’d also like to thank both Kevin and his wife for being the people they are and also having faith in this gigantic endeavor of ours. I’d like to thank all of our family as well, we couldn’t have asked for a better support network as all the details were worked out, we really appreciate it. I also can’t make it an inch without thanking the Web design community as a whole. The group established there is one of inspirational camaraderie and we’re so thankful for that.
The Web Community will definitely follow you guys.
Congrats man, I really dig the name. Also, this guys last name ^^^.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Christopher, Jonathan Christopher, JR Tashjian, Jake Przespo, Kevin Richardson and others. Kevin Richardson said: The other side of the story: https://jonchristopher.us/2010/10/25/iron-to-iron/ (via @jchristopher) […]
Jon, a dozen congratulations and a hundred high fives to you and your comrade! I’ve enjoyed getting to know the both of you at our monthly Build Guild gatherings (shameless plug to all other readers — http://buildguild.org). You’ve converted me from a silly little Nikon guy to a Canon efficienato in less than 6 months, one of the non-web related commonalities between us.
You’re doing what I’ve long dreamed of doing, and have nearly done several times now. It’s a huge encouragement to see others stepping out in faith. It is guys like the two of you (and hopefully me soon) that will be shaping the future of our great industry and will be separating the wheat from the chaff professionally.
God bless as you start hitting the streets, your next brew is on me!
Awesome man, congrats! Big step of faith, very cool. I hope many blessings come to you and Kevin through this new endeavor. Also hope you guys are able to bless tons of people through building relationships with clients that you care about and love. Looking forward to keeping an eye on things. =)
Greetings Monday By Noon Readers,
It is with great pleasure and joy that I post this message! I am actually Jonathan’s wife Carrie and wanted to post on MBN for the first time ever to express my utmost excitement for the launch of Iron to Iron ….I have always been a HUGE fan of MBN but some technical web talk has been over my head for quite some time now, hence this being my 1st post! =)
First off I’d like to thank the Web community assuming that most of you are reading this blog. Thank you all for being such devoted readers and such great resources for Jonathan! I know he’s learned so much from this supportive web community. Many thanks for all your input and kind feedback!!
Secondly, I wanted to express how proud I am of my husband! 😉 Jonathan is someone who pours his heart and soul into all that he does. He is such a committed, hardworking and talented Web Developer. I am so proud & blessed to be his wife and am confident that by God’s will Iron to Iron will be extremely successful!! He deserves to fulfill his dreams more anyone I know and I am so happy to help and cheer him on!
Thirdly, I wanted to thank our beloved friends Kevin & Jen Richardson for taking a leap of faith with us on this exciting journey! Kevin is an incredibly talented designer, and Jen a supportive wonderful wife, is a team that we are blessed to have. This endeavor would be impossible without you both by our side.
Thanks again Web community for keeping Iron to Iron in your thoughts & prayers! =) Grateful for all your support!
Congratz man! The name of your company rocks and it looks like a solid design.
This is awesome! Great to hear that a new web company is opening up in Troy. I’d love to hear more about it, if I ever make it to Build Guild. 🙂
[…] So, you would think the birth of your first child would be enough change for any one couple to take on, but nope we decided a while back that it was time for another change as well. Today is Kev’s last day of work. He gave his notice about a month ago at the company he worked for here in Albany. Starting this Monday, he will be working full time at his very own Web Design company, Iron to Iron. The idea started formulating a while back, but over the last few months it was clear it had to become a reality. He is not doing this alone. He is joining forces with a super talented developer, Jon Christopher. Jon is not only a good friend but we consider him and his wife Carrie part of our family. I could not be more proud of the two of them. They have worked so hard for the last few months getting this all started. They are the most talented duo I know and I know will make such a great team. Kev will be handling all design aspects and Jon the development. Here are some screen shots of their new website. The site is just beautiful. Kev is so talented. He never ceases to amaze me with where he gets ideas from to create such amazing designs. To read more about their new venture you can read Kev’s article on his personal website or Jon’s article on his personal website. […]
Congratulations, that’s a big jump to take. I like how you included a bit of your personal backstory as well; I’m sure many people can relate, and you are no doubt inspiring others to go take the leap themselves 🙂
Also, you guys have built a beautiful site. I’m sure I’ll come across your guys’ work at some point in the future. Best of luck!
[…] go ahead and say that I literally have no idea where the past year went. Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of Iron to Iron. I’d like to talk about that year. The ups, the downs, the people involved, […]
I just now read this post with the explanation behind the “Iron to Iron” name…love that. It must be so wonderful to have a good friend working side by side with you! You guys are a true inspiration in both your talent and your bold expression of your faith. Congrats again on all of your success!