The partner spotlight is a weekly series where we go behind the scenes with some of the companies that make VendorDB great. Next up is Wildebeest!

MDR

The Vitals

Name: Wildebeest
Location: Marina del Rey, CA
Partners: Ran Craycraft, Kevin Ng, and Ian Florentino
Year Founded: 2014
Specialties: Prototyping & Web App Development

What inspired you to start your company?

Have you tried hiring a developer in LA? It sucks. After having the great opportunity to lead North Kingdom as Managing Director, I was in the right place at the right time and connected with a couple of great developers who shared the idea that great products don’t need giant budgets, huge teams, and long timelines. Our company is built with the industry in mind–working fast, local, smart, and affordably.

Why Marina del Rey?

We’re a new company, bootstrapping, starting from scratch, so we needed something affordable and humble. But we also wanted a space where the team would feel comfortable putting in long hours and still have room to grow. We got lucky and found a great space (on Craigslist!)

What was the first job someone hired you for?

Our first job was actually great–the client was amazing and we’ve gone on to work on three projects with the same team. The first project was a prototype for an SMS-based customer support platform called Teckst. Our team handled the design, front-end, and back-end for the product that’s aiming to rid the world of customer support phone calls.

Who is your most interesting staff member?

When building the company, we were greatly inspired by Active Theory. We’re huge fans of their work and the culture they created. Like them, it’s our goal to ensure the whole team gets under the hood and touches code. That in mind, everyone in the office is a full-stack developer with at least one other super-power.

One of our partners, Ian Florentino is worth mentioning because of his super-power. He’s a young gun that picks up new technologies so quickly that I have no doubt he’s going to be a major player in our industry. His super power? Crooked pinkies at the perfect angle to give him more keyboard coverage on the important keys than mere mortals. Efficiency.

What is your biggest challenge at the moment?

As a new business, we have lots of challenges. Our biggest is probably choosing the right projects. Knowing what to take on and what to pass on is delicate, absolutely critical, and pretty terrifying sometimes.

This is an MVP we built called Iffy. It’s a mood-based layer on top of Yelp that gives you a single, great recommendation

This is an MVP we built called Iffy. It’s a mood-based layer on top of Yelp that gives you a single, great recommendation

What do you make of the trend where brands are skipping their agency of record to work directly with production partners?

AOR’s are endangered, but I don’t think they’re going anywhere. If a creative team isn’t pulling its weight, there’s another agency or production house in line who will. Inevitably though, big brands need creative teams they can trust and afford. It’s cyclical, but there’s room enough for an AOR and independent creative teams both driving innovation together–one big, passive-aggressive family.

What is the best thing about working at Wildebeest?

You can paddleboard to work. Our office is a boathouse on the end of a pier in the Marina, so the only distractions we have are barking seals and the occasional guest pelican.

Where is the best bar in Marina del Rey?

That’s a tough one–not a ton of options in Marina. We tend to go out to Venice or sometimes Playa del Rey. Venice is kind of predictable, but in Playa, we like diving at the Prince O’ Whales or Mo’s.

What does the future look like for Wildebeest?

We’re a team of five now. The plan is to grow slowly and intentionally–maybe a person or two per year. We’re very excited for the future and hope it’s a lot like our first few months–working with creative entrepreneurs, agencies, and dev shops to build great products for the web.

Killer, the intern

You can learn more about Wildebeest on VendorDB and at wildebee.st.