Ryan Woodings may not have expected to be the face of a leading tech startup in downtown Boise, but in MetaGeek’s 10th year in business, he’s grown into his position as CEO, and can be found representing MetaGeek as a leader in the tech community at events and speaking engagements throughout the Treasure Valley. “Being a geek, I tend to be more introverted,” Ryan explains, ”so it’s interesting to have these public spotlight moments. It’s very outside my normal day-to-day, but it’s fun, and in some ways, a little nerve-wracking.”
Ryan is, and has been for the last 10 years, dedicated to making MetaGeek a tech ambassador for Idaho. In 2015, MetaGeek was a sponsor of Hackfort, a tech event geared towards awareness of Boise as a thriving startup city.Hackfort gives prospective tech employees an insight into Boise and the tech community here.
In a story by KBOI 2 News about Hackfort, Ryan commented that attendees “can come to Treefort and Hackfort and see that ‘Hey, Boise is really cool!’ If they get a positive experience and see that there are tech companies here, it will be easier for them to consider Boise when they’re going for a job.” He acknowledged that Idaho isn’t always portrayed as the most open environment for people of all backgrounds, and he wants MetaGeek to help disprove that negative perception. “The tech industry in general is very progressive and accepting of different cultures and different lifestyles,” Ryan comments. “If Idaho doesn’t have that perception, it’s going to be hard for tech companies to recruit people from out of town.” He hopes that Hackfort and MetaGeek can help shake that reputation, and show people that Boise is a great place for tech. The more perceptions change, the easier it will be to recruit not only at MetaGeek, but at younger tech startups in Boise.
MetaGeek’s successes have not gone unnoticed by the local community. Built in Boise, an organization that highlights entrepreneurs, innovators, and visionaries in our city, sat down with Ryan last month to chat about the “Geek Life”, and how to establish a vision for your company by stepping back and asking “why does my company exist?”
“I wish I would have known earlier, and it took a long time to figure out the why of MetaGeek. I suppose I was scared to dig deep and stick with something. But once we did, it made things clear as far as what we are doing, and why…and it made other decisions easier.”
Ryan also elaborated on this “work should be awesome” purpose at a conference put on by the Idaho Technology Council, Develop.Idaho. While there, many speakers from the technology industry spoke about the challenges that tech companies face in Idaho. He specifically talked about how if businesses hire smartly, then awesomeness will result. You can learn more about that in his blog where he discusses How we Unsucked our Hiring Process.
While Ryan has positioned MetaGeek as a leader in Boise’s tech community, it wasn’t without its struggles. Ryan comes from a computer science background, not a business one; he had to learn how to be a CEO:
“When MetaGeek first started, it was just me in charge of strategy, design, implementation, and everything else, so if I had an idea, I was also in charge of turning that idea into a feature. In the last few years, we’ve built out a great team of coders. The first time as CEO that I had an idea for a cool Chanalyzer feature, I told Adam, and he turned my idea into action. You can get so much more done with a great team behind you.”
Within the past year, Ryan and his leadership team have implemented SCRUM, an agile development process, in every department at MetaGeek. SCRUM wasn’t an original idea, but taken from Jeff Sutherland, and adjusted to fit with MetaGeek’s culture and business model. It has allowed the company to maximize productivity, synchronize teams, and make work more transparent. Ryan is continuously changing things up, borrowing from others’ ideas and trying new things, in this case, he doesn’t have a problem following what Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists copy, and great artists steal”.
MetaGeek has enjoyed impressive growth and success in the last ten years, but what is in the startup’s future? “We’ve been on this journey for the last couple of years. Eventually we need to diversify,” explains Ryan in a May 4th, 2015 article published by the Idaho Business Review. In the article, Ryan describes the birth of the MetaGeek brand and its flagship product, Wi-Spy. Wi-Spy, used with inSSIDer Office or Chanalyzer software, was the original low-cost, portable spectrum analyzer for Wi-Fi troubleshooting.
But Ryan knows that for a company to survive, it must adapt to changing markets. “We want to be here in 10 years, and we don’t think the Wi-Fi tools will still be in the market for 10 years,” he explained. In a few years, you might see MetaGeek as a few different companies in different markets, but the company’s “why” will stay consistent: “We think work should be awesome, and we want a place that we love coming to, with a team we love, and we want to help other people do that too.”