E5: Hiring Ex-cons, Naptime, and Fortune 100 Clients with Mike Gellman

Today’s guest is Michael Gellman. He’s the founder and CEO of Spire Digital, a Denver-based firm that transforms business through design and technology. He founded the firm almost 20 years ago, and it moved quickly from a startup to a successful company that currently has 50 employees. He provides software development and strategic consulting to everyone from small startups to large companies, including some big names. In addition to his work at Spire, Michael is a published author, a traveler, an active philanthropist, and a self-proclaimed entrepreneurial nerd.

Some of the topics we’ll talk about today include

  • Why Michael started Spire and how it transitioned from monster movie to digital agency. Michael also shares how he got his first client and what he did to get more clients.
  • Why Michael hired ex-cons and how it worked out.
  • How he got a $450,000 deal as a fairly new company.
  • Why Michael has a laid-back philosophy when it comes to telecommuting, unlimited PTO, and napping.
  • A few of the clients that Spire works with, including Fifty Cent, Toys R Us, David Letterman, and many more.
  • An explanation of the dot com boom and bust, and how marketing and technology has changed since the turn of the century.
  • Some thoughts on what Michael might be doing differently from those who have not been successful in their startups. One tip is to never eat lunch alone; meet with people (clients, competitors, clients, employees… just about anyone!) every day of the week.
  • What’s exciting Michael about Spire today and where he thinks the trends are leading Spire and the industry as a whole.
  • The lightning round: the best advice Michael has ever received, his personal habits, Internet resources that he recommends, a book recommendation.

Links and Resources
Michael Gellman
Mike on Twitter
Spire Digital
Spire on Twitter
Troma
Slack
Trello
Lucidchart
The Lean Startup
Practices of an Agile Developer
Lean Software Development
The Four Steps to Epiphany
Extreme Programming Explained
Predictable Revenue

Quotes by Michael: 

“My mantra is ‘always be good in every way.’”

“I don’t care when you work or how you work, as long as you do a good job.”

“If you’re going to survive, you have to continuously get better at what you do.”

Tools & Resources