Following the Path – Dev to Founder – Darin Herle
Excited to welcome Darin Herle to the BuildBetter blog today. Darin has a knack for building stuff. At age 5 he built his own rocket. At 10 he took apart the family lawn mower and reassembled it. At 19 he built a device to hack into his school’s voicemail system.
This later turned into a passion for creating and selling new technology. Today, Darin is a Co-Founder at Trackmeet, a SaaS meeting productivity tool in use by teams worldwide.
Darin’s Dev to Founder Story
I’ve had an interesting career path, to say the least.
I’ve been a…
Technical Marketing Engineer
Product Marketing Engineer
Co-Founder (and Software Engineer again!)
…in this exact order.
Now, in many of these roles, I actually performed many of the tasks from the previous positions, so if you think that all sales managers do is manage sales people, you’d be wrong. (I actually wrote a pile of APEX code to customize our SalesForce instance in that position!)
Along the way, one of the startups I was with was acquired for $550M by Intel. And I did an MBA. And traveled for business way too much.
Anyways, you’re probably wondering how all this happened.
I graduated from the University of Victoria with a B. Eng. in Computer Engineering in 2000. I did internships with Nortel (now defunct!) in Ottawa, the Joint Astronomy Center in Hawaii and Ericsson in Stockholm. I wrote software for the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea.
I entered the job market at a pretty lucky time – the middle of the dot-com era. I moved to Silicon Valley with my fiancée, joining a startup (VxTel) making SoC (system-on-a-chip) integrated circuits for VoIP networks. I was responsible for writing embedded C code that ran on the SoC and performed call setup and teardown using MGCP/H.248.
We were acquired by Intel in 2001, and I spent the next 5 years working in different roles inside this large tech giant. I moved from network software development to writing test code for large scale Flash memory testers. Seeking to expand my knowledge of the semiconductor business and hopefully take on a management role, I applied to and was accepted to do a (part-time) MBA at the University of California at Davis. At the same time, this allowed me to move from a technical to a marketing role, and I started working with customers as a technical marketing engineer. I traveled to, and worked with all the major handset vendors in Asia, helping them implement file system software on Intel flash memory.
With the birth of our first child, options vested and MBA complete, it was time to move home. So we (by this time my fiancée had turned into my wife) packed our things, said farewell (but not goodbye!) to all our American friends and headed back to Victoria, BC.
Never satisfied with my current role and always curious, I accepted a job as a Sales Executive for Latitude Geographics, at the time a small software company.
I had zero sales experience.
I spent the next year cold calling organizations all over North America, traveling to conferences and meeting with customers.
Initially, I was pretty horrible at selling. But… I got better. I took on more sales territory and eventually became the head of our sales organization, transitioning into a leadership role. During this time, we went from 20 people to 140 people. (I wrote a Quora article that goes over this part of my career in more detail.)
I didn’t really hit it out of the park as a leader, either. But, in time, I also got better at that too. (See a pattern?)
I got bored in my role as VP of Sales, so I contemplated next steps. The founders at Latitude Geographics were experiencing pain in meetings as the company grew (no accountability, little visibility, etc.) and we couldn’t find a compelling solution in the marketplace to solve it. So we decided to build it. That product is Trackmeet and I’m one of its founders.