An Excerpt from the Book:
“Success is not about money: passion, purpose and continually striving for mastery
are what bring fulfillment in business.”
Jerry Stauder studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Missouri-Rolla. With his wife Angie, he cofounded Stauder Technologies in 1997 out of the basement of their home. The company initially focused on providing specialized targeting software for Marines growing revenue from $100,000 to more than $15 million in less than 20 years.
In 1986, my first job out of college was in the Astronautics Division at McDonnell Douglas. I started out as a systems engineer in flight test, where we experimented with and tested different sensors; this led to aircraft mission planning with the “Harrier AV-8B” airplane for the Marines. I loved it while I was there.
Although I was happy at McDonnell, I was approached by a former coworker who was looking for expertise at his new company. This afforded me the opportunity to learn a new technology and make a difference. As long as I can remember, I have always had the drive to improve or make things better.
So I jumped. In the mid-1990’s, I became a consultant for Edward Jones. In a time when the web was fairly new, I was an integral member of a group of five people who built their first customer-oriented website, including full integration with many of their back-end systems. Generally, engineers are given technical specifications, and then we build to those specifications. This was new enough that there was no model to follow – we had to work with marketing, compliance, IT, and others to determine what success looked like.
Most of the websites from that time focused on content at the expense of presentation, in part because the options for a strong visual punch were fairly primitive by today’s standards. We had to have both: it was critically important to have all of the financial information displayed correctly, but the page also had to connect the customer to his investment representative in an inviting way. We had to pull data from many different systems – a stock market quote feed, their back-end portfolio system, client information, and so on – it got complicated quickly. I found tremendous satisfaction coordinating with a group of people with widely different abilities and backgrounds to make a successful product and a happy customer. It was a great learning experience.
After about two years, our project with Edward Jones was in a good spot and was transitioning to a maintenance phase. As I was contemplating my next move, Boeing (which had purchased McDonnell Douglas) came calling. They had integrated a digital modem for the AV-8B – but the ground systems were not mature enough to work with that piece of equipment. They only had half a solution, which was effectively no solution at all.
So they approached me about how best to solve this problem. I was in a unique position with both knowledge of the aircraft as well as the systems integration that would be needed. Boeing was upfront that they only had enough money to fund the project for the first year; although there was some risk, I felt that I had a skill set of software engineering that was marketable should the whole thing flop.
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