My name is John Rokos. I moved my company and family to Longmont about 25 days ago. Prior to Longmont we were residing in Silicon Valley. I had been there for a little over eight years. Nearly six of those years were spent at Tesla Motors, the electric car company.
I had an amazing career there and was able to make some major contributions that were the foundation, if not still the systems and processes they use today, to run the company and interact with customers.
Inspired by Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, and all the incredible people I worked with there at Tesla, and filled with ideas of my own that had been nagging at me for years, I decided to strike out on my own about 2 years ago. The project I finally chose was creating a news aggregation platform.
To explain what one of these news aggregators are, also referred to as RSS News Aggregators, they allow you to subscribe to your favorite websites and they pull together, all in one place, all the updates and news stories from these sites, instead of you having to go to each site individually and scroll through the new content only to stop when you see something that looks familiar.
The Longmont Compass would be an example of one of these sites as it is constantly updated with content all day every day, and it has one of these RSS feeds. So, for example, I could subscribe to the Longmont Compass, Wired Magazine, the New York Times, the Denver Post, a cooking blog,… and an endless number of other websites. And all their new articles get pulled together, aggregated, into your one Mosaiscope feed. You can even mark articles as read so the next time you come back your Mosaiscope you know exactly where you left off and what’s new.
I chose this news aggregation platform project, as many entrepreneurs do, out of my own frustration with what currently existed. Similar products either let you subscribe to either just specific sources OR just general topics. I wanted a platform that could do both. And, with that inspiration and direction to make something better I created my company, Enemy Tree, LLC, and our first product, Mosaiscope.
Nearly a year-and-a-half was put into getting the project started in a significant way. From just having basic conversations with friends, and friends of friends, to building the vocabulary I needed to fined the people I was looking for and getting to the solutions I was hoping for, to finding the actual developers & designers to make the idea reality. At that point we started on Mosaiscope.
Many months later, after many iterations of the product during development, we finally launched Mosaiscope.com. Initially it was just the web app version, available at www.mosaiscope.com. There, you could, on any device as long as you have a web browser and an internet connection, create an account and sign in to start subscribing to either specific sources you want to follow online (again, like the Longmont Compass), or general topics of interest (like the topic of “Longmont_CO” that we have). We even have a store built into the platform so you can browse both topics and sources. But we don’t stop there, because if there is a specific source you want to follow but you don’t see it in the store, all that needs to be done is to copy the URL from that website and paste it into Mosaiscope’s search and we will scour their website to find the RSS feed and allow you to subscribe to it. Most of the time we can find the news feed, other times it takes a bit more detective work on the individual’s part to find the specific URL for the RSS feed before we can set up the subscription.
Just a few weeks later we finished the Apple iOS app version of the product and added it to the Apple App Store, which allows for a beautiful, native, app experience on any Apple iOS mobile device – from iPhone to iPad Pro.
At this point I found myself with a product that was gaining users like crazy, a business that was growing just as fast, and a dilemma of what to do next. The developers I found and am working with are located in Wisconsin. The PR and Marketing firm I work with are located in Los Angeles. Both are contractors at the moment and the only “official” employee of the startup is me. I could see that the business was growing so fast that there is a strong likelihood we were going to add actual employees in the next 6-12 months and, considering the many issues I had trying to find local talent in Silicon Valley (most people I talked to there – with expectations set by local companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter… – wanted incredible sums of compensation even to think about joining the company… something not possible with my budget) only to end up finding people elsewhere in the country, I needed to make a choice. Where did I really want to live and grow the company?
This started the search for where to move for the next phase of the company’s existence. Immediately, four locations came to the top of the list: Boulder County Colorado, Portland Oregon, Seattle Washington, or Austin Texas. Very quickly the search narrowed to just Boulder County Colorado.
A combination of my love of outdoor activities, especially activities in the mountains, plus access to a huge talent pool that the area provides made this the main target. On top of that, the local field narrowed to Longmont just as quickly. Things like great infrastructure – good schools, NextLight… – affordable housing and office space, and quality people in a quality community made Longmont the logical choice.
I have now been here approximately 25 days, the business is growing faster than ever, and as I work from my home office I see the growth leading to my need to tap into the local talent pool to grow it beyond what it is already achieving over the next year.
I’m so happy to be a part of the Longmont community. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to tell a little bit of my story here on the Longmont Compass, and I hope you will give our product, Mosaiscope, a try, either at www.mosaiscope.com or by downloading the app from the Apple App Store. Maybe you will even subscribe to the Longmont Compass and other local news sources, as well as any other sources that are part of what you read on a daily basis online, through Mosaiscope. We have worked very hard to make it an amazing experience and have way more on the drawing board that should excite users for years to come.
Thank you, Longmont, for being so welcoming. We look forward to a long and growing business in the local area and look forward to meeting many of you out in the parks and on the mountain. Here’s to a great 2016!