Sep 13, 2021
We are the Product
👋 Hi, my name is Avi.
If you’re anything like me, you wanted to be an inventor when you grew up. To you, inventors were real-world superheroes, magicians even. Through determination and triumph over failure, they could shape the future by bringing their imaginations to fruition. Your favorite examples were not the ones with beginner’s luck, but those that persevered tirelessly, honing their skills, guided by their desire to make a difference. As you’ve grown older you’ve searched for the inventor within you by embracing your creativity cooking in the kitchen, photographing premiere music festivals, and skiing powder lines through the trees. Through all of this and more, you have found yourself to be the most inventive while at the edge of your comfort zone. You know that feeling well - the feeling of being thrust into the unknown and the terror, excitement, and adrenaline that comes from tackling a new challenge and taking a leap of faith. That sensation of fire you get throughout your body from learning something new and taking one stride closer to unlocking your own superhero is all the reward you need.
Finding the edge of my comfort zone
My Shepherd story started years ago when Danil and I became close friends in college. We developed a strong bond challenging ourselves to take our university’s hardest courses together and by applying our new knowledge to numerous entrepreneurial endeavors. When Danil became Shepherd’s first engineer earlier this year, it didn’t take long for him to reach out for me to join. I was hesitant. At the time, I was working at a Lake Tahoe-based startup that had grown from 50 to over 250 people in just the two years I had been there. Danil urged me to consider. Joining a seed-stage startup as founding engineers was a leap towards becoming founders ourselves. My Tahoe lifestyle was one I certainly cherished, but I couldn’t deny my ultimate goal. Once again, I found myself at the edge of my comfort zone.
Meeting the Shepherd founders, I realized I was in the presence of the superheroes of their respective industries. In learning their stories, it was evident that they were all here today because of the risks they had taken and how they had learned from them. Their experiences were the vehicles through which they acquired a tremendous skill set. Mo, Justin, and Steve told me their mission to drastically improve the safety and sustainability of construction. The mission, should I choose to accept it, would require a journey of personal growth of not only me but of the entire team. I told them of my goal to start a company one day and it suddenly became clear that Shepherd would be my vehicle to acquire the skills that I needed to achieve my own dreams. Being surrounded by industry all-stars and the opportunity to push my comfort zone again made this a proposition I couldn’t say no to.
We are the product
After nearly two months as a Shepherd founding engineer, I can say that the dream is real and does deliver. We are challenged with an ambitious mission but the diverse backgrounds and skills we bring together make this the team to do it. After a pandemic of remote work, our team huddles around the whiteboard evoke the sensation I had been missing. The feeling of true collaboration and breaking through the unknown with new ideas. Inventing can be a team sport after all! Our San Francisco office has become a home to incubate our ambition. Repeatedly we catch ourselves saying "there is magic in the room". Every day we show up with the guarantee of learning something new. I find delight in looking at my watch to note the time of our latest epiphany. To reinvent our industry, we must reinvent ourselves and have since come up with the phrase to remind each other. “We are the product”. Our product is only as good as we are. As a result, we are continuously iterating on ourselves and our process. I invite you to join our team and invent with us!
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