We love getting to work with interesting and diverse business owners. In this small business spotlight series, we would like to introduce you to some of them.
Today we’ll be hearing from Troy at Gearbox, a web development studio that is really starting to take off!
Gearbox is a development company that works with agencies by looking after the front-end development portion of building web sites. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, so after listening to it described a few times, I came up with a short explanation that I can understand: they do the coding so that web sites work properly and look good doing it.
For a way better explanation and actual demonstration of what they do, check out their website. I love the aesthetic; you can tell these guys love what they do and they’re good at it!
Who Are They?
Troy McGinnis is one of the co-founders of Gearbox. Troy grew up in Courtenay but now lives in Victoria and operates the West Coast office of Gearbox.
Growing up in a rural setting, Troy became interested in video games and coding. He learned to code early on by building choose-your-own-adventure stories in QBasic with his sister.
Fast-forward a number of years, Troy has found a niche, building websites for agencies, where those skills are in high demand.
Gearbox the dev studio was born when Troy joined forces with Pierre Verrier in early 2018.
This is Pierre and Bayou. I met Pierre for the first time on a trip to Winnipeg last May at a great little brewery called the Little Brown Jug. Pierre is friendly and has excellent taste in food and beer. I asked for a recommendation of where to go for dinner in Winnipeg and got about a dozen suggestions!
Like Troy, Pierre has some serious design and development skills plus industry experience to back it up.
Pierre has lived in both Victoria and Winnipeg but is currently stuck with a Manitoba license plate. We’ll continue to work on it and see if we can get him back out West!
Gearbox has recently brought on another partner, Devin Edwards. Devin loves front-end development, games with friends and being immature with his kids. He’s a natural fit for the Gearbox group!
Born and raised in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, his first experience learning to work with computers was with his father who taught himself to code by building an accounting inventory system in QBasic for his steelyard!
After graduating from B.C.I.T, Devin moved to Victoria to start his career in the web world and make babies with his wife, Jesse. He’s never looked back, and now has 2 beautiful kids and a growing business with Gearbox.
Kirk Morris is Gearbox employee numero uno. Kirk brings creativity, enthusiasm and coding skillz to the team.
At a young age, Kirk received a copy of Zelda: The Oracle of Seasons for Gameboy Colour. The little square screen gave Kirk inspiration and the realization that he wanted to make games of his own.
Kirk dove in at Byte Camp, a summer camp that teaches kids coding. The enthusiasm stayed with him and he ended up as an instructor there 7 years later.
Now you can find Kirk doing excellent work at Gearbox and making cool stuff through his own projects.
Please introduce yourself. What is your name?
What is one trait or quirk you possess that not many people know? For example, Paul can't stand the smell of honey and Joe hoards cups at his desk on a regular basis.
I can make lots of weird noises like water drop sounds.
What is the name of your business?
How did you get started with Gearbox? Tell us a bit about how you got the idea and what it took to get that idea launched.
I saw a gap in the market and the need for something different – or just better. So I started offering my services as a "freelancer" under the guise of a business called Gearbox. I brought on a partner. And then another. And then hired a FT dev. And here we are, in high demand, making the world go 'round.
We like to think of the entrepreneur's journey as a road map. In which of stage would you say Gearbox currently exists?
FOCUS - Now that you're launched, it's time to hone in on the best product / market / fit for your business.
What are your biggest challenges in your current stage?
Balancing time, relinquishing control, explaining to our customers how we operate and what we are.
What aspects of being a business owner make the challenges worthwhile?
Watching the machine grow. Watching people flock to you and your idea, your business, your offering – validating your purpose.
What is the next goal or milestone for your business? Or, another way to put it is where would you like to see Gearbox in 2 years?
Lots of devs, lots of awesome projects and people, less dev and management on the partners' end, more focus on avenues of growth.
If you could name one tool that your business uses that has made the biggest positive impact, what tool would that be?
Harvest. Or Slack. Or both.
The folks at Gearbox are building a business with intention, and their hard work and planning is really starting to show results.
If you’re interested learning a bit more, you can check out Joe’s podcast episode with Troy - it is highly edutaining! Or you can reach out to them directly via their website.