If you were looking for a job in the tech industry, you would probably look out west to Silicon Valley, right? What if I told you that there are big opportunities coming to the Midwest, including in our great city of Milwaukee?
We had Glenn Reid on The GoGedders Podcast. Glenn got his start during Silicon Valley’s Golden Era when many of the tech giants that we all know today were just taking their first steps. Glenn has an impressive resume:
- Was one of the first employees at Adobe back in 1985
- Worked under Steve Jobs at Apple, designing and creating iMovie and iPhoto 1.0
- Founded a company called 5 Across in the early 2000s, which specialized in creating network software, a company he sold to Cisco in 2007
- Started his company Marathon Machines here in Milwaukee
- Co-founder of The Valley Institute, which hopes to make Milwaukee a hub for technology and innovation.
We had a great discussion about the evolution of Silicon Valley, what it was like working for Steve Jobs and Apple and NeXT, why he chose Milwaukee, and many great tips for those interested in the tech industry or entrepreneurship.
“It’s hard to describe, but I like beleaguered companies. I like unsuccessful companies. Not failed companies, but ones that are still trying to achieve success," Glenn said on our podcast. "Part of it is the people there with you, they have a battle to fight or something to prove; you’re trying to get something to work. When you are already successful, people come to your company because you’re successful … they’re withdrawing from the bank instead of depositing into it."
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, people were drawn to Silicon Valley in order to be a part of all the ideas that were being shared and to develop their own ideas. People were willing to – and often did – risk it all on an idea. Everyone wanted to be on board the next big company. It was like springtime for the tech industry, and the excitement could be felt everywhere. Today, a very different crowd has taken over The Valley as it has shifted to many start-ups to many of the biggest companies in the world. Many relocate to The Valley for jobs that pay handsome salaries, less for the work.
“It was like the hot tub was filling up with the wrong people," Glenn said. "I was looking around me one day, and there are a lot of nice people here, but there is zero value. They’re not fired up or doing anything; they’re just collecting their paychecks and putting Apple on their resume. So I felt like … I have to get out of the hot tub, dry off and go somewhere else, so that was my third time quitting (Apple).”
This is where Milwaukee comes in. Not many out west would think of Milwaukee as an ideal city for tech businesses, but Glenn sees things a bit differently. After his final departure from Apple, Glenn decided he wanted to start his own company. He soon after started 5 Across, which later sold to Cisco. When Glenn was deciding where to start his next venture, Marathon Laundry Machines, he landed in Milwaukee for a multitude of reasons.
“Everybody gets it here," Glenn said. "There is a very pro manufacturing view of the world here, which is not true actually most places. The coasts in general, they fear making things and they fear big heavy things, but that is where the value is. America has to make stuff, and there is plenty of that happening here.”
Glenn also spoke to the fact that the people in the Midwest are very different from those on the coast. People are more willing to help their neighbors and peers here, they are more excited and driven, and people genuinely want to see you succeed. Out on the coasts, everyone is trying to bite each other’s heads off over spilled horchata.
Glenn’s laundry machine business might not sound as exciting as a new cell phone or television set, but they’re doing things their biggest competitors like Samsung and Whirlpool are not.
“It was fueled by the fact that it was a boring industry that no one was looking at – that was part of the appeal," Glenn said. "The idea came from literally seeing a magazine ad for a washer and dryer pair, and they looked exactly alike. I couldn’t tell which one was the washer and which one was the dryer, and I was like, 'Why are there two identical machines and each one does half the job – that doesn’t make any sense.'"
After workshopping the idea and figuring out how to make the idea work, Glenn has taken the concept to the market as a first of its kind. He believes that the software is what distinguishes his machines from more mainstream laundry machines that you likely have in your home
“(Other laundry machine companies) are mostly hardware companies, they don’t really get software. I do, and I think that gives us an incredible advantage," he noted.
If you want to hear more about Glenn Reid’s story, check out the podcast! You can find The GoGedders Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, or find us on our website at www.ggmm.io.