Visiting the SpeakerCave

I just got back from an epic journey to a place so manly that Hercules himself would probably be impressed.  I visited team SpeakerText!

SpeakerText is a true blue startup that I joined a few months ago.  We create interactive transcripts for online video which, in addition to providing some pretty great functionality for media consumers, also makes it possible for publishers to get their video content cataloged in search engines (“Video SEO on Steroids”).

The visit was awesome – the team is made up of three guys living in an un-air-conditioned 2 bedroom Pittsburgh apartment plus some people like me who visit whenever they get a chance.  At the cave, shirts are worn less often than pants and it is common practice to remove clothing before meeting new people.  Even before visiting I had already picked up some nice new habits — yammer being the most fun of them — but actually living there really pushed the envelope.

Here are just a few of the things I learned:

  • How to use a Mac for dev work (i.e. how awesome TextMate is)
  • How to send bananas (i.e. how to use git)
  • Bieba time.
  • Why Jacob is Better than Edward.
  • That saying someone is a “smooth talker” doesn’t mean they are a charismatic and intelligent individual.  Apparently it implies that he will do something like try to steal your wallet.
  • I get more awkward than usual around MacArthur Genius Grant recipients.
  • Good startups build strong friendships.

Some of the things on this list make it seem like SpeakerText is actually made up of a bunch of 14 year old girls, and I guess that’s entirely possible.  Nevertheless it was an amazing time and the visit made me realize that it is possible to work on a team without feeling like you are working for someone else.  It also forced me to really and truly think about whether or not MIT is what I want to do for the next two years.

While trying to convince me to ditch MIT, team ST asked some really important questions (what do I want to get out of grad school, what do I want to do with my life, etc.) which honestly I hadn’t fully thought through before.  I got there thinking that it wasn’t even a decision, but by the end I was able to treat it like one.  This was the first time I have faced two completely different paths both of which I could take, embrace, and love.

The entire thought process deserves it’s own post, but I can share the conclusion here: despite the greatness of the team and ideas behind SpeakerText I remain steadfast in my current plans.  That being said, I know that I’m going to be missing out on some once-in-a-lifetime stories and experiences by staying on the east coast while they drive to the other side of the country in a UHaul at the end of the month.

Also. We watched Twilight.

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