Customer Portrait: Travis Safford shares how his job at Giant Robot Engine makes him a better person
Ever wonder how other FreshBooks customers run a business? Customer portraits connect you with your fellow FreshBooks peers to share guidance and inspiration.
“My job makes me a better person.”
That’s not something we usually get to hear too often. And yet, that is exactly how Travis Safford of Giant Robot Engine in Seattle feels about his work. The company’s name seems fitting given the multitude of tasks they handle as a technical consulting company. Aside from staying on the cutting edge of technology, Travis appreciates the art of communication that is necessary in running a business and in life.
What is Giant Robot Engine?
Giant Robot Engine is a technical consulting company. We think of ourselves as a catalyst. The web is an overwhelmingly complex place; technology is excelling at speeds beyond what anyone expected. As a result, many business owners and larger companies have a difficult time keeping up. This is where we come in. We offer more than 50 different services to businesses all over the United States. We develop websites using CMS solutions like WordPress, build social media assets, perform SEO, analytics, keyword research, graphic design, U.I. development, penetration testing, PPC management, hardware and software acquisitions and upgrades, creative consulting, branding, and more. These services are all aimed at helping our clients gain the online presence they need, and learn how to continue to build on their own.
Did you do something similar before this?
I have worked with many large corporations, including UPS, Sprint, and Amazon. I also spent years as a field technician, and even ran a mortgage company prior to the great economic fallout. My forays into the corporate world gave me the motivation to branch out on my own. To put it simply, I grew weary of earning money for everyone else. After a long and tiresome search, I found a business partner, Roseymay Gran, and together we formed Giant Robot Engine.
Were there big surprises in running your own business?
Any business owner who tells you they haven’t had any surprises simply hasn’t been in business that long. There are always unexpected situations that arise. These situations, while they may seem inconvenient at the time, are crucial to helping you grow as an entrepreneur and as an individual. I welcome the challenge, and as a technology company, we find ourselves having to grow and adapt along with the industry. Our biggest surprise to date had to be when we landed our first famous client and secured a contract helping them promote a reality television show on a major cable network.
What’s a typical day at your company?
A typical day at our company starts with freshly ground coffee beans from a local roaster in a French Press. Following that we wade through the barrage of emails we received overnight. Rose and I will meet in the office, which is a spacious room in our home with a beautiful, lush greenbelt facing us through the bay windows. We then do our morning briefing; We talk about clients, tasks to be completed, prioritize jobs and then formulate our plan for the work day. A few days a week I am out meeting with clients and finalizing contracts, the other days I am at the office writing code, working on a new design, conferencing calling, strategizing or filling up whiteboards with diagrams.
What do you love about your job?
I love the satisfaction I get from doing right by my clients. In this day and age, it seems that many businesses have forgotten how important integrity really is. I love that I have so many opportunities to help people reach new heights. It’s also really nice to do something for a living that I have always wanted to do. I got my first computer when I was 13. I wrote my first piece of software when I was 14. I have been surrounded by electronic devices of all types since that time, but primarily computers. As a technical consultant it’s my job to test out new hardware, software, and Internet technologies as they emerge. My mind is constantly being put through its paces and it keeps me razor sharp, which is possibly the best benefit of all. I am also a big fan of all the communication required to complete projects, as I think that communication is the cornerstone of any relationship. My job makes me a better person.
For Travis, communication is key and it extends beyond his work. How does your job make you a better person?