Starter Stories: Matt Brown, Founder of Haulix

Haulix

If you are unsure of what career path to jump into, go work at an unfavorable job for a year or so.

Back in the late ’90s, mine was at a factory in Winona, Minnesota. We welded frames that are used to suspend neon lights on the walls of bars. Very exciting indeed, but all sarcasm aside, we would have to stand at our welding machine for hours on end. The work was dirty, monotonous, and my arms would get burnt from discharged fire pellets. An hour or so into my shift, all I would smell was a mixture of welding fumes and burnt skin.  The working movements would eventually become second nature and time was spent thinking, which soon evolved into deep soul searching.

By that time, the dot-com bubble was in full effect and I took a liking to computers. To me, the thought of sitting in a clean office cubicle would be a dream come true, and the direct opposite of what I was used to at the welding job.  I decided to move to the Twin Cities and enroll in community college for Computer Science.  I wanted to dive in head first but also keep my education costs down and so a two-year program seemed a perfect fit for me.

While in college, I could tell I was headed in the right direction because the material I was studying was exciting to me.  The passion dug so deep, I was working on building websites outside of school on my own time. I was like a sponge, always reading programming and design books, trying to soak up as much information as possible.

Alongside computers, music continued to play a huge role in my life. I played the drums throughout my school years and later in a couple cover bands. A year into college, I was working with a friend who introduced me to the world of metal music outside of what was mainstream in the U.S.  I quickly became hooked.  There was so much to discover and an endless amount of new material getting released each month!

We got to thinking one day back then, why not start a project that involved computer programming, graphic design, and our love of [metal] music?  MetalReview.com was soon born.  It was sort of a “blog” before blogs were commonplace.  Buddies and I found it amazing that record labels would send us promo CDs before an album was released so that we could review them and have readers from all over the globe have faith in our opinions.

That one website continued to blossom and grow.  It was the centerpiece alongside my degree in job interviews — and was actually the deciding factor that landed me a few of my first Web Developer jobs.  I ended up running the site for over a decade and it would end up linking me to my next venture, which was a digital promo software company named Haulix.

The moral of the story, career paths are never a straight line.  Back in 1998 while standing next to that welding machine, if a genie would have told me 11 years later I would create a tech company that would bring in millions of dollars, I wouldn’t have believed it.  That goes to say, never give up and accept the fact that your path to success will come with many twists and turns.  If you are thinking of giving up, realize that the glorious finish line might unknowingly be right around the corner.

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