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It’s a small, small world. March 12, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Life, Okapi.
1 comment so far

There are those times in life when everything just comes together in one moment. All the planets line up, there is a lunar eclipse, etc… Things that seem totally random, but they can’t be! And that is what this little story is about.

The first amazing Flash site that I ever saw (a lot of them sucked back then) was back in 2002. It was nikeskateboarding.com, V1 (they’re in V2 now). I was 13 years old, and had never, ever seen anything like it. I had an actual “experience” with a website. It was, by a long shot, the best looking website I had ever seen (later to be dethroned by Rob Lindstrom’s work). I spent a lot of time on that site, seeing everything that could be done, and finally found the credits for it. The makers: odopod, a small design studio in San Francisco.

Thanks to nikeskateboarding.com, I dove into Flash and never looked back. I spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours learning the interface, animation, and most of all, ActionScript. After becoming a half decent at Flash (I thought I was good at it, until I found out how much more I had to learn :D), I sent odopod an email telling them about how much of an inspiration they were to me and asking if they had any tips for becoming a better ActionScripter. They were really nice (probably because I told them I was 15) and we emailed back and forth a couple of times. In one of the emails, they told me if I was ever in San Francisco, I could stop by and take a tour of the shop. I was happier than a kid in a candy shop.

Fast forward to MacWorld ’04 (maybe ’05, not sure though): my aunt Martha had gotten my brother and I tickets to the SF MacWorld. We were excited for it, and I was even more stoked when I realized I could finally take odopod up on their invitation to tour their shop. I sent them an email letting them know I was going to be in town, and I got their cell phone numbers.

My brother and I took BART in to SF for MacWorld. At lunch time, I gave odopod a call and got directions on how to walk from Moscone Center to their office. I made it there and got a great tour of the shop. I met everyone who was behind the magic of nikeskateboarding, and they even let me see some of their current projects (nikesoccer.com was one). It was great, definitely one of the most memorable moments of my life. I went home and was determined to become one of the best Flash developers ever (I think I got pretty far).

Two years later, I met Andrei Ostacie, owner of Okapi Studio, from a Craigslist ad. There was one problem though: Okapi is based in Bucharest, Romania. At first I was reluctant to work with designers outside of the US, but their work was better than anyone else’s that had responded to my ad by miles. I started working with Okapi in December 2005, and we quickly came to like each other. In March, 2006, I became their US Account Manager, in charge of the North American clients (we have clients from Russia, England, Italy, and Romania).

In August of 2006, I got an email from Andrei asking me to talk to a prospective client that was based out of Mountain View, CA. Andrei apparently gave them my cell phone number, so they called me while I was getting my car fixed. I told them I would call back. When I got home, I immediately Googled this client’s name and found out he was in management at Yahoo!… I ended up driving down to Mountain View, and we got the account: MonVia. Our first job was to create a home page design for Drumtable. We went through several drafts, failing each time. Finally, Mani emailed me some screenshots of a Yahoo! site that was being redesigned; Y! Tech.

The designs looked really, really familiar… Okapi’s next round of deliverables were right on the mark.

A week or so later, I was going though odopod’s site (I do from time to time, just to see what they’re up to). I saw a little thumbnail on the bottom left of something that looked like Y! Tech, so I clicked on it. It took me to the detailed portfolio page, and sure enough, odopod was responsible for the redesign of Y! Tech.

There must be a God 😀