Jonathan Woodard & Jared Kohlmann
“People are capable of doing so much more than they think they are. It’s a matter of finding your why. If your why is powerful enough, you can make yourself do it.”
We are here today with Jonathan Woodard and Jared Kohlmann. Jonathan is a Michigan native who studied Computer Science at U of M before moving to Boulder. He has tons of experience as a software developer and has founded several startups over the years. He is known around town for board games, paleo, and CrossFit. We will talk to him today about his role as the VP of Engineering at Rapt Media, his company Flightless, and Mobility on Demand.
I could interview Jonathan all day, but it is really interesting to talk to people about who they admire. Jonathan invited Jared, the owner of Pro Photo Rental, to meet with us today. The two met through a mutual friend here in Boulder, before completing the GORUCK Challenge together. Briana May worked with Jared at Pro Photo for years before branching out and starting her own photography company.
Sean to Jared: What are you, just a masochist?
“I am really into outdoor pursuits and one of those pursuits is mountaineering. Mountaineering is one of those things where you are pushing yourself to a limit. I would liken it to a balloon. You are always expanding your envelope of how much you can take. Not out of masochism, or something like that, but you’ve got to be hard to kill in the mountains. There is no turning back and going home. That started my exploration of what I am capable of, both mentally and physically. It isn’t a race; you are working together to achieve an objective. That really struck a chord with me and got me thinking about the teamwork aspect.”
Jonathan to Jared: How has that impacted the rest of your life?
“I think it gives you a lot of perspective. It is funny, because I use it both ways. Sometimes, I will think about other parts of my life that I struggle with, and think that this physical event is nothing compared to that. When the event is over and I am back at in my normal life, I also reverse that. The unfortunate downside is that it has left me a little less empathetic to people who aren’t willing to push themselves.”
Sean to Jared: Are there any business lessons you would like to share? What is the secret?
“Find the pain point of your customer. Try and get their perspective on things.”
Sean to Jonathan: Are you applying that with Flightless?
“Flightless is more about entertainment that solving any specific pain point. Ignite Ticket Swap is under the Flightless umbrella, and that was a pain point. Short Story RPG solves some problems with storytelling in the role playing genre. A lot of people are missing out on this way to tell a story, because of the connotation with something like Dungeons & Dragons. It is also extremely hard to get people together on a regular basis.”
“Valor is a board game that I have been working on for many years now based on the Gallic War. The inspiration for the game was a series of TV shows that Terry Jones from Monty Python did called “Barbarians”. The barbarians’ level of civilization met or exceeded that of Rome and they were more socially progressive than The Romans in certain ways. This incredible culture was essentially wiped out, except for the diary that Julius Caesar kept as he invaded. The tribes that he makes the most note of were the tribes that were the most difficult to conquer, and this diary becomes the chief scoring mechanic in the game.”
Briana to Jared: You have definitely been a mentor for me! Tell us more about the future of Pro Photo..
“It is interesting the way the business has changed. Our business has shifted so much that now most of our clients actually come into the store instead of using the website. The business is growing more locally. If somebody comes in asking for advice, you don’t jump immediately to equipment, you talk with them about what they are trying to achieve.”
“The other big thing that has changed in the business, is the advent of video. The lines are becoming more blurred between still and motion photography. Once video became available on DSLRs, it became much more accessible to people. With things like the iPhone, video is just part of our lives these days. That is our biggest area of growth and equipment acquisition.”
Sean to Jonathan: Have you had any of those challenges here?
“I definitely think that is true. We are in the Rapt Media office right now and we deal with video every day. People will sign up for a free account and upload media of an astonishing level of production quality.”