Every month 100state likes to recognize the great efforts that our members go through to grow their business and improve the 100state community. March’s Member of the Month goes to Brad Orego of MobileIgniter. He has been a supporter of 100state, since before the inception of 100state, so he has been a very loyal member. He also recently developed a doorbell for the community, so that individuals can contact the 100state team or other members that they are here to meet them. People can access this through this  link: http://100state.com/doorbell/ , which is also on the 100state website. We thank Brad for his continuous efforts in improving the community and making it a better place. Here are some questions that we had for Brad to find out about more of his passions and the things that he is working on.

What is your job?

Currently my job title is “Product Lead”, but that includes anything from customer validation and market research to usability testing and user experience design to project management and front-end development. Basically I do whatever I can to help make products that don’t suck.

What are you currently working on?

Officially, I’m working with a company called MobileIgniter. We’re an Internet-of-Things consultancy that helps companies take existing products and make them “smart” (i.e. internet-connected), as well as build our own retrofits for existing products.

I have a handful of other side projects as well, including beerbatterbreakfast.com, an app for personal trainers and physical therapists, helping build MOOV’s web app, and possibly a reboot of my first foray into entrepreneurship – stay tuned on that one.

What motivates you?

When I was a sophomore in undergrad, I met with my advisor about where I wanted to focus my studies. He asked what I wanted to do, and I told him I wanted to make software that people can understand. He told me it would be easier to make software that understands people.

There’s so much opportunity to do interesting, exciting, meaningful work with software, and to build experiences that seamlessly integrate with everyday life and empower the masses. That’s what I’m ultimately passionate about.

Dance is another major part of my life. I’m always striving to grow stronger, and to be more open and expressive in my work. It’s a calling, not a choice.

What are your personal goals?

Never stop learning, growing. To be better than I was last week. To enjoy the ride along the way. To create meaningful value for those that I work with. To integrate user-centered design into everything I do. To reach more people and a wider diversity of users with my work. Start my own company (when the stars align). Finish paying off student loans within the next year or so (hence why I haven’t started a company).

What is your biggest strength?

I think what makes me the most unique is the diversity of skills and interests I have. I come to the world of user-centered design from an academic background in Computer Science and Psychology, but I also studied visual art, cognitive science, Spanish, and dance.

I’ve worked with a wide variety of startup companies, so I’ve seen what works well and what doesn’t, and I’ve worked in a variety of industries (everything from hospitality to patent law). I also have many passions outside of work, including dance, curling, ultimate frisbee, and homebrewing, so I can draw from many experiences and find interesting intersections.

What obstacles have you faced trying to reach your goals and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest obstacles facing first-time designers is the lack of work experience, especially for someone with a background in software. What I’ve always thought of as a benefit (understanding software development, i.e. knowing how to code) has many times been a detriment (“Oh, you know how to code? Well we could use some help here….”).

The best suggestion I have to the students I mentor is to get as much experience in class, internships, and side projects as possible. Volunteer your time if you have to. Get more reps in and more experiences and you’ll be able to speak more broadly and more knowledgeably.

When has your perseverance paid off for you?

This isn’t exactly related to my work as a technologist, but I think some of my proudest work has been as a dancer. I started dancing in college, and didn’t take my first ballet class until I was 20. I basically fell into dance – starting first with ballroom dance, then hip hop and Capoeira, then bellydance and swing, until I found myself taking every class our dance department (and local studios) offered.

After moving to Madison, I started taking classes and I was offered an apprenticeship with Kanopy Dance Company in 2013, marking my first position as a professional dancer. Since then I’ve been promoted to company proper, and have been given the opportunity to choreograph a piece in our Spring 2016 show. All because, as a freshman, I was tired of sports and martial arts, and I just kept at it.

Why do you work out of a coworking space?

Coworking spaces certainly have their pluses and minuses. If you need to be heads-down jamming on something that has the impending doom of a close deadline, coworking spaces aren’t a good choice. If you’re looking for a free flow of ideas, to be interrupted with opportunities, for serendipity, then there isn’t anywhere better than a coworking space.

The energy you get from those around you, and the diversity of individuals present make it the perfect place to find meaningful crossovers.

Why 100state?

I’ve been around 100state since before it was 100state – I first met Nico, Adam, and Mike at the first Startup Weekend: Madison in 2012, and I was immediately on the same wavelength as they were.

I’ve stayed involved for so long due to the type of person that gravitates toward 100state – intelligent, passionate, motivated. There’s always something new happening, and someone new to meet, and it’s great to be in this environment.

To find out more about Brad and MobileIgniter, you can go to their website here: https://www.mobileigniter.com/