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Jama Software: Isabella Jorissen, Winter Shadow 2016

Me, 2nd from the left, with my host Chris McCraw, on my right, and the Support Ops team

Mustering up the will to get out of bed at 7 am on a rainy Monday in Portland is a lot easier if you have something to look forward to. I realize that 7 am isn’t early for some, but after two weeks of loafing around with my family, it was a bit of a rude awakening (pardon the pun).  Each morning that week, the 99 bus shuffled me to the 6th and Yamhill, and from there I’d walk a few Portland-sized blocks to 2nd and Taylor.

At the corner of 2nd and Taylor is– you guessed it– Jama’s headquarters. The building owner has a penchant for old motorcycles, so the first-floor lobby sports four beautiful bikes (three Ducatis and a Norton, if memory serves).  The second-floor lobby is no less eclectic, though that’s Jama’s doing.  Anyone who visits the Jama office signs in with a living wall at their back and an inspirational mission statement on the wall to their right.  A few of my favorite bits: “This is where we do our best work. It’s where we ask the tough questions and challenge the status quo… As an employee, partner, customer, or guest within our space, you are a member of Jama Nation… Let’s get to work.”

Jama Software focuses on one product, known as Jama. “Jama,” as it was put me by my externship host, “is a little bit of a Swiss army knife.” It’s often used by companies who have a lot of specifications, procedural oversight, or regulations to meet during the product development process. My externship host was Chris McCraw, team Lead for Support Ops. The Support Ops team, which served as a home base of sorts for me, manages any technical issues that might pop up on the customer side. They also maintain online a community where users can ask questions, read documentation, and learn how to make Jama work for them.

Reed Winter Externship Reflections 14: Number Twenty, AppFog, Richard Adcock

"Marketing is something you do when people don't want to buy your product."

Part of a spirited lunch-hour debate, this quote from my sponsor (Richard Kotulski-Wakefield of AppFog) carries a lot of meaning. Hyperbolic, maybe, but the sentiment pervades many tech startups. If your idea is good enough, just give the beta of your product to the relevant bloggers and tech journalists, and it'll take off by itself. So the thinking goes. This somewhat romantic notion--software market as meritocracy, if you will--attracts the ambitious and the free-thinking in equal measure. 

The successful are both.

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