On May 16, 2016, Acumium reached a milestone, celebrating our 15th anniversary of being in business. There was no big fanfare; it was really just another day. This isn’t because we don’t know how to celebrate. We do. We really do. It’s just that we prefer to look ahead.
That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least reflect a little bit on this occasion, so we sat down with Dan Costello, our Founder and CEO, to talk about what our 15 years in business meant to him as the man at the helm and the leader of our amazing crew.
So, Dan, 15 years is kind of a big deal. What does that mean to you?
To be honest, milestones like that aren’t that important to me. Yes, 15 years is notable, and the company’s been through a lot and we’ve accomplished a lot, but I feel it’s less about where we’ve been and more about where we’re going. I want us to be making continuous, lifelong improvements. I want us to always be better today than we were yesterday, and not as good as we will be tomorrow. I think the longevity of some of our client relationships reflects this approach. We’ve been on 10-year-long journeys with some of our partners. I want to keep that going, and we can only do that if we keep pushing forward.
What do you want people to say about working with Acumium?
I want them to say we’re awesome. I want them to feel like we’re bringing great ideas to the table, always innovating. We love working with clients who have a vision, and I’d want them to say that Acumium gets their vision and Acumium shares their vision. And I want us to make a difference. On a larger scale, I want people to know us for our contributions to making this country more competitive in the global economy. When we partner with people who have interesting ideas, and we get to be a key player in helping some of these really interesting businesses grow, that aligns well with that goal.
Anything else that’s particularly notable about Acumium as a partner?
We’re loyal to our customers. We try to always be efficient and maximize value. When we work with newer companies, or businesses that are maybe a little stuck, we can help drive their efforts to grow as an organization. We do that for ourselves, too. Our culture encourages every person to drive efforts toward getting sh*t done and making things better. The idea of servant leadership is also important. It’s a personal value of mine that translates well into how we operate as a company.
What do you take particular pride in about the company Acumium’s grown into?
I take a lot of pride in the culture. We’ve worked hard to build it and we work every day to maintain and improve it. It’s gone from something that was kind of happenstance to something we really curate. I think the fact that we’ve been honored for the last three years as a Madison Magazine “Best Place to Work” reinforces that. Our culture aligns with our values, and the team we have in place and the approach we take every day reflects those.
Also, as a company, we try to give back. Community is important. Sustainability is important. We regularly provide free or reduced-cost work to select non-profit or community-based organizations. We’re one of Sustain Dane’s 10 MPower Businesses for 2016. We added solar panels in our parking lot and we regularly put energy back on the grid. We just recently leased an electric car for employees to use for client visits and lunch trips. We’re trying to do our part.
We made a financial investment in one of our clients this year, which was kind of a big deal. Can you talk about that a little bit?
As a company, we need to take risks. I think of it as that we have one really big thing we can do each year. This year, that big thing was taking a financial risk investing in Cellara and the CultureTrax platform we’re building with them. We’ve invested in other clients, but usually it’s been via our time, and this time we’re actually writing a check. Investing in clients is something we consider seriously every time we’re asked, but we need to know who you are first and make sure it’s a good fit. If we start a journey with a client and things gel, we’re willing to take a stake in their success. I think of it as part of our legacy.
What advice would you give the Dan of 15 years ago?
That’s a good question. I think I’d say, “Don’t be afraid.” It took me about seven years of running the company to figure that out. I’d want to tell myself not to let the fear of failure prevent me from moving the company ahead. Failure is not only acceptable, it’s a necessary part of progress.
If we look forward to the next 15 years, what do you want people to think of Acumium?
I’d like us to be recognized as a leader in digital, whatever that means in 15 years. Also that we still have a great team, we still do great work, and we still value the relationships we have with every client. That we’re an incubator for innovation and we take risks. And that we make a difference.