Better Know a NationBuilder: Gabe

At NationBuilder, community and mission are really important. Many of our employees come from community organizing backgrounds, so that makes sense - what do you think motivates engineers about intentional community in the workplace?

I don't have any background in community organizing. But, just like anybody else, I want to work on a product that "feels like it matters." It's really hard to pin this down, but really easy to see when it isn't there.

Usually it boils down to how easy it is to describe my job to a grandparent. How much excitement do I have to add to make this translate to someone who doesn't care about technology. Communicating "product vision" can be really hard. When it's hard to explain to your grandma, it's probably hard to pin down in general.

When it's easy to explain "why my product matters," you and your coworkers don't have to waste energy learning how to "buy into the vision." It's hard to build an insightful, diverse, excited community around idiosyncratic goals. NationBuilder's goals are human. We have it easy.

Some of us on Thursday noticed your Tinder sweatshirt. You're off to a honeymoon soon that includes Machu Picchu, which has to be one of the most featured place in Tinder photos. Congrats on your marriage! Care to share how you and your wife met? 

No, we didn't meet on Tinder, but I did work there before coming to NationBuilder. My wife Karen and I met in college at Tufts 8.5 years ago. We got married a few months ago. Yeah, it's about time. And no, we didn't choose Machu Picchu because it's the selfie capital of South America. We're actually stopping on the way to the Galapagos because we'd kick ourselves if we didn't.  

You're working on Thunderdome with the Autobots. Can you share some of your thoughts on what the project means for NationBuilder and what personally interests you about the project?

For reference, Thunderdome is an internal name for a project that statistically links records. "Two go in, one comes out." That's the joke (we can thank Scott for that gem). It's pretty early, but Thunderdome might be a really big win for NationBuilder. At least I hope it will be.

NationBuilder is a sink for tons of partial data. Customers import big chunks of their communities from tons of different places- petitions, walk-sheets, facebook-likes, donations, voting records. In one nation, the same person may be reflected by 5 or 6 different records, each describing a slightly different piece of granular, partial information. It's easy to say "link records if they have the exact same email address." It's hard to say "these two records are extremely likely to reflect the same person, even though they don't technically share much data." That's the problem we're trying to solve.

As our customers add bits and pieces of information from here and there, they don't just add more data - they get better, more insightful data.

Who would you like to know more about NationBuilder? Who should Notes interview?



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Adriel Nation
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