A Decade In Digital Analytics At Napkyn

by Jim Cain

The year was 2009.  It was the worst week of the great recession.  I had just lost my job, with extreme prejudice, an hour before my future wife and I headed to the lawyer’s office to close on our first home that we could no longer afford.  

It was a time where only a complete idiot would start a company.

Skip skip, after we left the lawyer’s we split a quart of Molson Export at the tavern and decided to go for it.

I had a few grand in severance, a Vonage box, an empty spare room (that now houses two crazy little boys) and an idea I’d written on a napkin at the pub a few months earlier.

Man I wish I’d kept that napkin.  

I did keep the idea though – it went something like this: “Marry the value proposition of I.T Managed Services with the job description for a Web Analyst”.  And that’s what I did. Over the next several years, Napkyn exclusively sold the Analyst Program, and started to slowly but surely add new clients, which helped to pay for new team members.

I remember our first office, where it got so cold in the winter you had to wear gloves to type, and when the bathroom light broke we used a desk lamp from Ikea.  

Man … it was cold in there.

I remember each and every client we ever worked with, where no matter how interesting the requirements were, we always learned something.

I remember each and every person who has ever worked at Napkyn, and all the contributions they made to advance us from a tiny business to a small corporation.

I remember each and every thing I did wrong (side note: it turns out that growing a business with no experience is very stressful), but I’m also aware of the things we did right.

Skip some more to right now, and we have a fast-growing enterprise of 27 people across three amazing businesses.  We’re a ‘go-to’ enterprise analytics partner for not only Google, but also some of the largest brands in the world.  I get to spend all day being intimidated by some seriously smart people, some of whom learned everything they know about analytics at Napkyn.

Posing with our first logo – This kid is 8 now!

I’m now typing this exactly 10 years from the meeting where I got canned.  So if I could jump in the DeLorean right now and go talk to 2009 me, what would I say?  

For starters, “Exercise more or you’re going to look like this.” But also, “You’re hours from making a decision that is going to be the coolest thing you might ever do.  Get ready to learn a ton, meet some awesome people, and build a multi-million dollar business.”

“Oh, and Las Vegas gets a hockey team and they go to the cup finals their first year out.  Seriously.”

Cheers,

Jim

PS. Thank you all for your support, patronage, and friendship over the last decade.  I know the whole team at Napkyn is looking forward to the next one!

PPS.  Our tenth year is going to be a big one – As you can see from this case study with Google & Lucky Brand Jeans – Napkyn Analytics continues to innovate in the ways that allow large enterprises to win with data.  Babbage Systems is about to change how all marketers manage their campaigns in Google Analytics. Data Stack Licensing, the baby of the family at six months old, is quickly becoming the go-to licensing partner for Google Analytics 360!

Jim Cain

Founder and CEO, Napkyn Analytics

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