Business Schools

From Shipper to CEO


Worcester Polytech grad Jeremy Hitchcock started at a small company working without pay, and now he's the CEO. Here's a typical day

Formed in 1998, Dynamic Network Services provides superior domain name system services. My colleague Tom Daly (also a 2004 graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and I run the company of 14 employees.

Tim Wilde started DynDNS in 1998 as a hobby. Tim worked at WPI's Web development office where I was summer Web writer. My involvement started as innocently as helping to ship servers but grew into doing some of the books. By fall of 2001, we had filed as a real company and paid taxes the next year.

I became chief financial officer in a Staples (SPLS) parking lot when I came up with a title for myself, and CEO when Tim Wilde left for California in August, 2005, to work for the company full-time as a consultant. My counterpart and equal Tom Daly is the company's president.

Before working at DynDNS, I thought it was just a job. But I quickly learned that it is really a way of life. I often have trouble getting out of work mode. Luckily, my wife makes sure that we do things like going on vacations and day hiking trips (and yes, I—not my wife—wrote that).

Here's a sample day in my life.

7:30 a.m.—I run to a morning meeting for the Amoskeag Business Incubator, a business innovation center that provides low-cost office space and support services for growing companies. Currently, we are discussing the need to better market ourselves to local entrepreneurs.

9:15 a.m.— I arrive at the office. I check e-mail and voicemail and then take a look at my big whiteboard full of projects (it's the only way that I keep myself organized). I decide that today is the day I start doing some prototyping of a new service we're thinking of launching. Before I begin, I really need to have some coffee. It smells like someone in the office has already brewed a fresh cup of joe with my home-roasted coffee beans.

9:45 a.m—After getting a cup and floating around the office talking with employees, I sit down and start to do some coding.

11:00 a.m.—One of our support technicians comes in to discuss hardware that has recently passed our certification program. Many hardware vendors have integrated an interface to our service but sometimes, it's done rather poorly. We came up with a certification program to properly provide quality assurance to their software and recognize devices that actually work. The support technician also lets me know (in HR capacity) that our last team-building activity at F-1 Racing was "wicked awesome."

Noon—I head over to a local café to grab lunch with someone from a local Internet company. It's great to be in downtown Manchester, N.H. because everyone is close to us and we have so many great restaurants to choose from.

1:30 p.m.—I head back to the office because I need to get ready for a meeting with our legal counsel to go over a new licensing program.

2:00 p.m.—Meeting with the lawyer. A surprise about running a company is how everything is tied together and how small things in software engineering can affect how a licensing contract needs to be put together.

4:00 p.m.—Tom and I meet with our software engineers to get an update of a project they are working on.

5:45 p.m.—I duck out of the meeting early so I can run over to a Manchester Young Professionals meeting. The organization is a professional networking group that holds business networking and professional development workshops and events. I sit on the board (see BusinessWeek.com, 6/12/06, "The Art of the Schmooze").

7:00 p.m.—It's almost gig-time for a big band I play in. I swing home to grab my trombone and see if my wife, Liz, wants to get supper. She decides to come with me and stay for the gig.

8:00 p.m.—Two hours of Ellington, Basie, and Armstrong. Liz and I catch up with some friends during a quick break in the middle of the set and have dinner.

10:00 p.m.—Home. A little more e-mail and then sleep.

The best thing about running a company where I grew up is the ability to give back to the community. I serve on the board of a business incubator and of a group that programs social and professional development events for young professionals (see BusinessWeek.com, 2/15/07, "Millennials on a Mission").

Without my education, I would not have the tools I use on a daily basis. I plan to continue my education with an MBA (see BusinessWeek.com, 8/8/06, "Friendly Advice from Your B-School Elders").

I began at DynDNS when I was a student and worked hard without pay for a year for something I believed in. When I finally became a paid employee, I was already doing the accounting, coding, and was helping with the strategic business decisions. And the work will certainly pay off in the long run..

Hitchcock can be reached at jeremy@dyndns.com.

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