It feels good to be back to work after the holidays, and things sure are abuzz here at Mersive already this year. With so much happening day-in and day-out, I continue to be amazed by our culture that seems to now be self-sustaining. I suppose when a group of people with talent and passion get together, culture takes care of itself. Entire books have been written on corporate culture, but rather than hypothesize about our own, I’d prefer to provide insight about our culture with an interview of Erin Orsulak, our channel manager.  She’ll shed some light on life here at Mersive and her own path to working here, and I think her answers are informative for readers that have start-ups of their own or manage groups of people.

Erin came to Mersive by way of California and is the face of Mersive to our partner channel (we don’t sell direct and rely on great partners). She’s also involved in our marketing efforts, so you might recognize her if you’ve ever visited our booth at InfoComm or watched a Solstice training video.

Now let’s see what Erin has to say…

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Erin and Waffles

Where are you from?
I grew up in Walnut Creek, California – a suburban city outside of San Francisco.

What brought you to Denver?
I was living in Los Angeles and decided I needed a change of pace. Growing up near the ocean, I always wanted to try out the mountains too. Plus I always heard that Denver was a budding tech hub.

How did you wind up doing channel management and development?
I’ve always had a knack for communications, marketing and business development. There have been other career paths that I have considered, but I always end up back on the marketing and sales side. I recently took on a new path at Mersive as a Channel Manager and it’s a great opportunity for me to learn something new and take on a new challenge.

How did you land at Mersive?
After I moved to Colorado, I interviewed with a number of other startups in the Denver/Boulder metro area. Mersive seemed to have the perfect mix of science, technology, innovation and culture. I felt as though I instantly fit in within the first five minutes of my first interview.

What has been your favorite project to work on here at Mersive and why?
Being a small company there are so many projects that we are working on at any given time. Since I started working for the company a year before Solstice was in the market, it has been a really cool experience seeing the evolution of the product over the last couple of years. My roles and responsibilities related to the product have changed a lot too. When it first came to market, I was on the marketing team and had the task of writing all the product materials, including reference guides, so I became VERY familiar with every little detail of the product. I would not say that was my favorite project, but it sure was a great way to learn everything. Now on the sales/channel side, new product releases means educating our channel of resellers on all the features and benefits of the new versions. This is a lot more fun for me.

How have you seen the AV industry change since you joined Mersive?
Yes – a lot, and in a short period of time. My first year at InfoComm was in 2012. Solstice was not on the market yet but we were doing a sneak peak of the product at the show for a select group of partners. No one had ever seen a product like Solstice and you could see the excitement in some of our resellers when they saw the product and thought about the possibility of how it would work with their customer base. On the other side, there were a few resellers in the crowd who seemed a little pale-faced…they were scared of a product like Solstice since it was completely different than their traditional hardware-based solutions. Solstice meant they would need to start working with IT departments and cross a barrier they were frightened to cross. Since then there has been some push back, but even more so there has been tremendous adoption of software-based solutions in the AV market. For every one reseller that I talk to who seems to scoff at software, there are 10 saying they know this is the way to go and have embraced it.

What’s one thing you think people may not know about Mersive – that they should know?
One thing that I am always amazed by is the amount of time and effort our engineering staff puts into creating a great user experience for the product. With a combination of market research and soliciting feedback from both existing and prospect customers, we are constantly striving to make Solstice the most user-friendly and IT-friendly product on the market. And I think we have been successful on both fronts.

From an industry stand-point, what do you think the AV industry is challenged with overcoming?
Years and years of legacy hardware that is comfortable for the channel to sell, even when they know there are better products out there for them and their customers.

What blogs or news sites do you read religiously?
Fast Company, Pitchfork, and NPR.


RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ERIN

What motivates or inspires you?
I find it motivating to be a part of advancements that can change the way we use technology. My dog, Waffles, inspires me a lot. He is so funny and totally unaware of all stresses in the world. When I am tense, sometimes I can just take him for a short walk and feel like a new person afterward. I think we can all take a few lessons from dogs since they seem to have it figured out.

What do you geek-out about?
I geek out over music, food, sour beers and dogs. Recently I’ve been geeking out over the Serial podcast.

What was your first technology gadget that impacted you – one that sparked your interest in the world of tech?
As common as this answer may be, it was my 2nd generation iPod. As a music freak for most of my childhood and early adulthood, I carried a ridiculous amount of CD’s in my car and sometimes even brought CD’s to parties. (“Hey guys, check out this cool mixed CD I made!”) One time I had my entire book of CD’s stolen out of my friend’s truck. I was devastated. Once my iPod gave me a way to digitize my music and carry it with me in my pocket, I knew everything was going to be OK.

If you could only have ONE gadget, what would it be and why?
My Sonos sound system is pretty much my favorite thing that I own. Sonos is amazing.

Did you have a nickname growing up? Want to share it? (Disclaimer: This may become your new nickname at work.)
Not really, people always called me by my full name, which is basically the opposite of having a nickname.

Are you a coffee or tea person? Beer or wine person?
Recently I’m way more of a tea person, but I love coffee too. I love both beer and wine. I’m not overly committed to any one beverage. But I’m definitely not a soda person.

If you could see any band (past or present) who would it be?
I’ve seen pretty much all of the present bands that I want to see. I have always said that I would have loved to see Jackson 5 in their heyday.

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About Christopher Jaynes

Jaynes received his doctoral degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he worked on camera calibration and aerial image interpretation technologies now in use by the federal government. Jaynes received his BS degree with honors from the School of Computer Science at the University of Utah. In 2004, he founded Mersive and today serves as the company's Chief Technology Officer. Prior to Mersive, Jaynes founded the Metaverse Lab at the University of Kentucky, recognized as one of the leading laboratories for computer vision and interactive media and dedicated to research related to video surveillance, human-computer interaction, and display technologies.

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