DNSFilter began in 2015, but it feels like these two have been with us since the very beginning. Josh Lamb and Jean Pierre (JP) Guarin started their journeys at DNSFilter 3 years ago. When they joined, there were only a handful of employees and everyone had to wear many hats. Today, our team is now over 50 strong and still growing.
Josh and JP have been an important part of DNSFilter’s growth. I interviewed both of them to learn about their journey at DNSFilter.
How did you start with DNSFilter?
It was a really interesting and unconventional start to a career. Someone who I knew was looking to beef up their internet security and asked me to look into it. I started browsing around and came across DNSFilter and I was like: “Oh, this is really cool.”
After implementing it for my friend, I reached out directly to the DNSFilter team via Canny to ask how often IP addresses were updated. The team reached back out with an answer, "It's every 90 seconds.” So then I responded on the public forum asking "Are you looking for anyone?" It turned out to be perfect timing because they did reach out to and interview me, and, here I am.
Tell me about your journey here at DNSFilter
It's been an incredible ride so far and has kept me really busy. I find myself getting bored easily if I'm not stimulated. I feel that DNSFilter has really been able to scratch that itch.
So I started off as a tech support rep back when they had no support team, no sales team, no marketing—it was just Ken slinging sales. At the time, we also had no white papers, product literature, no graphics. So, I started to produce stuff. I basically turned into a Biz Dev Analyst about 8 months into my journey here.
Sometime later, the team sat me down and asked what I wanted to do. I was basically doing marketing already, so I said, “This'll be great.” And started to grow the team. I hired Serena—and you know she's just out there killing it! I realized the marketing landscape was changing really fast so I ended up hiring Mike Sutton. This was about two years into my career here. Then a spot opened up for a manager of the tech support team earlier this year and I came back to this side of the house.
What's the most important thing to know about working here?
That's a really good question. Matt White recently said that the people that stay and thrive here, who are successful and really love the company, all have one unifying thing in common—they all have an entrepreneurial mindset. Most likely if they weren't working here at DNSfilter, they'd be out doing their own thing.
What advice do you have for any new hires?
I'd say don't be afraid to jump in and try new things. This is a unique company in that if you see a need for something, you're empowered to go work on it. A lot of companies would kibosh those ideas, but here you'll get a "Yeah, go for it" type response.
Anything else to add?
Now is a great time to join the company. It's a really exciting time with a lot of growth. And to the executive team, I'd say we should have more meetups!
So tell me, how did you come to join DNSFilter?
Well, I knew Daniel Areiza from a long time ago and he started here at DNSFilter. I was working somewhere else before, and he told me the story that he just joined a small startup. He was interested because he had the chance to play around a little bit with Golang and do a small app. And then I think that started the process—that was at the very beginning of it. So he called me and we spoke about the company. Shortly after that, I was looking for other opportunities. I was looking at something else and the idea of joining DNSFilter came up. So I had a conversation with Brian Gillis. We chatted a little bit, like two or three times, and I decided to join the team. We were on a test period for a month or two. That went pretty well and the rest is history.
We started small, we were just starting to develop the whole API, the block page, and talking a lot and about how we want this app to be in the future. I think from those first thoughts to today it's completely different. It is huge. And we didn't expect the whole app and company to grow as much, but we're so glad that it happened.
What do you think is really important to know for people who are considering DNSFilter as a place to work?
I think the culture that we have built all together as it is today, the way we think, the way we plan stuff, the opportunities that we have, not only on the professional side, but personal as well. We have a lot of good things, like vacations which are very flexible, and free time to think. I think that it's very important for us and more from the engineering part, because it can be quite rough.
Sometimes we have pressure to do things right and make it work. Sometimes software fails and we have to dig into the code for hours and hours. Sometimes we just need to take a breath and rest a little bit. But yeah, having all this culture has made it possible to be here at the company for this long. And I think we're going to be here for a while.
What does it take to thrive here?
I think the most important thing is communication. We tried to do some stuff that can be pretty rough at the beginning. And if you communicate right, if you're having problems, we need to investigate. You need to read a book, consult with other developers, whatever. And we’re all on the same page. I think that's the most important thing.
Sometimes we underestimate a task and it takes longer—that needs to be communicated. Sometimes we overestimate and the task turns out to be simpler than expected, and that needs to be communicated.
What do you enjoy most about working at DNSFilter?
Well, although there are a lot of challenges, I think challenges are very important for me as a professional. We are not always developing the same thing. I also like learning and using new technology. Playing around with databases, migrations, servers in different locations, it’s all quite fun. I think it’s very interesting.
Where do you see the company in the next 3-5 years?
If you had asked me this two, three years ago, I wouldn't say what it is today, right? We didn't imagine growing this fast. And if we imagine four or five years more, I really don't know what could happen. We could be a global company with hundreds of employees! But I don't think that's the most important thing. It is the quality of the service that you're giving to the client. I think we have that. We're going to be a global leader with our main service application. And we're going to have it in tons of devices, and cell phones, tablets, etc.
Anything else to add?
It has been a fun journey—working at DNSFilter when there were like four or five, maybe six people into what it is today. We have huge teams, from the infrastructure teams, the marketing teams, data science, to product. I can’t wait to see what’s next!