No idea was too small, too silly or too offbeat for Matt Steckler, a Seattle developer and entrepreneur who died this past weekend at his home in Bellevue at the age of 36.
“He was a passionate, creative entrepreneur. He was before his time on many fronts,” recalled his mom Karen Steckler.
Many of Steckler’s entrepreneurial projects had an offbeat air to them, including a recent service called Arrestly that notified users when a Facebook friend ended up in the county jail. Other projects included “I Am Saint Nick,” a phone-based wishlist service that launched in 2008 and was designed so that parents could covertly gather gift ideas from their kids.
Steckler’s entrepreneurial interests started at an early age. His parents operated a computer supply company in the 1980s, and Karen Steckler recalls her son showing off computer monitors to potential customers.
“We remember that day as if it were today, this little guy showing an adult his excitement of being able to look at the computer screen in color,” said Karen Steckler. “Yes, it sealed the deal with the customer.”
At Newport High School in Bellevue, Steckler developed a product to freeze dog poop, making it easier for dog walkers to pick up the excrement. Later, at The University of Oregon, Steckler designed a portable salad cart where students could purchase fresh organic salads on campus.
“Matt’s strong creative strengths were his innate ability to think outside the box and turn extraordinary possibilities into creations,” said his mom, Karen. ”As for his personality, he was gregarious, outgoing and a jokester.”
That playfulness often came through in Steckler’s products, even though few of the ideas ever took root.
Scott Weiss, a longtime friend, recalled Steckler gaining fame in the late 90s for auctioning off every item in his home on eBay in order to fund his travels.
“It was typical Matt to pull a stunt like that,” said Weiss. “He was a master at generating buzz for the projects he worked on, no matter how small or obscure.”
While Steckler worked at Microsoft for a number of years and even tried his luck as brewer, Weiss said that his friend was most passionate about working on consumer Internet applications. Weiss described him as an “out-of-the-box thinker” who constantly came up with new business ideas.
“He literally had at least one idea a day he would email me,” recalled Weiss. ”I always tried to play devil’s advocate with him to tell him why his ideas wouldn’t work, but he would always say: ‘No, this is huge, gazillion dollar idea.’ He was very enthusiastic and pursued his ideas with great vigor. I know he really wanted to be an Internet entrepreneur, and in many ways (he) was, even if none of his projects ever become big.”
A memorial service is being planned for Monday at Sunset Hills at 1:30 p.m. Community members and friends are asked to make donations at any Key Bank location to an education trust set up on behalf of Steckler’s son, Findley David Steckler.