Matthew Neagle was drawn to startups by the qualities he learned early in his career working for the non-profit leadership organization AIESEC. He knew he wanted to be surrounded by awesome people working toward a common purpose.
After moving to Seattle on a whim in 2011 — to flee the financial, housing, and automotive downturn in his much-loved Michigan — Neagle found the city’s tech community welcoming and helpful. He went to work for Amazon, but knew his plan was to get involved in startups.
He started working for the home services company Porch right after the startup raised its Series A financing. “It’s been a wild ride ever since,” Neagle said, and today he is Porch’s chief customer officer.
“Around Porch and Amazon I am known as ‘ManEagle’ — a play on my name that was born when Amazon temporarily issued me an employee user account of the same name (until my manager changed it out of embarrassment before I started),” Neagle said. “Once I learned this, I fought to get it back. It has been with me ever since.”
With five years under his belt in Seattle, Neagle said he and his wife and two children have fallen in love with the city. Meet our Geek of the Week, and continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
What do you do, and why do you do it? “We stepped into the home improvement industry because we saw a massive opportunity (>$500B) to bring better technology to a core human experience (taking care of your home). It is a very interesting space with a lot of healthy competition and the only thing that is certain is that the way people manage their home is going to look very different in 3-5 years. I love being a part of that.
“I love that we are bringing data into an opaque process. I love working with small business owners who take pride in their work. I love getting feedback from homeowners when their project gets done with no issues.
“But, my deepest hope is that we can bring a personal connection back to this industry. I want people to know the name of their plumber and I want that plumber to feel like they are taking care of a home. A lot of the challenges we face today with service providers — scheduling, responsiveness, and quality — go away if there is that personal connection.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “What I see every day is that we are supply constrained — we don’t have enough service providers to do all of the work homeowners want to do let alone what they should be doing. Our vision is that homeowners will realize the full potential of their home — that means we need to find a way to get that work done.
“Similar to what happened in private transportation with Uber, we will need to use technology to dramatically increase the efficiency of service providers such that 1) the service becomes more accessible to the masses and 2) the personal opportunity makes sense for more people to make that their career. It will take time but we have a lot of ideas about how to do that.”
Where do you find your inspiration? “As we often say at Porch, it is all about the people. I get inspiration through my team and through my very supportive wife and my two children.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “Google Maps. Before Google Maps, I would never pay attention to where I was going and that led to all sorts of navigational blunders. With Google Maps, I still don’t have to pay attention to where I am going but all those issues go away. It’s wonderful.”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “My workspace has a few enduring characteristics. I perfect the height of my monitors with reams of paper (it’s good ergonomics). I always turn my desk to face towards people (it’s good feng shui). And, I can rarely be found there.”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life? (Help us out, we need it.) “I took a course on Getting Things Done (GTD) at Google and have been Inbox Zero ever since. I will spout its virtues to anyone who mentions the word productivity and can stand to listen to me for 20 minutes.
“But, the biggest life hack I have found at Porch juggling the demands of a start-up with small children was to invert my power hours from night to morning. I used to come home, have dinner and quality time with my family, and then jump back on at 9:30 p.m. for a couple hours to catch up. Now, I just go to bed at 9:30pm and get up 2 hours earlier.
“It has been life changing — it means when I come home from work every day, I am done. I never work in the evenings. I get to let go and be fully present with my family. The other benefit is that I naturally wake up early on the weekends so I get an incredible amount done before most people (including my wife and kids) are even up.”
Mac, Windows or Linux? Windows
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Picard
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Time Machine. Little good would come from a cloak of invisibility and I don’t travel enough to need a transporter.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … “Not spend any of it on free food. The free food perk needs to be challenged. I think there are better ways to invest in culture. But, seriously, I would be on a mission to solve a problem that is personally important to me. Some problems I see in my life are 1) access to convenient and affordable childcare, 2) teachers having to spend too much time grading papers, and 3) the non-existence of 24/7 on-the-hour yoga studios.”
I once waited in line for … “Four hours in the New Delhi airport carrying a 50-pound stone Ganesh in my backpack on my way to a friend’s wedding in Portugal. It was the worst security line ever and also probably the worst wedding gift ever.”
Your role models? “I have never been one to look at famous or historical figures as role models. I have found people at every place that I have worked that I have looked up to and learned from. I tend to be drawn to people who have notable integrity, courage, and passion in the work they do.”
Greatest game in history? “The extended Neagle family is big on games. Every holiday for the past 15 years, I do extensive research on Game Board Geek and buy one board game for the family. The long-time reigning champion is Settlers of Cataan. It’s serious family business — nieces/nephews place their first settlements when they turn 6. Incidentally, I was part of a press-worthy Settlers game with John Cook at a GeekWire game night in 2012 where all four players were at nine points for four turns. Epic. John beat us.
Best gadget ever? “Hippo Roller. A simple tool that totally transforms access to water for families in under-developed countries. Check it out here. It is hard not to watch that and feel the power that someone with a simple idea has to have a positive impact on the world.”
First computer? “Apple IIe.”
Current phone? “Samsung Droid Turbo 2.”
Favorite app? “Flipboard.”
Favorite cause? “AIESEC.”
Most important technology of 2016? “On a smaller and more personal level, it has been access to food delivery — a life saver when juggling the demands of a start-up and a new family. My wife and I love to cook and are raving fans of Acme Kitchen, a local start-up that delivers everything you need to cook a week’s worth of organic and locally produced meals. It has actually saved us both time and money while letting us keep the joy of cooking.”
Most important technology of 2018? “Google’s Project Loon — which will use helium balloons to provide internet access to a billion people currently out of reach of cell towers. I remember hearing about this project 10 years ago at Google as a crazy moonshot and now it is close to happening. I would have loved to have been in the room when some engineer said, “Why don’t we … ”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks? “A couple Porch employees decided one day to put up inspirational quotes around the office. This one sits on the men’s bathroom door and I really liked it given the ups and downs of startup life: “You have survived 100% of your worst days. You’re doing great!”
LinkedIn: Matthew Neagle