For many, a new year brings new beginnings and experiences, and we’re living up those experiences in a new temporary office space.
Oh yeah, we probably didn’t mention this back in December, but our main HQ experienced a partial floor and thus ceiling collapse—where thankfully no one was hurt and many lost Nerf darts were discovered—which lead us to look for a new home on the other side of the train tracks. Literally.
If you cross the train tracks from Walnut Street over to Pearl East Circle, you’ll find us at our new temporary Sphero HQ, and we’re settling in nicely to our current digs. While the building may be lacking some identifiable Sphero branding, we’d like to think we’re operating incognito with fiberoptic cables descending down from the ceiling to each desk, looking like something out of The Matrix, to keep us plugged in and working hard for the coming big year.
If you’re wanting to drop by and say hello, hit up our buddy Clayton to be first in line for a tour when HQ reopens. Our new floor will be happy to meet your acquaintance.
If you can’t wait that long, cross the train tracks to find us at new HQ somewhere between a tree and a Marriott. And while you’re at it, would you also mind picking up a few Spheroites who still haven’t found their way? We’re slightly worried about Tom.
Q. Hello, nice to see you. Mind telling us your name and title here?
A. Leslie Ainza, Event Manager.
Q. Hi, Leslie. What do you do at Sphero?
A. I plan, organize, and manage all of the events Sphero participates in around the world with the help of my trusted side-kick Jan (Event and Marketing Coordinator).
Q. The dynamic duo. What advice can you impart for others looking to get into event management?
A. Don’t, unless you are crazy and I by that I mean the good crazy who loves to organize and plan, and then organize some more. We are a rare breed… but if you love that stuff you are born for this job.
Q. Are you able to share with us what’s on deck or is that under wraps?
A. Hmm, a bit of both I guess. I am currently juggling two big events. First up is Bett in London, our biggest EDU show across the pond. Here we will showcase SPRK+ to teachers and the education community in the UK. Right after that we have New York Toy Fair where we'll show all of our super top secret 2017 product line to buyers from all over the US.
Q. Besides getting us to some cool shows, what do you love most about working at Sphero?
A. I LOVE THE PEOPLE I WORK WITH! It sounds cliche, but really these people have become some of my best friends. It’s awesome to get to work alongside them. The traveling also has its perks, this job has taken me to so many new places.
Q. I’ll say. Which of our bots is your favorite?
A. SPRK+. There is nothing like being at an EDU show with children and seeing them learn and smile. Seeing that spark light within them to learn more about coding and programing makes it all worth it.
Q. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
A. When I actually get to be home and I am not traveling to an event, I am a bit of a homebody. I like to binge watch shows on my big comfy couch, go on walks with my puppy Blue, cook, read, hang out with my boyfriend. You know, the usual.
Q. Pretty good usual, if you ask me. What do you love most about living in Colorado?
A. Being from California, Colorado is totally different but in the best way possible. I love that living here has gotten me out of my comfort zone and into exploring the outdoors. Who knows… I might even camp for the first time this summer.
Q. I’d highly recommend it. Any places you recommend we check out?
A. Any places that sells TACOS I am usually there! My favorite is Comida at The Source. Their tacos are next level, and don't even get me started on the guac.
Q. Guac? Say no more. Ok, last question: What interesting tidbit can you share about yourself?
A. I used to work in the fashion industry and never thought I'd leave. Ive since traded the labels for robots and have never looked back. Needless to say, you never know where the world will take you. Oh, and I also listen to way too much rap music.
CES, you get us every time. Not only sporting some of the coolest tech around—like those self-rocking bassinets we were dying to take a nap in—but also sporting some of the coolest attendees who were eager to hear about yours truly.
Well, ok, maybe it wasn’t ALL about us, but our Sphero City eye candy definitely helped lure them our way.
Tired of seeing the same old booths year after year? Us too. We took whimsy to the max and created a city within a convention... just because we could. And so the "City of Wonderment" was born in the City of Sin. No comment there.
Thirsty for knowledge? Our Bernstein and Wilson Coding Academy will get you thinking with SPRK+ bots. Curious what a Sphero is, anyway? Take a trip down our memory lane at Musee d’Orbay. VIP, you say? Come right through the $phero Reserve Bank to see what new products we have in store for 2017. Password, retinal scan and pizza required. No anchovies, please.
Even if they were only looking for the bathroom (which... we didn't go there), tourists to Sphero City were treated to attractions worthy of a Thrillist’s Top-10, or something like that.
Q. Ok, to get this Q&A started, let’s get some formalities like your name and title out of the way.
A. My name is Miles and I am a mechanical engineer.
Q. So what does your life at Sphero look like on the daily?
A. Depending on where we are in the product development cycle, my job changes significantly. Early on, I help define what the product will be through prototyping potential user experiences. Later I work closely with our manufacturers to design the actual mechanical components of our products, while ensuring they meet our performance specifications.
Q. Care to impart any advice for future mechanical engineers?
A. Tinker and Hack! Constantly build things and find what you are passionate about. Through this you will learn problem solving and other skills that are difficult to learn academically. Earning a degree in mechanical engineering is a good foundation though!
Q. Can you share what you’re currently working on, or is it super secret?
A. My current project is two levels above super secret, sorry. Earlier this year though I worked on the Force Band. The magnetic clasp and button were challenging.
Q. Made it super easy for us to use the Force in a SNAP, though. What do you love most about working here?
A. This is where robots are born! (At least some of them.) I am eternally grateful that Sphero encourages me to explore new ideas and even celebrates my wacky side projects.
Q. Always celebrate the wacky. Which of our bots is your favorite?
A. Ollie! It is the most fun to drive, especially with the Force Band.
Q. When not making cool stuff, what do you like to do outside of Sphero?
A. I love to learn new things, whether it is reading a book on design, taking apart a machine to see how it works, or learning a new song on the guitar. I also love to run; Colorado is good for that!
Q.Yeah it is! Any other favorite things you enjoy about living here?
A. The climate—sunny and dry most of the time with just the right amount of snow to keep the winter interesting.
Q. The best description of our weather I’ve ever heard. What are some spots you recommend we check out?
A. There is a hill next to NCAR that overlooks Boulder. It is a perfect picnic place.
Q. You’re about to have a lot of new friends at your next picnic. Alright, to wrap this up, please share an interesting tidbit about yourself.
A. I once made a sculptural dress out of magazine pages and car parts.
AHHHHHH…we don’t know about you guys, but we’re feelin’ FRESH like a new spring day. Never mind that it’s currently snowing outside or that our post-holiday bank statement has hit us like a cold snap. Nothing can take the pep out of our step into this new year.
And to keep that momentum going, we’re starting the year off with a BANG at one of our busiest trade shows of the year, CES. If you’re continuing the holiday partying in Vegas the next few weeks (hats off to you) throw caution to the wind and venture off the Strip and to the Las Vegas World Trade Center for some out-of-this-world tech and trade. And centers.
Q. Hi, there. Please tell us you name and title, here to start things off.
A. Kate Chouinard, Packaging Engineering Manager.
Q. And what exactly does a Packing Engineering Manager do at Sphero every day?
A. I, along with Rory (Art Director) and Chrissy (Jr. Packaging Engineer), make all the packing for Sphero products.
Q. Our packaging is pretty fantastic, if we do say so ourselves. What advice can you offer for someone looking to get into the same thing?
A. Do multiple internships and figure out what you prefer working on. You can do a lot of different things in this field and branch into a lot of different aspects of business.
Q. So, what are you currently working on?
A. Working on packaging for all Sphero projects, licensed projects and Education projects.
Q. Busy. Ok, so besides creating lots of beautiful packaging, what do you love most about working at Sphero?
A. I like the small startup mentality. Within one week of starting at Sphero, I traveled to China to source Vendors for Ollie. It was a little crazy but a fantastic learning experience.
Q. Do you have a favorite bot of ours?
A. I like Ollie. It was fun to watch it come together and I feel like I know the most about that product.
Q. Have any favorite activities you like to do outside of work?
A. Anything outside, really. Run, ski, camp, fish…
Q.Basically all the things. This may be redundant, but what is your favorite part of living in Colorado?
A. The weather.
Q. Wasn’t expecting that. Awesome. And can you recommend a favorite must-see place?
A. Hmmm…I really like to travel, so if it’s limited to Colorado, I would say go visit Telluride. It’s beautiful.
Q. One-HUNDRED percent. Last question—what can you share about yourself that most of us don’t know?
A. I told Jake I am part of the “family”. I also like pulling pranks on people.
If the title of this blog post gave you a visual of all of us basking in a steam room eating bonbons (that’s what you do in steam rooms, right?), you’re not entirely wrong. This week is Sphero Accelerator Program Week, or SPA Week, and to quote a great wordsmith who could’ve been an ambassador for Band-Aid, it’s gettin’ HOT in heeeeeeeere.
Despite what you may think, Sphero’s engineers aren’t the only members of our team who influence our company and the products we make. Our designers, marketers, customer support service members, accountants, software developers—you name it—all have a voice in how the company operates. We recognize our next great idea can certainly come from any one of these voices and encourage their participation.
Thus, SPA Week was born, where any Spheroite can pitch an idea they have for a new Sphero product. These projects are pitched and voted on by employees. Those who win the majority of votes earn the potential to be put into production and be the next great Sphero product put into your hands.
So if ever you had aspirations to create and inspire outside the bot, SPA week’s got you covered.
Q. Good morning. What’s your name and title here?
A. Hi! My name is Bo! I'm a firmware engineer.
Q. Firmware engineer, huh? What exactly does that look like day-to-day?
A. I write the magic code that runs on and powers our robots, bringing them to life!
Q. IT’S ALIVE. What advice can you impart for those also looking be modern-day Frankensteins?
A. Lots and lots of things. Schooling in computer engineering, computer science, or electrical engineering is definitely helpful as it is a place to dedicate time to learning your interest and collaborate with like-minded peers. There are incredible communities of makers/tinkerers/hackers/hobbyists/roboticists at universities and maker-spaces all over the US, and there are also great podcasts and blogs by and for embedded engineers. The best advice I could give is to connect with a community of folks who are interested in robotics, and to dive-in and start building stuff!
Q. Can you share what you’re currently working on? Or is it super secret?
A. It's all extremely super top-secret.
Q. Figures. Ok, so what do you love most about working at Sphero?
A. We make things that bring joy to people's lives, so naturally everyone here is extremely fun-loving. I love that.
Q. Do you have a favorite bot of ours?
A. SPRK and SPRK+ are definitely my fave, because of all the amazing things you can code them to perform via Lightning Lab. I'm consistently inspired by what I see people doing all over with Lightning Lab and our robots.
Q. What do you like to do outside of work?
A. I'm a huge gamer. Catch me on Overwatch trying to rank up.
Q. WOOO! What is your favorite thing about living in Colorado?
A. The mountains. Are. Gorgeous. Snow covered Rockies are pretty amaze.
Q. YEAH, THEY ARE. Do you have a place you recommend to check out?
A. Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs, CO is pretty cool.
Q. Ok, last question—what can you tell us about yourself most people don’t know?
A. I'm the coolest but that might already be well known.
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