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Aug. 14, 2014 12:00 pm

Why SmartLogic is hiring a community engagement director ‘for Baltimore’

Nearly a decade old and with $1.5 million in 2013 revenue, Canton-based SmartLogic is among the better known web dev firms in Baltimore. But founder Yair Flicker thinks the company can do more to build a broader ecosystem.

Most of the SmartLogic team, July 2014.

(Photo courtesy of SmartLogic)

Yair Flicker, the founder of web dev firm SmartLogic, is hiring a Director of Marketing & Community Engagement. But if he finds the right person for the role — he’s already gotten more than 80 applications, he said — it won’t look like other community managers.

“It’s not for SmartLogic,” he said over lunch at Mission BBQ last week. “It’s for Baltimore.”

broom factory

The Canton Broom Factory building. (Photo by Christopher Wink)

That hire would be SmartLogic’s 12th full-timer, most of whom work out of the open floor plan, third-floor office inside the Canton Broom Factory at 3500 Boston St.

The new position serves as a fine marker of how Flicker has tried to build a software contracting team at a national level while maintaining its Baltimore flair (at least five staffers regularly bike to the office, including the 31-year-old Flicker).

Since founding the company after graduating from Hopkins in 2005, Flicker, mercurial and strong-willed, has been an early Baltimore tech community builder.

He’s the one who counted up every single slice of pizza eaten at the local tech meetups Smartlogic sponsored in 2011 and 2012, as a measure of growth. His assessment then? Either there was real growth in the number of people coming to these social and professional events or they were a lot hungrier.

His one-person Berlin office has shuttered for now — an experiment that isn’t the right fit, he said — but there are still a handful of international exceptions to SmartLogic’s mostly Baltimore-area-based clientele. Flicker flies to Israel and Europe to meet with customers from time to time.

“No company is ever done, just like no technology is ever finished if it’s still growing,” said Flicker. “Even restaurants change their menus.”

It’s something that seems to fit Flicker. He has a curiosity and the motivation to want to test global waters, but he’s still very focused on his Baltimore home.

Which brings us back to that community manager he’s looking to hire.

That person won’t tend to SmartLogic’s existing staff or exclusively serve as an informal recruiter — a real need in the technical hiring climate of today. Instead, Flicker said, the new community engagement role will serve as a liaison, aiming to connect and convene a broader ecosystem.

smartlogic-flicker

Inside the SmartLogic offices. SmartLogic Client Services Manager Brian Sierakowski, left, and CEO Yair Flicker. (Photo by Christopher Wink)

The new hire would, for example, take over the organizing of BohConf, the web dev conference SmartLogic runs. And while there are clear recruiting and lead generation benefits for Flicker, he says there are other events like that he’d encourage this staffer to take on.

“It’s someone’s responsibility to fill that role for Baltimore,” he said.

SmartLogic already has a presence in the community. Flicker himself is active, but there’s also Brian Sierakowski, the client services manager he brought on from OrderUp, a surging digital food franchising company that is based in the same building. Sierakowski was part of the TeamPassword team that won the 2012 Baltimore Startup Weekend that then splintered into two competing groups. Is there any bad blood between SmartLogic and OrderUp? Of course not. OrderUp is still one of SmartLogic’s clients.

“It was the right move for me, and we love what those guys are doing,” said Sierakowski, 27, who can switch between silly and savvy with ease.

bohconf

A BohConf poster. (Photo by Christopher Wink)

It’s the kind of thing that Flicker might discuss with his team at their 10 a.m. meeting each weekday, when all the company’s Baltimore-based employees come together to stand in the office, passing a rugby ball around, sharing a new idea or something challenging that had come up in the last 24 hours. (Their additional team-members working from Hawaii and Portland might object to the timing.)

In 2013, SmartLogic did $1.55 million in revenue, Flicker said. About a third of their revenue is from mobile work, the rest from web and software development. This fall, the company will unveil a new logo.

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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