(Photo by R.J. Townsend)
Some people view Wilmington as a starter city, a proving ground, a place to live and work before moving to a bigger city like Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. or Baltimore.
Not R.J. Townsend.
He moved from the West Coast a decade ago for a University of Delaware Ph.D. program. During his three prior decades in California and Arizona, Townsend studied data analysis. For his master’s thesis, he focused on No Child Left Behind achievement scores and managed the process of data collection and data analysis. His driving question: “How can I automate this?”
In 2006, Townsend decided he wanted to create his own tools to manage research projects. He solely launched Cultivate — Drupal-heavy web design company that creates complex websites and applications — in an office in Old City, Philadelphia.
Then last year, he had a change of heart about his office location.
During the I-495 shutdown last summer, Townsend reevaluated his need to commute from Delaware to Philadelphia, which had been lingering in his mind for a bit, he said. A few months later, he relocated to 2nd and Market Streets in Wilmington.
“I see Wilmington as 10 years behind Philly on the tech scene. There are a lot of great things going on here and I like being a part of the startup tech scene in Delaware,” Townsend said. “One of the nice things about the location is that it’s two blocks from the Amtrak station. It’s great for clients in Philly and D.C. It’s a great pitch to say we’re two blocks from the train.”
In 2006, Townsend was a one-man show; in 2009, he hired three additional employees, who still work together today.
The team works with clients like NBCUniversal, Sprout, Reputation.com, Rutgers, Penn State and other agencies to provide scalable websites — anything from simple landing pages to ecommerce sites, Townsend said.
In addition to operating Cultivate, Townsend also serves as an adjunct professor at Wilmington University, where he teaches a graduate-level course (“Internet Development and Design for Competitive Advantage”).
He has also authored two books on Drupal — Foundational Drupal 7 and Enterprise Drupal 8 Development, which will be released later this year. He’s also working on a side project: Salescog.com, which will help affiliate marketers better monetize their blogs, he said.
Townsend said he is connecting with local technology groups like the Delaware Startup Leaders and Start It Up Delaware. As the newbie in town, he said any and all are welcome to drop by the office at 221 N. Market St., to talk tech or play a game of pool.