Meet a Minnesota [Startup] CTO: Ryan Abrahamson

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RyanAbrahamsonThank you to Andcor Companies for underwriting the Meet a Minnesota CTO series.

Ryan Abrahamson is the CTO of Plymouth-based IndusTrack, a hardware + software startup operating in the fleet management and GPS tracking space.

How long have you been working in technology for and what is your technical background?

I have been working in the technical industry for over 18 years. I started out as an Electrical Engineering intern for Emerson Process in Eden Prairie while still an undergraduate. I switched quickly to software development for the PC and have spent the last 17 years developing using Microsoft technologies and managing teams. I have a BS Electrical Engineering from NDSU.

What are you focused on right now?

I am currently focused on scaling the back end of our data collection system that we have in Microsoft Azure. The platform is ever evolving and price structures are changing, so there is a constant need for evaluation and evolution.

What are the some of the technologies within your company and IT environment?

We are primarily a Microsoft shop, so most of our stack centers around that. Our main application is a WPF application with some embedded Silverlight, while our backend are all Azure Technologies like Service Bus, SQL Azure, Azure Storage, and Worker Roles.

Andcor CTO

How do you ensure that IT plans, projects and objectives are aligned with business outcomes?

I learned long ago working for several startups that technology has to serve the business not the other way around. At the of the day, people buy functionality. The coolness of pretty widgets wear off pretty quickly if they don’t do anything meaningful. Therefore any project we do has to be tied to business value, either through functional requirements or non-functional requirements.

What is the size of your department (headcount) and how is it organized/managed?

We are a pretty lean department with only person heading each area, Engineering, Customer Support, and QA. We manage most of our work offshore with partners in India and Pakistan for doing the heavy lifting.

How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions in an increasingly competitive market?

We focus on finding the right personality and motivation to fit the company. I am more concerned with finding a person that will blend well with the team, than ticking all the technical boxes. If they have a solid technical foundation, the right person will be able to learn the rest from the team and other resources and be in a position to learn new things as well as teach new things.

How do you personally keep up with the ever changing technology landscape?

I love to ticker with technology. I follow lots people on twitter and read lots of sources of tech news. Most importantly I do my own little ‘projects’ with technologies that circle around our current technology to see if we could benefit from it. I feel it is important to understand how something works fundamentally over simply reading about it.

What excites you about where technology is heading?

I am excited about the IoT (Internet of Things) and the increasing ability to bring enterprise level functionality to a platform that fits in your hand. The ability to connect sensors and switches to smart phones and other connected devices is opening up a new level of automation and information.

What concerns you about where technology is heading?

I worry for the loss of fundamentals, in an increasingly framework driven world. It is one thing to know how to do something and to be given the tool to make a job easier, or more efficient. It is another thing to only know the tool, and nothing about what it does, or why it was so great in the first place.

What are you into outside of technology?

I am a drummer, I play with “The Execs” jazz band in Edina. I am also into hot rods and old cars. When not tinkering on a computer, I am usually up to my elbows in grease of some sort.

What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry?

I think Minnesota has a very healthy tech industry. There are lots of opportunities for people at all levels with the number of high tech companies here along with our strong university system. MN in general has a high number of people who stay here after graduating so it is great that we are able to feed that back into the system.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

True happiness comes from the pursuit of something you believe in. I came across a quote from Mark Twain “The 2 two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you discover why”.

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