The Software for Good team gathers at their Uptown office at 1005 W. Franklin Avenue.
When Casey Helbling branched out on his own in 2003, the one man band software consultant didn’t exactly have it all planned out. By 2006 and still going solo, the J2EE/Java programmer had jumped headfirst into Ruby on Rails per the suggestion of a friend. Less than a year later, he had ditched Java completely and hired another developer, followed by a graphic designer.
Together they had the strength of the team. Now, all they needed was a direction.
At a pivotal point, Helbling came to the realization that “There was more than just building software” as he began to seek a bigger professional challenge that would marry his values and talents. Instead of starting a nonprofit or ditching everything he had learned about software to go save the world, he realized that the medium was the mission.
“I didn’t know what it was or how it would take shape, but I knew that I wanted to have an intentional impact,” he recalls. “I really then put two and two together, figuring that I could intentionally engage with companies that I felt were doing great things — and by proxy add to that.”
At first his quest resulted in a “brand confusion phase,” circa 2008, changing the company name from Clear Consulting to Clear Software for Good, and eventually just to Software for Good by 2010. That adjustment wasn’t easy, but has proven to be the right one.
“Now, our social ethos is found in everything we do — from who we work for to who we hire and how we code, design and create value,” he explains.
“It’s not about this cause vs. that cause, it’s not political or religious. The degree to which our clients values match ours is what gets us excited. There’s even been a few examples where we have had to say no to a client given their chosen product or industry,” he freely admits.
As Software for Good became more selective by design, it carved a niche in serving clients from musical nonprofits to biotechnology companies fighting cancer. With word spreading of a tech company dedicated to serving cause-based organizations, revenue, employees and physical space have had to keep up.
“I’m proud to be different,” said Jamey Erickson, a Creative Director who joined the team earlier this year, bringing years of experience with ‘design driven software’ on board. What started with one has led to 16 (and counting) on the Software for Good roster — and Helbing’s smile is as bright as the future.
“Once you establish a core set of values, plant your flag and build on that foundation…it makes everything else in the business a lot easier.”