From working his magic on cells as an “Excel Wizard” to helping people track transit in a truly OMG way, Matt Decuir has worn a lot of hats. Although he doesn’t seem to be wearing one in his picture here. Hm. Maybe that’s where the business name comes from…
This is A Workday With Mat Decuir, Founder of The Invisible Network.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a self-taught software engineer and entrepreneur who tends to solve community problems.
I’m from Seattle originally, where I started my career as a data analyst (past colleagues affectionately referred to me as an “Excel Wizard”), but I moved to the Twin Cities seven years ago because my wife came here for grad school. Shortly after moving here, I stumbled into starting both Break The Bubble, an event series to help Minnesotans make new friends, and OMG Transit, a real-time transit app.
In working on both of those projects, I realized that I was capable of a lot more than what my resume showed (data analysis), and so I set out to move into product management. I joined Kidizen, and while product management didn’t work out, it was the place where I transitioned my career into software development. I pitched the idea to leadership and they were supportive, so I started spending all my free time outside of work learning. After six months I was slowly but surely coding at work, but unfortunately they were running out of money and had to let half the team go. But I was able to use this as an opportunity to get my first full-time dev job and cut my teeth as a developer at GovDelivery/Granicus over the ensuing two and a half years (shoutout to Scott Burns for taking a chance on me — you’re the best, Scott!).
Going through that career transition alone was really hard, and it made me realize that there were many other folks who were going through the same thing. I saw another opportunity here, and with a friend’s help, we started Mpls Jr Devs, a community of aspiring and less experienced software Engineers in the Twin Cities. It was born at Minnebar in 2017, and we’ve been putting on monthly, volunteer-run events ever since.
As I was going through a recent job search, I was reminded how frustrating that experience can be, even when you have marketable skills, a large network, and a process that consistently works. During that process, I had a conversation with Thompson Aderinkomi which was the spark that led to The Invisible Network, an anonymous job search tool designed to make the job search a better experience. I’ve been working on it full-time for a little over a year now, and things have been going really well, although I never imagined that I’d end up working on a startup in the realm of hiring. But with that said, I view helping people find jobs as a community problem that needs a community solution, which is exactly what we’re trying to do here.
What time do you rise and shine?
Normally around 7 a.m., but lately it’s been closer to 8am 😱
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Cold brew with cream.
What’s the first work-related task you tackle each morning?
Coding. I find that I do my best thinking first thing in the morning when my brain is fresh, and I try to focus that time on the most important dev task of the day.
What is your workspace setup?
Normally it’s just my Macbook Pro, although I do have an external monitor set up on my standing desk. Being stuck in a 1BR apartment amid covid has forced me to get creative in how I vary my surroundings on a daily basis. Depending on the day and how I’m feeling, I might be standing, sitting at the kitchen table, lounging on the Fat Boy™️, sitting in a chair, the couch, or some combination of all of the above.
What’s the most interesting/fun/meaningful thing on your desk?
I try really hard to keep my desk clear because I’m very distractible and a clean workspace helps me focus. But if I had a fixed desk in an office, you’d probably find a framed picture of my wife and I from when we first started dating.
What’s one piece of tech you can’t live without?
What do you need to get done before lunch to feel like you had a productive morning?
Make progress on some code.
What are you listening to these days?
There’s a Disney Hits playlist on Spotify that’s pretty great.
What is your current TV obsession?
“Homeland” and “Letterkenny.”
What’s the last movie you saw and what would you rate it (out of five stars)?
My wife and I are rewatching the Pixar movies in order, and we just watched “Cars.” I’d give it a 4 out of 5.
What book would we find on your nightstand?
I usually read fiction before bed, and am currently reading “Skyward” by Brandon Sanderson.
Cats or dogs?
Dogs, even though I’m allergic to some of them.
The best part about living in Minnesota is…
It’s so flat that you can bike everywhere!
How do you fend off the post-lunch lull?
Unclear. I’m still trying to figure that one out 😆
What do you use to stay organized during a hectic day?
I swear by Notion for managing tasks and have it set up for two-week sprints, even though I’m a team of one (at the moment). The ceremony of doing retrospectives and sprint plannings every two weeks helps me a lot to take a step back and reflect.
What’s a recent work-related challenge you had to conquer? Walk us through your process.
I just completed a bunch of work to switch over our domain from invisiblenetwork.io to invisiblenetwork.com, which was a long time coming. My process usually starts with working backwards from the big picture goal, clarifying any questions and uncertainty, and then getting answers to those questions before doing any of the actual work. From there, I break the tasks into small, manageable chunks, prioritize, and then start working through them.
What’s one thing everyone could do to be more productive?
It really depends on the person. For me, I find that avoiding email, social media, and other things that might be distracting help a lot.
What’s the last work-related thing you do every day?
Close all my browser tabs so I can start with a clean slate the next day.
How do you decompress at the end of a long workday?
What time do you usually hit the hay?
11 to 11:30 p.m.
Anything upcoming with The Invisible Network?
We’ll be adding internship matching to our platform very soon, in hopes that we can help connect interns and companies that offering internships/apprenticeships.
Photos courtesy of The Invisible Network.
If there’s a community thought leader or founder who you’d like to see featured in our “A Workday With—” series, contact us on Twitter @TECHdotMN or email [email protected] with the subject line “A Workday With— Submission.”