Name: Jerred Hurst
Position: Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
The majority of my time is spent with the software team...working to manage all of the different projects. I’m still doing development as well.
So everyday would start with Kade (CEO) and I just talking about the business, the challenges, the things we need to work on and the things that we’re doing well particularly for that day…not much further than that. Then, I talk about the web team with Jimmy (COO) as far as the overall operations. He’s got a handle on the details of stuff right now, so I’m just working with him on a high level with the web team.
I graduated from Texas Tech in 2002 with a degree in MIS. MIS is Management Information Systems, which basically was a trained innovative consultant. So not necessarily a developer, but to know just enough to talk about it. When I was going to school to do that, I was more interested in the actual development part. So after I graduated, I went back to school for computer science and did a couple of semesters. But once I got in there, I realized they weren’t teaching any hands-on stuff. That whole period of college, I kind of taught myself development. So I’ve been developing since then, and even did it as a side hustle until Kade and I started working together.
What was your first job?
I was a dishwasher at a local restaurant.
Can you talk about the work you did before Primitive Social?
I worked full-time at my family’s business, Hurst Farm Supply, doing all their IT work from 2001 to 2013.
My first side hustle in college was called JCH Solutions, and it was just website development. Back then, websites were super simple. So I had JCH Solutions for eight years.
After that, my wife and I had a bagel shop by Texas Tech called Hoot's Bagels. There was a family with that last name that had a bagel shop in Kingsgate forever, so basically we started a satellite store under their name because everyone in Lubbock knew their name. Then we sold it to some other people.
Then, my brother-in-law from Boulder, Colorado and one of his friends started getting some clients for websites, and so we made a new company called Clever Melon. They were kind of selling for me and I was still doing the majority of the development, and we got enough business that I brought on another developer who happened to be my cousin. So we were doing our thing up until the point when I met Kade, and at that point it was kind of perfect timing. With Clever Melon, all of the other guys were kind of fizzling out and all of my stuff with Kade was picking up. So that’s how I transitioned into Primitive Social.
How have you grown since?
I think the variety of all the different jobs benefited me in different ways. At my family’s business, I was basically working for someone at a very well organized, old business. Then, I went to doing my own thing with Clever Melon, where you basically have to hustle everyday to make it work. So that kind of gave me a combination of awesome jobs to learn from.
Tell us how you helped start Primitive Social.
Kade and I met at Crossfit, and we both had our own businesses. Then, he overheard me talking to another guy about a website I was working on. At that point, Kade was outsourcing all of his web development to contract developers and was not enjoying it because he didn't have control over the process, timeline or anything. So he asked if I wanted to work on a site with him and I said yes, of course. So we did it and it worked out well for both of us. We found out we have a lot of similarities in our work ethic. Our personalities are quite different, but I think they compliment each other. We just really enjoyed working together. One project turned into a hundred projects.
At one point, Clever Melon was still operating in the background...but all of the invoices were coming from Primitive Social. That was kind of our way of “dating” before we got “married”, and so we did that for a while and then a business coach that Kade was working with came into town. We spent a few days with him, and one of the topics was about keeping our businesses separate and the best way to do that. I think the question he asked us was, “Are you better together, or apart?” So we went to the whiteboard and started mapping out things, and it looked intensive that we merge things...even if we didn't like to give up our own thing. After we put some thought into it, it made the most sense and to this point it’s been right. So that’s kind of where we’ve been, and some of the ways that Primitive Social has expanded due to our merging is obviously the amount of websites we’re doing. Along with that is the software team has kind of exploded, and we’re doing massive software projects that we knew we had the capabilities of.
What made your partnership work so well?
I think the best reference that Kade uses all the time is he’s the balloon and I’m the string. So he’s all about growth and going crazy, and I’m more conservative. I think our personalities complement each other, and it’s helped us to create a really aggressive-but-stable business model.
Did your vision for Primitive Social match the way it has grown?
I honestly had no idea it would be this size. I mean, the vision for the kind of work that we do is exactly what we had hoped for. But I didn't know we would get here as fast, as far as having our own video team, the digital team doing the size of accounts they’re working with, the inbound team having the kind of results that they do, along with having our own software team. I think I had envisioned all of that, but I had no idea that it would all be in full force a few years later. I want our business to continue to grow like that, in a sustainable way.
What’s your secret to managing in-house and remote workers?
I have no secret. I think we just have good people. Of course there's daily management tasks, but we also have built a good leadership team. So the in-house part is pretty easy due to the kind of people that we have, and the same for the remote employees. We had to learn the hard way when we had only a couple of remote employees that we didn't know what we were doing in handling the relationship with remote employees. But we’ve learned from that. Now I think through our video communication on a daily basis and Slack-calling people, getting to hear each other’s voices on a daily basis makes them feel like they’re more a part of the team. We definitely do not have it perfected, but we’re learning everyday.
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
If I was going to name one outside of Primitive Social, it would be that I built the inventory management software that Hurst Farm Supply runs their entire sales process off of. I’m pretty proud of that.
At Primitive Social, every custom software project that we get to build just feels really good at the end because basically we took a business’s problem and solved it with technology. We made it more efficient and made it more cost-effective for them, and so when we cross the finish line with each one of those, it always feels good because we’ve solved their problem.
Do you have a work playlist? What’s on it?
I usually listen to a Mumford & Sons station. I don't really have time to put together a playlist.
Do you have a daily routine?
I wake up at 5 every morning, I’ve done it forever. I don’t have an alarm or anything, I just wake up at 5. So I have coffee and catch up on work and emails and then do my workout, which is usually a run. Then I come into the office and do whatever is on my plate for that day.
How do you stay motivated?
I think I was born that way. I am competitive by nature, so it doesn't matter what I am doing...I want to be the best I can be at it. I was that way with athletics, and I guess I still am the same way with work. I want our business to be the best it can be, so that’s my motivation. I go to bed and wake up thinking about how I can make it better.
What do you like to do outside of the office?
I like to be outside doing anything. I enjoy working out, obviously. I used to do it a lot more because I was competitive about it, but I love running and riding my bike outside. I love playing sports with my kids. My kids are super into all kinds of sports: soccer, baseball, basketball...anything outside.
How do you juggle work and family life?
Honestly at this stage in our lives, I’m pretty much forced to balance it to some point because of all the activities the kids have going on. So in the evenings and the weekends, we’re typically at a game of some sort. I don't ever miss their games. I make that a priority. Then at home, I don't put my phone in a basket or not look at it, but I do make it a priority to listen and talk to my kids. We always sit down at the dinner table and everybody tells their favorite part of the day, and all that kind of stuff. But I would definitely say I have a lot to work on in that perspective, just because of how busy we are.
What is something not everyone knows about you?
I got into IRONMAN triathlons and trained competitively for five years and raced them for 10 years. It started after I had just married my wife, and I was out of shape. Her brother and his friends came in from Austin to do a triathlon at Buffalo Springs Lake, so we hung out that weekend and I watched them do that race and I was like, “I want to do that.” So I started training and, of course when you first do it, it’s just for fun. Then, if you have a competitive nature like I do, then you want to do it for more than just fun. This was before kids, so I devoted quite a bit of time to it. To be competitive in that, it’s a long event so you have to put in a lot of hours training. So when I was at my most, I was probably training 25 hours a week. The event itself was like 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and then a 26.2 mile run: a marathon. My goal was to get to the KONA race, that’s the world championship…not as a pro, but as an age grouper. You have to qualify at a race and it’s pretty challenging, but I was able to get there in 2007 and check it off my bucketlist. I almost died out there. Not literally, but it was really tough.
Who do you admire?
I admire my dad. He took our farm supply when my grandad left it to him, which was a fairly small business, and brought it to a massive business with a faith-based attitude. He puts God first in everything, and I admire him a lot. He’s supported me in everything I’ve ever done. I also admire my wife for the same thing…for always supporting me, putting up with my crazy obsessions and just being there for me.
What is your secret to success?
I think probably just my internal drive to keep going. I don’t give up on things, so I think when you don't have success is when you give up on whatever it is you’re doing.