Leaps of faith landed Jeff in Indy for the long haul
Jeff Ringgenberg believes in chasing after experiences and taking leaps of faith. “Whether or not it’s the right leap, you’ll always get the exercise.”
If you want to talk with a guy who has done it all, have a conversation with proud Midwesterner, Jeff Ringgenberg. As the Director of Sales & Marketing at DeveloperTown, Jeff leads growth efforts for the 37-person software design and development firm. Although his entire career has primarily been focused on organizational growth in sales and marketing positions, Jeff experienced several other industries before shifting into the technology sector.
As a big believer in career exploration, Jeff has produced casts for network TV shows, brokered corporate real estate transactions, written sketch comedy revues, marketed hotel travel platforms, and built a boutique digital agency. And those are merely the cliff notes. As he playfully puts it, “I like to think of myself as well-rounded and adaptable.” He encourages people to chase after experiences, especially during the early years of your career. “Do things that are hard and make sure your learning curve is always steep. Although every industry is wildly different, there are always parallels between each vertical. When you’re able to notice these parallels, you will have an advantage of thinking differently.”
With DeveloperTown specializing at the start of new digital products, Jeff is exposed to a wide range of concepts across industries and for companies large and small. “My experience over the last ten years has truly been the training ground for my current role here at DeveloperTown. I see all kinds of ideas, so having a diverse background and the ability to quickly adapt helps immensely.”
Jeff was born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa. After graduating from the University of Iowa, he moved to Southern California to see what life outside the Midwest was all about. “You want to talk about culture shock, try moving from small town Iowa to Los Angeles. I had $300 and a beat up Toyota 4-Runner full of my clothes, snowboard, guitar, and (in my opinion) a pretty good music collection.”
His first three years were spent working in several facets of the entertainment industry at leading studios, networks, and a “big four” talent and literary agency. “I wasn’t really exposed to filmmaking as a child and never thought I’d be at the ground level of bringing new projects to life. Reviewing screenplays was pretty neat and I met a lot of fascinating people, but I eventually discovered that the whole entertainment thing was far more enjoyable as a hobby for me than a profession. So, I got my real estate license and began interviewing at commercial real estate firms.”
He joined Grubb & Ellis (acquired by Newmark Knight Frank in 2012) where he primarily specialized in tenant representation and middle market investments. During his time at Grubb & Ellis, he was involved in brokering over $25 million dollars in real estate transactions and had the opportunity to work with top brokers and world-class organizations including University Music Group, The Tennis Channel, Boston University, and Knoll, among others.
Jeff put his career on hold in 2009 to spend time with his mother who had been diagnosed with brain cancer. “I gained a lot of personal growth during this time. I realized that it’s not always all about work, and that people really do understand that family comes first. I should have left to be with her much sooner, but I was in denial of her illness and was worried about my career. Thankfully, I could not have asked for a better business partner given the circumstances. He was completely understanding when I decided to leave, took great care of our clients, and I am fortunate to call him a friend to this day.”
After his mother passed away, Jeff moved to Chicago to be closer to friends and family. In need of a creative outlet and some good ole’ fashion fun, he began studying comedy at The Second City and iO (formerly ImprovOlympic). “It was a memorable time in my life and I loved being surrounded by so many talented, creative people.”
Concurrently, Jeff became a co-owner of Evolyte, a self-funded startup that he transformed into a boutique digital agency. “Operating my own business played a crucial role in my professional development. Every mistake we made was a deeply enriched learning opportunity and it was incredibly rewarding whenever we won a big account or launched a new product.” In less than two years, the company delivered over 50 client projects and launched three internal products including two iPhone apps and a social eCommerce platform. “We were very fortunate to have worked on so many significant projects for some unbelievable companies.”
Just before moving to Indianapolis, Jeff lived in Kansas City, where he worked for Starwood Hotels and managed the business travel programs for The Westin and Sheraton Kansas City Hotels at Crown Center. “Although my time with Starwood was valuable, the highlights of my time in Kansas City had little to do with my career path. The real highlights were meeting my better half (Loran) and her miniature Schnauzer (Mac), and us later rescuing a Schnauzer/Lab mix (August).”
When the two started thinking about a move to another city, the options were Denver, Chicago, and Indianapolis. With Loran being a native to Indianapolis and having all her family here, the built-in support system was already in place. The icing on the cake came when Loran was offered a position at Eli Lilly. “The stars couldn’t have aligned any better than they did.”
When asked what he thinks of his new city, Jeff exclaims, “Indianapolis is highly underrated!” This wasn’t his first impression, however. “I knew very little about Indianapolis before moving, so I admit that I was a little worried at first. Thankfully, Loran put together an agenda for us to explore Indy during our first week here and I was quickly put at ease after that initial week. She introduced me to the canals and walked me around downtown before taking me to several shops along Mass Ave. I think that was the first time I experienced Yats, which I still frequent regularly.”
Yats isn’t the only restaurant that Jeff has grown to love here in Indianapolis. He is a self-proclaimed sucker for good sushi, creative pizza, and good ole’ fashion wings. “We’ve tried so many sushi places since living here and I think H2O in Broad Ripple is my favorite thus far. As for pizza, I’m currently leaning toward Napolese and for wings, I highly recommend getting the Cajun dry rub wings at Keystone Sports Review.”
Through a series of serendipitous connections, Jeff accepted a position at one of the most cutting-edge tech companies in Indianapolis. “Fate continued to work its magic. I met a guy who knew a guy sort of thing and it just worked out. I am grateful for the opportunity here at DeveloperTown and to be part of the continuous growth happening in and around the local tech community.”
Jeff’s role at DeveloperTown is leading growth efforts and strategic partnerships. “I have the opportunity to work with so many entrepreneurial people who are solving a wide array of everyday problems. Whether it’s an entrepreneur with a startup concept or an idea-maker within a large company developing a new product, we specialize at the start of new ventures.”
To say that DeveloperTown has unconventional office space is an understatement. When establishing the company’s office environment, the founding partners wanted to spark creativity, embrace individuality, and solve one key problem – create a collaborative workplace for their employees while also providing these people with private offices to work without distractions. With a mobile office environment, each employee has his or her own “house” on wheels. This allows DeveloperTown to quickly re-arrange teams based upon project assignments and enhance collaboration while also giving employees their own office to go, turn on a “do not disturb” light, and get some work done.
Facing new challenges each and every day, Jeff loves his new gig. “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. I’m in the right room every day.”
As for the people that make up Indianapolis, Jeff has nothing but positive remarks. “The people here are great. Most have a ‘how can I help’ attitude rather than a ‘what can you do for me’ attitude.”
His geographical location wasn’t the only thing that changed for Jeff when he moved to Indianapolis. “I’m proud to be a Hoosier. Seriously, I now have a 317 area code and Indianapolis t-shirt to match!”
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