micah rajunov

Who am I?

I'm an awesome little person.

You can stop reading now. Really, that's all there is to it: I'm a person, quite a little one, and pretty darn awesome.

Want to know more huh? Well, I was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico Country. Prior to the San Francisco Bay I spent 6 years in Philadelphia, studying in a college called UPenn (affectionately known as not Penn State). Since true learning happens outside the classroom, I wisely skipped class to befriend the squirrels.

Although I no longer roll out of bed at 7am for yoga, I still sweat a mean work out in my living room. On weekends when I'm not brunched out, I grab my chalk bag and go rock climbing. I've taught myself to play the drums through many years of Rockband. We recently bought the Catan Seafarers expansion pack in hopes that board game night becomes a regular occurrence.

Usually I can be found curled up on the couch with my statistically significant other and our stuffed animals (the landlord still won't let us have a puppy) addictively watching some amazing TV series that got canceled during the writer's strike. I can't juggle, dribble, or sing, eliminating a few career choices for me. I feel most at home at a beach or near a body of water. And I always strive to color-coordinate my wardrobe.

I believe that almost-anything can be interesting, if you look hard enough.

If you're still intrigued and want to get in touch, it's best to email me.

What do I do?

For handy-dandy referencing, here's a resumé

Before my sabbatical, I engineered at Collective Health

Everyone has a story about that time they went to the doctor or had to deal with their health insurance and how horrific it was. Healthcare in the US is broken, and Collective Health is making inroads to shake up health insurance from the ground up, and turn it into a pleasant experience that helps care for people's health.

As a small cog in the grand plan, I helped create a beautiful UI so Members and Employers can manage their health insurance plan on the web or their phone.

Finally, an insurance plan that uses technology from this millenium.

I was Head of Awesomeness at Whitetruffle

What's Head of Awesomeness, you ask? Think of it as Director of Product, with more pzazz.

After merely a month, I'd already redesigned our internal matching tool, initiated user research, upgraded to the latest version of Bootstrap, created an in-depth product assessment, poked at business goals, and raised the awesomeness level by at least 87% just by wearing brightly colored shirts every day.

Over the course of a year and a half, I rearchitected the UI with a little framework called AngularJS. As the sole designer and front-end engineer, early-adopting ng back in its v1.0.x incarnation (when there were zero hits on Stack Overflow for any head-desk-banging issues you'd come across) was truly a challenge.

Yet our lean team of The Three Bromigos bravely musketeered through the Candidate Experience, courageously conquered Company components, with a victorious finale in Project Inbox (currently in Beta), all while teaching the matching algorithm to learn by machine. Screenshots don't do the UI justice, nor do screencasts of the registration flow or the candidate profile. I conceived a brand new internal analytics tool, combining Flot charts with artisinal hand-crafted SQL for extra flair. And as a small, size-conscious individual, I make sure every page responsibly lives up to phone-sized standards.

I produced Productivity in the Product team at Desk.com logo Desk.com

My official title was UI Designer, but that wasn't entirely descriptive of what I did. My first task every morning was an ongoing scavenger hunt to find decent coffee, and perhaps breakfast. After checking my email, you could find me engaging in a variety of daily geekery, such as:

  • baked-from-scratch Photoshop-to-SASS-to-CSS (I'll throw in some creative interpretation for free)
  • finicking with a particular icon and whether its subtle meaning would be lost on the user
  • front-end magic
  • wireframes, nothing out of the ordinary
  • drafting an enticing blog post for the newest released feature
  • discussing Lean startup machines
  • user research and customer discovery, ie scary interviews
  • shielding myself from the crossfire of nerf darts

Alas, a designer's work is never done. Thankfully there was a team of widely creative people with which I exchanged bits of knowledge and continued to grow my repertoire as a contributor of the web.

My first startup home was at Expensify logo Expensify

For such a small person, I had very big tasks at Expensify. As first Design hire, my first endeavor was to redesign the entire app. This lengthy process involved:

  • making flows out of post-its on my wall
  • shiny mock ups
  • color palettes and icon sets
  • creating a style guide, not only for design but for code
  • beating people up when they did not follow the style guide
  • a blog post documenting the process

Finally prettified on the outside, it was time to do the same with the codebase. So I put on my engineering hat, shoes, and belt buckle, and baked a Javascrtipt MVC architecture from scratch.

There's not much more to it than that. As proof, here are some screenshots.

Did I mention we had our own giant billboard on I-80?

My humble beginnings as a Developer were at Mint Digital

Work in NYC, live in PHL. Yeah, it was a long commute.

Not only did Mint Digital put their faith in me to pick up Ruby on Rails from scratch, they also offered the amazing opportunity of attending 2 yearly conferences. The collective energy of thousands of passionate people in the same room was truly inspirational. Since then, I'm a conference junkie, though I don't get the chance to fuel my addiction as often as I'd like. Plus, I have them to thank for my impeccable mastery of object oriented CSS.

In college I self-interned and built my first app

Nowadays it seems so far off, but I am still really proud of this achievement. During a hot and humid Philadelphia summer I decided to take it upon myself to finish a class project. With the help of my partner, we cranked out a full-fledged Course Review site.

This was the first time I was truly coding a web app, complete with PHP functions, http redirects, and regex parsing, accompanied by the headaches of newly discovered IE cross browser nightmares, delving into the complexity of CSS sprites, wading through ajax calls using raw javascript, and getting a call from my hosting provider for bringing down the DB because of an infinite MySQL query. I even sent it to my mom in an effort to "user test" the UI. And we stupidly minified the whole thing to decrease load times... with no backup!

What is most notable of this endeavor is the success with which it launched. Through minimal guerrilla advertising, we managed to sign up a large chunk of the undergraduate community. Due to unfortunate pestering by the university's administration (yes, even 8 years later) I've decided to shut down the abandoned project in order to spare me the hassle. Though perhaps there will be a rebirth sometime in the future...

How does the magic happen?

One could say I am a classically trained Computer Scientist. Or Mathematician. Or Designer. I'm even a Psychologist. Truthfully, I feel I'm not trained to do anything in particular, but rather everything in general.

I'd best describe myself as a learner. I can and would like to learn everything (with a few exceptions...). Behind this ability is a strong foundation in thinking, a skill which is perhaps closest to that phenomenon dubbed "being smart," just not in the human-calculator sense.

Creativity juices are sometimes hard to squeeze, but there is always a steady stream of quirky playfulness bouncing around in my head. Moreover, my passion for eigenspaces and linear algebra is tangible in overanalyzed abstractions, which would in theory provide a living were it more useful. Indeed, the two are never apart, as evidenced in my fanciful wordplay which usually nobody gets, and my overly neat notetaking abilities.

Thus, the process of problem solving is always at work. A challenge becomes enjoyable when it involves a unique puzzle in which none of the pieces are identifiable shapes. Sometimes it is a simple matter of stepping through established patterns, not bothering to reinvent the wheel for the sake of getting it done. Occasionally inspiration will hit, the most common occasion being walking down the street. Or when cleverly joking around a fun group of people.


Why indeed...

Why do I do what I do? Why do we do anything, really? To be happy. And if that's not your answer, you probably need to rethink your life strategy. So it really comes down to, this is what makes me happy. This: working on ideas, building products, creating usefulness, playful practicality, learning something new every day. Ultimately, I'm just looking at pixelated code all day, and it's the people looking at it with me that make it fun, and make me happy.