Welcome to a new series of “Meet the Team” blogs from Mycroft. Given our proximity to Christmas, we’re kicking off with our most Santa-like team member, Darren Courtney, AKA Battle Dwarf. Darren joined the team in April of 2017 as Facilities and Production Manager. Darren led the assembly and shipping of the 1500+ Mark I’s that fulfilled our first Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Once the initial assembly run was complete, Darren moved into the Mycroft Support Team. Darren also works in prototyping and maintains inventory and shipping of Mark I’s.
Recently, with 3D printers whirring in the background making Mark II prototypes, I had a chat with Darren about him, his job, and Mycroft.
So Darren, what are your daily tasks?
I do Production, Shipping, Customer Support, Facilities, and Maintenance
What are your favorite things to do in a day?
Anything to do with prototyping and the 3D printers, or the laser cutters. Any time I can make something that’s what I like to do.
And what about your least favorite?
Paperwork. Paperwork and spreadsheets really aren’t my thing. But, I know that it’s absolutely important.
This was at a time we were struggling to find a new speaker that fit inside Mark I cases. So Darren continued:
Vendor relationships also aren’t fun right now. Sometimes vendors end-of-life something that’s on the unit and we have to go source another speaker, or chip, or even an SD card. And to them, it doesn’t matter and they don’t have to tell you.
So it’s tough when something gets end-of-lifed and you don’t get a lot of feedback. So you’re saying you love good customer relations?
Of course, and as far as my role in customer support, I try to take that mindset and talk to our people the same way. Everyone likes being nice.
So you’re saying, having the multi-faceted job that you have means that you get the good and the bad when you deal with support, and that helps you come back to our channels and improve.
Right. You learn lessons and you know how you’d react when someone won’t work with you and I can turn that around and say I’ll never do that to someone I’m working with. Customer Support is also one of my favorite things to do. Really, our Community drives us. We’re forwarded 100% by our fans so I have to come back from bad situations and at least look at where I’d be if I were in their shoes.
So what’s one of the favorite interactions you’ve had with a Mycroft Community member?
One of my very favorite interactions I’ve had is when we worked out a special arrangement with the father of an autistic child. The boy had created his own robot. Then he saw Mycroft and hit his dad up for it. They wanted to build it from scratch, but it’s really hard to make a PCB from scratch. So we sent them the custom things they couldn’t make or buy online. That’s one of the things I love about this company. When I forward something like that on to Nate, he’ll say “what would you do if it was your family?” Of course, I say I’d give it to them and Nate says “well do that.” That’s cool – when you can give back to people.
Another thing is having people add me on LinkedIn, and want to be part of the network, that’s a big deal.
Awesome. What’s one of the most difficult things?
Learning to program. That’s to be a better support agent. I hope to have a one-email resolution to every issue. And of course you can’t do that every time but if I reduce how often I have to hand off an email to a developer, that’s what I’d like to do. But that’s also the most difficult thing – pushing myself to learn more.
Cool. Walk us through a day in the life.
Well, I get in about 6:45 and check email. There might be a really bad fire in email, so that’s why it’s first. Then I run through support and usually that’ll take me until 11, maybe 11:30 sometimes.
Then I fulfill orders and do troubleshooting for units if I have any. Fulfilling orders includes building the units usually, printing a packing label, packing them up, shipping them out, and overcoming any bugs in the process. Then usually I’ve had people respond to tech support so I’ll get back into that in the afternoon. Then a lot of times things will come up I need to get done.
Recently, it’s been a lot of prototyping. Then, if I have more time, I have it scheduled to work on programming.
What are some of the most common questions that come up in Mycroft support?
I would say the most common questions are around how to install Picroft. That one and recently, password resets have become an issue. As far as real tech support, they’re getting more complicated recently. It seems people are getting their easy questions answered by search. There’s also been a lot of things about translations recently. People are still getting used to the Translate Suite.
Anything else you want to say?
We have a wonderful Community! Everybody is nice – I haven’t run into anyone who wasn’t polite, courteous and super smart. Honestly, I love working here. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, for real. I work with the best team of people you could ever work with. And it’s fun! Who doesn’t want to change the world? I think we’re gonna change the world and sooner rather than later.
Thanks to Darren for all he does. This interview didn’t bring up how often he’s troubleshooting and cleaning the 3D printers, laser cutting faceplates for Mark I, and keeping the Lawrence office ship-shape. Look forward to our next team member profile soon!
Eric has played a number of roles at Mycroft, including executive support, sales and biz dev, marketing, analytics, and donut guy.
His favorite thing to do is man the demo booth at events and meet the Community.