Title: CEO & Partner
Company: Explore Consulting
For a guy who built his career in the “cloud,” Steve Jones is all business. This cloud is the one that allows information to be managed online, offering the opportunity to store data via the internet rather than on individual hard drives or company servers. Ten years ago, after his first job as a programmer for Homegrocer.com ended when the company was bought out, Jones and his friend Jeremy DeSpain put their severance checks toward starting Bellevue’s Explore Consulting. “We got focused on the cloud before it was really a term,” says Jones, Explore CEO. “There was no reason to run around from desk to desk with floppy disks if you can just go to a browser and download what is needed.” “We were eager guys with strong opinions where technology was going and it really just worked out.” The company got a big boost from – of all things – the recession as executives looked for ways to streamline and increase efficiency. Now Explore and its primary product – NetSuite – counts Nordstrom, Smashbox Cosmetics, Amgen, Piper Aircraft and PCC Natural Markets among its top clients. Another top client that’s close to Jones’ heart is the NFL Scouting Combine. The son of missionary parents who hosted more than 400 foster children, Jones was a self-starter who got good grades and played football. A football scholarship allowed him to attend Montana Tech, where he was the captain of his team. In 2007, Jones embarked on another entrepreneurial adventure: creating a lakefront retreat called Kidd Island Lodge in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. – DEIDRE SILVA, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Hometown: Billings, Mont.
Marital status: Married
Number of children: 2
Word that best describes you:Best business advice you received: “Spend the first five years of your career as a programmer.” This came from a college professor who I really respected. Running a technology company today, the perspectives gained from working in the trenches early in my career has provided invaluable perspective.
How you define success: I believe success is directly related to happiness and quality of life. If you maximize your potential, love what you do and live life to the fullest, you’ve won.
Favorite job perk: Supporting the technology on the field at the NFL Combine for the past five years
Cause(s): Improved quality of public education. My wife has been Parent Teacher Association president over the past two years at our daughters’ school, and through her involvement I’ve learned just how critical and impactful parent participation is in maximizing their experience.
Other profession you’d like to try: Running a five-star bird hunting lodge
How did your parents influence your career choice: Instead of living a middle-class, 9-to-5 life in the ‘burbs, my parents always fearlessly followed their passion and took risks. They’ve traveled the world and supported great causes, from taking in orphaned Muslim children in Israel to building homes in Thailand for children rescued out of human trafficking. They taught me not to be afraid to take a risk that you believe in.
First job: My first job out of college was software engineer for a consulting firm. I spent two years developing a mobile application for Internal Revenue Service field agents. They plugged their laptops into big bag phones while on the road and transferred data at 2400 baud. It took an entire suitcase full of equipment to get the job done.
First dollar: Mowing lawns. I used to push my family lawn mower down the street until I came to a nice house with an out-of-control lawn, knocked on the door, and sold my services, with a pretty high close rate.
Book on your nightstand: “Endurance,” by Alfred Lansing
Wheels: Chevy Silverado Crew Cab 4×4
Favorite MP3 download:Favorite movie: “The Jerk”
Superpower you would want: Flight
Favorite escape: Chasing pheasant with my English setter at sunrise on a crisp fall morning
Favorite vacation spot: So far — Chiang Mai, Thailand
Favorite places for dining and dealing: Suite during a Seahawks home game
Guilty pleasure: Bombay Sapphire gin
Best stress release: Bikram yoga
Legacy you would like to leave: To my children, I hope to instill a strong work ethic, humble confidence, competitive spirit, and to never fear the unknown. To my community — business and social — I hope to leave a long trail of measurable contributions and meaningful relationships.