Have you ever seen a pineapple in cowboy boots?
Well, neither have I, but I just contacted an artist on Etsy to commission something of the sort. This is all a part of a crazy past few weeks that has resulted in TIKI going from a remote company with a business address in central Massachusetts to real brick-and-mortar (there’s LOTS of brick here) company located in midtown Nashville, Tennessee. Quite the ride for a company that started a year ago in the middle of a pandemic. Now we’ve got somewhere we can call home, but the question we keep hearing is simply: “Why Nashville?”
My standard answer to anyone who asks me a “why are you…” question has annoyed my family and friends for years. Their common response is either an eye roll, or something along the lines of “no, seriously” or a sarcastic “very philosophical, Shane.” I suppose that’s a permissible lot of reactions for: “I don’t know, why does anyone do anything?”
So forgive me if I feel an inclination to revert to the pseudo-philosophical musings of trying to explain complex decisions or actions using our limited English language. Why Nashville? I don’t really know, exactly. Why do you think? No, seriously. Why do you think? Why does anyone move anywhere? Kidding. Sort of. This time I will actually try to delve into the logic.
A few months ago Mike and I started contemplating a move. Mike was at his parents house in suburban Saratoga, New York. I was at my parents house in suburban Boston. When I say it’s been a wild ride for TIKI, maybe I’ve neglected to inform you (potentially out of embarrassment, but let’s pretend it was because the information was on a need-to-know basis) that both Mike and I bit the bullet and lived with our parents to get this project off the ground. Obviously, not a very sustainable solution for a couple of guys in their 30s. So, where to? Boston seemed like a logical place. Big city. Lots of resources. Great tech scene. Investors. Location, location, location.
It’s tough to explain, but if you’ve ever had the gut feeling you need to go somewhere new, or just a gut feeling toward anything generally, you kinda just have to go for it. Kierkegaard would call it a “leap of faith,” or, more accurately, a leap into faith. There’s not really a rational explanation for it, you just gotta trust the leap and hope the abyss you’re leaping into will meet you with a gentle caress, or, at the minimum, trust that it won’t kill you.
Nashville’s the type of place that feels like it supports those who leap blindly into faith. It’s a place of dreamers — of people trying to make it. At first, and most prominently, making it meant making it in music, and though that is still a common reason people end up in Nashville, the city has grown so rapidly that dreamers of all cuts and jibs have taken up residence for a whole host of reasons. One of those reasons is now to fundamentally change the Internet for the better by allowing users to make informed choices related to their online data. Hold on, that sounds a bit too buissnessy. Let’s try again: One of those reasons is now to forward the goal of extending an ever-growing, pulsating, middle finger toward Big Tech while simultaneously educating and empowering anyone with an Internet connection to move toward a more ethical future. Our middle finger just also happens to be wearing a cowboy hat.
See, I could easily plug some statistics here. The tech scene in Middle Tennessee is growing! Rapidly! I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a factor in our decision, but really, it’s bigger than that. We’re dream-chasing. We’re risk-taking. We’re wired that way. We’ve both been to Nashville before, and something just felt right. We didn’t overthink it. We made a decision and went with it.
Now here we are.
1814 Hayes Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37203. We’ve got a big fish tank, a bunch of plants, and check it out! We just got WiFi! Sick! Mike is presently drilling a hole into our counter so we can install a reverse osmosis system. Also sick! Things are coming together and it is finally starting to feel like TIKI has an actual home, not just purely digital existence.
It’s already been quite interesting. A few 70-degree days in December (a new experience for someone from the Northeast), legitimate tornado sirens (at 3:30 AM! They are haunting as heck!) and winds that were legitimately whistling, not just in a poetic sense (a very new experience for someone from the Northeast), someone almost hit me with their car in a crosswalk (I had the walk signal; a recurring experience for someone from the Northeast), I walked by a bar during the afternoon NFL football games and saw a jersey for every single team playing, from Miami to Cincinnati, from Minnesota to New York.
I guess despite the crazy weather situations and almost taking a front bumper to both kneecaps, the myriad of NFL jerseys seems to be a fitting metaphor for what it’s been like in Nashville so far: people from everywhere coming to a place, not forgetting where they come from, but adapting to a new life, a new opportunity, a fresh start. Fitting, also, because in the middle of the sea of jerseys was the one constant, the blue, red, and silver of a lone Tennessee Titans jersey, reminding us of the place that brought us all together.
Greetings from Nashville, our new home. I’ll be sure to get pictures of the pineapple cowboy art when it’s ready.
More to come.
Shane, Mike & the TIKI Team