Mile Two with Jeff Graley
Jeff Graley started a Masters of Engineering and Innovation in Entrepreneurship program approximately 5 years ago to further his education and change his career path. Through this program at Wright State he became excited about engineering and software development and began working for the Air Force Research Lab. His team at AFRL was asked to develop some software for a local company on the side. Out of this project, Mile Two was born. Mile Two is a company that combines the efforts of human-centered software design and the excitement of building better systems in a diverse range of settings. He volunteered as the Pathfinder for this project but eventually took Mile Two on his own as of August 2015. Jeff then became the Co-Founder and Partner of the current Mile Two. He was not alone in his endeavors and actually brought two people on with him from AFRL.
Mile Two bootstrapped themselves and began the startup grind. They took no funding or loans to start, but instead began searching diligently for contracts to get them started. He explains, "At that point, we were literally just hustling all the time". Day-after-day they were diligently searching for opportunities in the region and trying to land some solid contracts to build their company. They most recently restructured and brought on Dave Best, with Code for Dayton, to their team. With this slight expansion in May of this year, they needed to upgrade from coffee shops and living rooms, to The Entrepreneur Center in Dayton, OH. Now with a 400 square foot space all to their own with resources available at their disposal whenever they need them. "It was a really great fit", Jeff explained. "Everything you need is basically in house, and as they are expanding you are going to have more resources at your disposal”. He goes on to say "sometimes it is hard, as you are starting a business, to find the right accountant or lawyer but, in The Entrepreneur Center, you have all that stuff in place already. As an Engineer, I really know nothing about these sorts of things and need the right person for our company". Jeff confirms that with a few desks and tables they are well off. “We don’t need much. I still don’t have a actual “desk” but I made sure to get my partners one”.
Mile Two is now just over a year old. They have some experience and projects under their belt. He says, "We are in a stage now where we need to grow and would benefit from some interaction with the bigger or well-known companies to facilitate some of that growth". "I think some of these bigger companies are constantly meeting, exchanging dialogue, and attending events which helps them expand and grow together but, unfortunately, I do not see that happening with the smaller startups in Dayton." He explains that Dayton, just like any other community, has its "strengths and weaknesses" but "overall, I think it's a wonderful place to bring your business and grow". "A lot of people point to the Lexis Nexis and Caresource-like companies to look up to but, at this point that is just not fathomable for us", he says.
I asked Jeff, what exactly Mile Two is about now and where they are going in the future and his response was, "Mile Two is focused on human-centered design, so that we are actually supporting the human in the process instead of developing a tool or system and then expecting a human to adapt to the concrete model later on". He says that in traditional settings they do this design which is counter-intuitive and really doesn't do much good to anyone. It requires more man power and time which is in short supply for most companies. "We are a software service company, so we build software across the full spectrum which includes mobile, cloud-based design, or a web application, but bring in that process of designing it around the human so it can bring value to your users. This could be a customer or an employee. We make it easy to use and we make it intuitive. We are going to build it and build it well regardless of who that end-user will be". As far as where he sees Mile Two going in the future he says, "I see us going a number of different ways. One being defense. Two, being commercial products. Or three, working on our own ideas and moving forward with the in-house products". Jeff recently pitched one of his in-house products at Dayton Tech Guide's first Early Risers event. He states "these products are gaining traction which is exciting". "This company is passionate about creating and innovative design and our team is always looking for more projects".
The Mile Two team is developing and expanding quickly with more contracts coming in. Over the summer they brought on employee number 1 (Dave Best) outside of Jeff and his partner, Jorge Sanchez. Over the past month they brought on 2 new employees who will be starting within the next couple weeks. Both of the employees are starting as software developers. "Both seem passionate and ready to the join team and we are super excited about bringing them on", Jeff explains. Mile Two is continuously growing and still looking to bring more people on. Dayton Tech Guide looks forward to seeing where Mile Two goes in the next couple years. We can imagine that if they continue with the pace of their current growth, they will expand past their current 400 square foot space
Check out their website below and explore the career page to find out about the positions they are trying to fill.
Written By: Austin Rains
Marketing Intern at Dayton Tech Guide