On Friday night I was invited to a London Knights vs Sudbury Wolves (OHL) game, hosted by my very favourite web development agency Digital Echidna.
Echidna did the redesign of my former organization’s website, so I worked closely with them for about two years and got to know a few of their staff pretty well. I was also a freelance web consultant recently on Ontario Volleyball’s website selection committee, and they ended up going with Echidna for their new website as well (of course they did, Echidna was the clear winner in that bid process).
Technically I am not affiliated with Echidna anymore (but ohh I know we will keep in touch), so I think they just invited me because I have helped them acquire business in the world of amateur sports. Well, and we like each other quite a lot. I’m pretty sure they also just wanted to hang out with me.
Echidna is super awesome. I absolutely love everyone I have come into contact with there and if anyone ever asks me to recommend a website company I tend to rave on and on about them. They are a young company, and not only did they do an amazing job on our website, they were just overall amazing to work with. The first time they came in and presented to us I was so overwhelmingly impressed by them that I nearly burst into tears of gratitude. I was so happy they even existed. I wanted to hug them. I wanted to work with them soo badly, and I did not hide my feelings about that at all during their presentation. When they left my coworker Mike said to me “Can you play hard to get AT ALL?”
NO! I can NOT. If I like something, I like it, and I just can’t hide my excitement about it. I want to shout it from the rooftops.
So they were the best option for us, and that is who we ended up going with. I worked the closest with Victor, who is the New Business Manager, and who I would actually consider my friend now. I need to just take a moment here and tell you how amazing he is, because he is one of the most awesome and positive people I have ever met. I knew from pretty much our first phone conversation that we were going to be BFF’s.
Mike is a big Victor fan as well, and has been working with him more closely now that I’m gone. I think the most refreshing thing about Victor (and all of Echidna’s staff actually) compared to people I have worked with in the past is that he contacted me all the time. Our old website people (before Echidna) never called me back, and I had to ruthlessly stalk them to get anything done. I only met them once, and it was when we were threatening to leave them. Victor, on the other hand, would call me up all the time, sometimes several times a week, just to check in. And even though Echidna is in London and it is a pretty big hike from Toronto, they make an effort to come and see their clients as much as possible. I saw Victor about every other month, and still even now when he is in the city he lets me know so that we can meet up for coffee or something. I like it.
Oh, and can I show you what Victor used to look like back in the day?
That picture kills me. Victor, I think you need to bring the dreads back.
ANYWAY, Friday afternoon I made the two and a half hour drive to Echidna’s office in London. Victor invited Mike and I up for an office tour before the festivities started, and I have been wanting to see their office for a long time so I was excited about this. Their office is so super trendy! Check out their boardroom:
I love the red walls and the exposed brick and the multicoloured chairs.
After our tour, Victor took Mike and I out for dinner at a restaurant near their office called Up Front
Victor specifically told me that there was going to be a lot of food at the event later (and booze also, how do you think I was so easily lured into attending?), so I wanted to keep my meal on the lighter side so I would still be hungry later. I ended up going with the mussels.
And they were GOOD. I don’t usually order just mussels when I am out for dinner because I feel like it is not going to be enough to fill me up. But since I was going to be eating again later, this was the perfect portion to keep my hunger monster from making an appearance before the hockey festivities.
And speaking of the hockey festivities, onto them! Echidna rents a suite in the Budweiser Gardens each year and invites all of their clients to watch a London Knights game. So nice of them! So after dinner, that is where we headed.
Pretty good turnout! It was packed in there. Perhaps everyone needed their hockey fix because of the big bad NHL lockout.
And Victor did not lie, there was a lot of food, as well as an open bar. I scored a beer and some pizza and chicken fingers before sitting down and watching the game with Mike.
I accidentally put a little too much plum sauce on my plate, but I typically eat things for the sauce, so no worries over here.
It was really great to catch up with Mike. I used to see him every single day when I worked with him so I have missed his dry, sarcastic humour. We both volunteer on Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association’s board though, so I will still get to see him once a month or so at meetings, which makes me happy.
We also chatted a lot with Erin, another one of Echidna’s staff members who I absolutely adore.
She is possibly the most on-the-ball person I have ever worked with. She was so helpful when we were going through the content for our website, and really helped to ensure things ran smoothly with our whole switchover. She made my job a lot easier so I was very grateful.
After the game (London Knights beat the Sudbury Wolves 4-1, and there was a pretty good fight also!), Mike had to leave, but since I was staying in London for the night (Echidna was awesome enough to put me up in sweet hotel), I totally crashed Echidna’s after-party at a local bar.
Andrew repping Echidna’s name in the middle there is the owner of the company (he founded it himself several years ago and originally only had a few employees), and I am pretty sure he would be the coolest boss ever. I was the only “client” in attendance for the after-party, but the Echidna staff welcomed me with open arms and proclaimed me to be an honourary team member. I felt the love.
I loved hanging out with their team in more of a laid-back, non-professional atmosphere. I had SUCH a fun night. Seriously so much fun. Dancing with them all to Gangnam Style will always be a fond memory for me. My cheeks hurt the next day from laughing so hard. Thank you again Echidna for inviting me! You guys make me want to move to London!
Friends in Ontario, if you need a new website please consider Echidna. I cannot say enough amazing things about them. My love for them is well-documented, and you can even check out my professional review of their services (no they did not pay me to write that).
I think what stands out the most for me about them compared to other companies I have worked with is their clear and thorough consideration of their clients. I feel like each staff member Andrew employs is genuinely just a great person and seriously passionate about their work. In our world where everyone seems to only care about making money it is incredibly refreshing. They are a rare find.
But I shall stop rambling on now. I hope you all had a great weekend!