Alumni Leaders: Sidney Keith, '11, Partner at Squirrels LLC
When Sidney Keith, ’11, started college at Kent State in 2007, his plan was to one day work in entertainment public relations. Being named a partner at a software development company before he graduated was not on his radar; however, that’s exactly how life played out – and now he can’t imagine doing anything else.
“This came about, and now it’s a different adventure every day,” he said. “Because I’m managing a business and people on top of it, it’s not just PR. ... But all of the PR background – the writing, the presentation skills, the well- roundedness of the program – was a good fit for going into what I’m doing now.”
While he was a student, Keith freelanced for a small Ohio-based app development company, Napkin Studio, which had created one of the first 100 apps in Apple’s App Store and was seeing a lot of success. Napkin Studio soon hired Keith full time, and he began working with clients from coast to coast. Eventually, he and a group of three others began working on screen sharing apps and technology to make working with remote clients in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco more efficient.
“We thought nothing of it,” Keith said. “We thought, ‘Hey, we have a need for this, and maybe a couple hundred other people have a need for it.’ Then, we started getting orders rolling in for tens of thousands of dollars, and thought, ‘Whoa, what is this?’”
From that, Squirrels LLC was born. The newly formed company honed in on screen sharing technology, bought out Napkin Studio, and Keith was named a partner while he was still a student. The company’s industry-leading screen mirroring apps, Reflector 2 and AirParrot 2, are now used worldwide in more than 100,000 classrooms and in millions of homes and businesses.
Until he graduated, Keith juggled 40-hour workweeks with a full course load. It was a lot of work, he said, but well worth it when he used his income to pay for his last three semesters of college upfront. Now, the company continues to be forward-thinking and is expanding in existing markets.
“It’s stressful. It’s fun,” Keith said. “Every day’s a new challenge and a new adventure, dealing with things I didn’t think I would be dealing with seven years ago. Here I am, talking to multimillion dollar, billion dollar companies across the globe, trying to land business deals. I’m not only worrying about myself, but countless employees here and their families who rely on us to keep things going.”