Floating to Success (in a Salt Water Tank) with Matt Monihan

Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jul 1, 2015

“Entrepreneurship is more of a mental health condition than a choice you make.”

RJMetrics’ UX designer Matt Monihan juxtaposes his uniquely meditative approach with the quantitative field of data analytics. “My job is to listen to our customers,” he says. “And when we decide to do something, to make sure it gets done.”

Rejecting the characterization of entrepreneurship as a roller coaster ride, he muses, “It’s more that YOU are the roller coaster, and it’s a matter of taming yourself being that roller coaster.”

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Take 24:7

It was 2005, and Matt found himself growing restless in his Drexel co-op, reading Tech Crunch at lunchtime and planning his next move. He and his buddy Dan launched a video sharing web site called Take 24:7. “This was back before YouTube got bought, when it was filled with the kind of stuff to get you through the day at work. With Take 24:7, we targeted film students who had higher quality videos.”

With its unique ability to tag all cast and crew members, IMDB-style, Take 24:7 generated a profile for everyone in a video project. For over a year, Matt and his 4 teammates lived in a 200 square foot apartment (dubbed “the submarine”), papering the walls with use cases for the site. Although it became very popular with the target audience of film students, it was not to be. “Ultimately, we shut it down because we weren’t sure how to monetize it.”

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Devnuts & Jarvus

Matt’s next endeavor, a coworking space in Northern Liberties called Devnuts, also happened in a shared space. “We wanted an office space that made us look bigger than we were.” He and his partners then launched Jarvus Innovations, which provided custom software development, infrastructure and support to myriad businesses. “In 2009, designing with HTML 5 on a phone was challenging. We made one for Consumer Reports Mobile in 2011. It was a big contract, and that built our confidence.”

During this time, Matt felt himself growing philosophically distant from his partners. “I realized that if I stuck around, I was going to hold them back because we were going to be clashing on basic stuff.”

On a rainy day in October of 2011, Matt prepared his departure email to the other founders. “I sat in my office looking out the window and cried. I broke up with my girlfriend 2 days later, and then the day after that I got mugged. A guy with a knife took my last $20. But I realized in all of that, it wasn’t as bad as I feared.”

He met RJMetrics co-founder Robert J. Moore at TEDx Philly, where Robert was a presenter. Matt was impressed. “Robert listened to everything I said. So I checked out their product. I looked at the UI and felt pain in my stomach. I thought ‘wow, I’ve got to help them.’” For the past 4 years, Matt’s done just that, working on the aesthetic aspects as well as user interface.

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The Mercenary Podcast

Matt is one half of the team on the Mercenary Podcast on iTunes, a side gig that allows him to spend time with his filmmaker buddy Dan Clifton, who is now out in L.A. “We said, ‘let’s get some weird people together that we’ve met along the way and do a podcast with them.’”

“Even though he works in Hollywood and I work in Philly tech, our jobs are really similar. But he’s working 18 hour days for 30 days in a row.”

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On Floating

Matt is a big believer in the power of meditation, and he’s gotten into doing it in a float spa. “It’s a 93-degree salt water bath. It takes meditation to its logical extreme. When I leave, colors seem brighter, and I feel refreshed.”

Just last week he tried a virtual reality setup inside the tank. “It’s like The Matrix is real.” His setup involves taping his phone to his forehead and playing a selection of videos, including a meditation game designed by a friend. “You hum a tone, and it plays it back to you.”

“So far I think I’m the only person who tried this, but I keep looking for others.”