Justin Ribeiro began coding at the age of seven.
‘Coding’ a term now commonly known and spoke among the masses in the day and age of the World Wide Web was not so common in the mid- to late-1980s.
Ribeiro, co-founder of the globally known Stickman Ventures, recently honored as the 12th Assembly District Small Business of the Year by Assembly member Kristin Olsen, credits his mom for his early discovery of his life’s passion.
According to the Riverbank High School alum, his mother worked for an accounting firm, which fostered her familiarity with computers. His parents also ran an area farm, which they still maintain today.
“My parents had the foresight to see what was coming,” Ribeiro said, noting that eventually his father invested in a top of the line computer for his son to tinker with.
“I took it apart,” Ribeiro said. “My dad looked at it and said, just make sure you can put it back together … and I did.”
Upon completion of Riverbank High School, the Valley teen ventured out to pursue his degrees in more urban areas. He spent time in Seattle, as well as San Francisco securing both a Bachelor’s, as well as Master’s degree in business. During this time, the software developer gained experience with various well known corporations.
In late 2006-early 2007, Ribeiro along with friend and fellow visionary Gareth Coen, founded Stickman Ventures. The company became incorporated in Ireland that same year and by 2009 they became incorporated in California as well.
“One of the reasons we started Stickman was because we had this notion,” Ribeiro shared. “Organizations sometimes lose sight of what they’re actually trying to build, whether it’s a web application or something for your phone or television.”
Both Ribeiro and Coen had become fairly well known in the industry so much of the company’s early business came by word of mouth. In their early years, the company dabbled with office locations in urban areas.
As Ribeiro returned to the Valley to start a family, he took interest in their current 315 W. F St., Oakdale location, which had been refurbished.
“The Oakdale office was a bit of an experiment,” he stated, “because honestly we didn’t know if people would continue to come. It’s sort of become a focal point for us the past few years.”
It has definitely become their home base.
“We don’t want to move,” Ribeiro shared of the continued and increased success since placing roots in the 95361. “If anything we’ll just expand.”
The company employs as well as contracts with developers and engineers globally. The Oakdale location is home to approximately seven local team members on any given day.
Ribeiro added that due to the tenure both he and Coen have spent in the software development business, they recognize the importance of bringing in younger interns to stay current. Working with Oakdale High School has proven to be successful for the group.
“We try and bring in that younger set because otherwise you lose sight of the bleeding edge,” he said. “The bleeding edge is very hard to track. Software moves so quickly. It changes rapidly.”
Ribeiro acknowledged his daughters, age ten and twin four-year-olds, as a litmus test of how he observes usage of devices, noting how they operate and utilize systems as drastically different than himself.
“A lot of the work that we do is internal work,” Ribeiro said of Stickman Ventures. Much of their work is seen and/or used by many without public knowledge.
“If we can make them better, we feel like we’re doing our job,” he said of their clients. “We just want to make people better at what they do. We’re interested in the end goal, regardless of the customer.”
In addition to corporations and companies with large budgets, the Stickman team is just as eager to help the small business owner or entrepreneur looking to launch a website.
And now ... close to three decades later, a global business and multiple accomplishments under his belt, what fascinates the once seven-year-old who began with coding? The World Wide Web.
“The fact that you could put something up and then have someone look at it on the other side of the ocean nearly instantly, blew my mind as a kid,” he said. “Today it still has that effect, as I see it through the eyes of my kids.
“Now the wealth of information we have,” he continued. “You can go on-line today and find anything you want to learn. Whether it be learning how to code, how to wood work, or learning to 3D print ... it doesn’t matter what it is. That information that is there, that’s the thing that blows my mind … I wasn’t the only one affected, all those years ago. Other people saw it and it just exploded out.”
And it seems like it was light years away.
“I was one kid in the middle of nowhere,” Ribeiro said, “who had a dial up modem and a lot of hope.”