Get the app

Ten Lessons from 20 Years of Trabian


It was 2003 and the Dotcom Bubble had already burst. Businesses who were still standing and willing to bet on the Internet were finding a new way forward. 

In that year, Matt led a couple of college friends including myself to start building websites. We didn’t know how it would all turn out – we were just focused on solving one set of problems at a time, as quickly, efficiently, and gracefully as possible. 

Twenty years later, we've grown to serve hundreds of clients in the financial services space, and our team is now part of an even bigger family with an amazing mission to positively impact the financial lives of one billion people one life at a time: MVB Bank

These last twenty years have taught us a lot. I’m happy to share a few of the ones that have stuck with me. Here’s to another twenty... and beyond. 

  1. Value Long-Term Relationships: Our longest-standing client has been with us for nearly all of these twenty years, a testament to the value we place on building enduring relationships. This partnership has taught us the importance of reliability, adaptability, and consistent value delivery in fostering long-term loyalty. Their success is our success.
  2. Cater to Niche Markets: You know the old saying: “A Jack of all trades is a master of none.” Serving community banks and credit unions has proven profitable for us. We've only deviated from the financial services industry a handful of times since the early days. Find your niche and serve it exceptionally well. 
  3. Building Trust: Working with financial institutions means handling sensitive information. We’ve learned that trust is everything. Our reputation for integrity and security has been instrumental in our success, and have invested appropriately in our infrastructure and processes - to the point where we can now say we're SOC 2 Compliant. 
  4. Word of Mouth is Key: We've never been a big-booth-conference-company (although our Trabian merch game has really improved over the past couple years). Referrals have driven our business from the outset, from our early days running industry blogs and embracing social media early to relationship-building with fellow companies in industry groups like AFT.
  5. The Best Craftspeople Use The Best Tools: We've always been advocates for bringing the best tools to our projects. When we can't find a solution in market for a particular problem we're trying to solve, we build it. From our very first website running a custom-built CMS to building out our own mock API to simulate core banking data, we're not afraid to take the Abraham Lincoln approach: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
  6. Place Your (Well-Informed) Bets: Following that thread, we’ve learned that strategic investment in emerging technologies can give us a significant competitive advantage. Being early adopters on certain frameworks and technologies throughout our history has kept us punching above our weight-class by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our work. This underscores the importance of continually scanning the tech horizon for promising innovations and having the courage to bet on them.
  7. Empower Your Team: Providing satisfying careers and growth opportunities for our team has proven to be a smart business strategy, as has embracing remote work. An empowered team is a productive, innovative, and loyal team, no matter the office setting. 
  8. Make Time For Fun: We're intentional about getting our team and subsets of our team within different regions together in person when we can. Even during the height of the pandemic, we found ways to stay connected as humans with virtual happy hours, one-on-one coffee time matchups, care packages, and so on.  
  9. Relationships Matter: Building solid relationships with our customers has led to a high retention rate and a steady stream of referrals, as I mentioned earlier. In the rare instances where we've needed to go beyond to make a customer over-the-moon happy with us, we've not been afraid to break our internal budget for the sake of making someone a Trabian fan-for-life. 
  10. Build Meaningful Things With Friends: From early on in our history, Matt in particular has been energized by the statement: “Build meaningful things with friends.” The trust built across decades now has been instrumental in keeping us moving forward as we've locked arms to weather tough times and raised glasses to celebrate huge wins. Cheers to twenty more!

About the author

Trey Reeme is the President of Trabian.