Atomic Object forges unique, permanent partnership with Ann Arbor start-up

Grand Rapids software developers Atomic Object are investing more than just money in the Ann Arbor start-up Local Orbit this time around. 

In addition to a $100,000 pledge to the budding company for their next round of funding, longtime Atomic Object developer Micah Alles will join the Local Orbit team as its new chief technology officer, signifying the beginning of what looks like a beautiful friendship. 

“This is not, ‘I’m going to do a job and go away and maybe come back later to help with another job.’ This is a continuing relationship,” says Local Orbit CEO Erika Block. “Micah is our CTO and he’s in it for the long haul in both the investment relationship and advisory relationship.” 

As the new Local Orbit CTO, Alles will leverage Atomic Object’s tools, processes, and culture to bootstrap and mentor a growing team of Local Orbit software developers - something Alles has experience doing at Atomic Object since he joined its team in 2002. 

“We have a strong culture and very attractive practices and processes that make it a really great place for developers to work,” Alles says. “Especially for the best developers in the country. I have a lot of experience leading and building teams within Atomic Object, too, so what I'm able to do is that same thing but for Local Orbit internally.”

Local Orbit, which offers the tools and software platform to help connect local farmers and local food businesses to “create stronger, more efficient food networks that can meet the demand for food produced closer to where we live,” still looks very young next to the 15-year-old Grand Rapids-based Atomic Object. 

However, it’s the newness of Local Orbit’s prospects that has Atomic Object seeing an opportunity to invest in not only a company, but also a way of doing business. 

“Atomic Object always makes our client’s problems our problems, so we always feel invested in their success,” Alles says. “With this partnership, we have one of the greatest chances we have ever had to see that through to the greatest success our clients can have. Not only are we initially helping Local Orbit continue to build their own platform with our product development team as we have for many clients before, but we also have the opportunity to help shape and build the culture and continue to build on that moving forward.” 

Perhaps due to a work-relationship that has been budding for some time now, Block says the partnership between Local Orbit and Atomic Object has been almost organic in nature. 

“What’s been really interesting is that probably because we've built a relationship prior to this partnership, our culture and our way of looking at business and the world and software development and using technology to solve problems in big markets, is something that, in the initial stages of our partnership, has been very seamless,” Block says. “There's a lot of mutual respect for each company's management processes and for the talent we've each been able to bring together.”

Right now, Local Orbit is looking for an “Atomic-quality software engineer” to join its re-imagined team, while Atomic Object is looking to hire new software developers at all three locations. For more information on job openings at either company, visit Alles blog or Atomic Object’s job page.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer
Image courtesy of Atomic Object/Micah Alles
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