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PixelSpoke Turns 17! Reflections on How it All Started and Why We Love Credit Unions

Today is a special day for me. Seventeen years ago, my father and I co-founded PixelSpoke—and on my father’s birthday, no less! Our original name, Synotac, means “father + son” in Bulgarian and Croatian, but unfortunately no one could pronounce it correctly. That’s one reason why we changed it to PixelSpoke in 2013.

It was also in 2013 that we worked with our first credit union, Trailhead Credit Union, who we’re happy to report is still a client today. Ten years prior, I had no idea that co-founding a marketing agency would lead me to the credit union community. If I’m going to be perfectly honest, back then I was thinking, “I bet I can work at this for a few months and then log in for 10 hours a week from the back of a camel in the Sahara desert and make a comfortable living.”

OK, it hasn’t actually turned out that way at all. But camels or no camels, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The more our team started learning about credit unions, the more we became enthralled. For one, we loved the complexity of credit union website redesigns, from a technical, ethical, and storytelling standpoint. We also appreciated the cooperative nature of the industry and the local community focus, the importance of which became all the more apparent during the Great Recession.

Riding camels in the Sahara and my father, Bill Madill

(Left) Even though I’ve had to log in quite a bit more than 10 hours a week since founding PixelSpoke, my wife and I actually did ride camels in the Sahara in 2017! (Right) My father and PixelSpoke co-founder, Bill Madill, who brought a lot of fun and goofiness to the team during his tenure. Happy birthday, Dad!

In early 2020, we celebrated our B Corp recertification and the completion of our 18-month transition to a worker-owned cooperative.

We became a B Corp in 2014, and as we began to seek out more credit union clients, we saw how much our own philosophy aligned with the credit union industry’s belief that business can, and should be, a force for good. Credit unions also inspired us to learn more about the often-overlooked cooperative business model, leading us to become a worker-owned cooperative at the beginning of this year.

We’ve now had the great fortune to partner with over 30 credit unions, as well as the National Credit Union Foundation. I’ve had fascinating conversations with dozens of credit union leaders for our Remarkable Credit Union podcast, and have met many more at conferences across the United States. As PixelSpoke turns 17, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of you for welcoming us into the credit union community, and for continuing to challenge and inspire us every day.