It’s Our Birthday!

Today is our 4th birthday, and we couldn’t be more proud of how far we’ve come!

Over a decade ago, our founder and CEO, Dr. Danielle Varda, founded the Center on Network Science at the University of Colorado Denver. With help from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Varda began developing the first iteration of our PARTNER platform using Microsoft Excel. As PARTNER developed, Dr. Varda was able to hire her first two employees. 

Soon, there were more. With a small, lean team, Dr. Varda forged ahead with PARTNER, and in 2018, she joined the Boomtown Accelerator program in Boulder, Colorado. On March 16th, 2018, Visible Network Labs was officially founded. Four years, multiple awards, and 5,500+ PARTNER users later, here we are!

Today, VNL has a fully-remote staff of 25 working across six internal teams, living in eight U.S. states and territories. Of the original team, Mike Cooper, Sara Sprong, Alex Derr, and of course, Dr. Varda are still with us today.

Check out their reflections on our journey below!

Dr. Danielle Varda, Founder & CEO

“When I started VNL I had no idea what to expect, with one exception. 

I knew with certainty that creating a space where we could grow a community of people who care about social connectedness, while leveraging the power of science and technology, was the right thing to do. Four years later, and on the heels of two years of the impact of COVID, I am more certain than ever that there has been no better decision I’ve made than to take the leap to launch VNL. 

Today, we are a multi-million dollar company with 25 employees who wake up every day ready to tackle complex issues like loneliness, social isolation, and adverse social connectedness.  We are a group of people who care deeply about each other and the communities that trust us to support them.  While building a business can be tough, it has been the greatest risk I’ve ever taken. Every day validates that we are on the path to even greater success. 

Our vision is that every person has the social connections they need to thrive, and while we cannot do it alone, I am immensely proud of the way we are making progress toward that vision. In the coming years, I think you can expect VNL to scale and continue to tackle hard problems, in partnership with others.”

Sara, Mike, and Dr. Varda reppin' VNL at Boomtown 2018!
Sara, Mike, and Dr. Varda reppin' VNL at Boomtown 2018!

Sara Sprong, M.P.A., VP of Customer Experience

“VNL started a month and half after my second daughter was born. It’s been amazing to watch how much development occurs in those first 4 years of a child’s life, and I couldn’t help but notice the same is true for a startup. It’s been an exciting adventure watching our team grow from a handful of people to five times that today.  In that same time period, VNL has grown leaps-and-bounds –  in terms of releasing product updates and new features that allow our products to serve more communities and individuals. 

It’s a blessing to work with people that are passionate about the mission that VNL was created to achieve, and who are driven to reach our outcomes.  I truly believe that we have the best team and partnerships in place to ensure our own success and that of our stakeholders.  I can’t wait to see how much we, the VNL team, will accomplish in this next year and many more to come!”

A VNL team brainstorming session.
A VNL team brainstorming session.

Mike Cooper, VP of Engineering

Mike Cooper, VP of Engineering“I have been fortunate to have been a part of VNL’s growth over the past four years. 

We started as a very small team, finding our way through the startup world, and have grown into a larger, more sustainable, and much more focused company. We’ve always had a mission, but focusing and prioritizing that mission–rather than trying to create a tool that fits every possible use case–has allowed us to bring the mission to the forefront and take active steps toward accomplishing it. 

We have refined our organization structure, formalized processes within our specialized departments, narrowed in on our target market, and have been actively hiring the talent needed to bring our vision to the world. I am proud of what we have accomplished and I am excited to see what the next four years (and beyond!) will bring!”

A big day in VNL history! Boomtown 2018 - Boulder, CO
A big day in VNL history! Boomtown 2018 - Boulder, CO

Alex Derr, M.P.A., Director of Marketing and Communications

“Looking back since I joined VNL in 2018, it’s hard to believe all that we’ve accomplished. From launching new products and expanding our team, to enhancing our marketing and communications efforts, it’s been an incredible experience. With each passing day, our team and impact grows as we work to strengthen social connectedness across the globe. It has been great to be a part of VNL, and I cannot wait to see what our team realizes over the next four years!”

We’re doing big things in 2022, and we couldn’t be more excited.

From all of us at Visible Network Labs, thank you for your support. Cheers to the next four!

Be sure to stay tuned to our Visible Us Blog for more product updates and VNL Team content!

About the Author: Will Jacobson

Will Jacobson is the Business Development Representative on VNL’s Marketing and Communications Team. Originally from New York City, Will loves living in Colorado and all the outdoor life it has to offer. He’s also a pretty big foodie!

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