February 5, 2021

My Name Is Mike Alvarez — This is Why I Joined Aha!

by Why I Joined Aha!

What will the future look like? As a kid, I was obsessed with 1980s sci-fi movies. I filled entire sketchbooks with drawings of fantastical technology and geometric patterns. My constant doodling got me in trouble at school, but I did not stop finding ways to express myself creatively. I made digital illustrations on my computer and eventually fell in love with photography and composition. Although I planned to become a photographer or graphic designer, I realized in college that my career destiny was not in stills but in moving pictures.

Visual communication is the language of the future — I am passionate about using video to help people in practical ways.

In film school, I made short movies and learned everything I could about animation and editing. Most of my peers moved to Los Angeles after graduation to work on big-budget films and TV shows. But I envisioned something different for myself. I wanted to pursue my creative ambitions and have time to start my own family. I knew that meant exploring a more sustainable career direction.

I joined a startup that made instructional content for subject matter experts and DIYers. I traveled around the U.S. producing thousands of how-to videos. I wrote scripts, shot footage, edited, and published videos for online syndication and news broadcasts. These videos had to explain complex or technical topics in a visually interesting way, often with limited time and budget. It was exciting to create content that helped our clients increase exposure and drive more views — while teaching viewers something valuable.

After three years, I was ready to bring this level of video quality to a new industry. I began producing training and promotional videos for an IT consulting company. Our clients ranged from government entities to local tech companies. My favorite projects were product demos for software companies. I experimented with cinematic techniques (such as using a 3D camera to track and zoom, masking, and popping out elements of the user interface) to make these videos more interesting and helpful for viewers.

It was thrilling to create content that set a new bar — I felt that I was helping to build the next generation of business videos.

I applied everything I knew about film, narrative, and production values to my next role at a SaaS startup called Outreach. As the 17th employee, I relished the opportunity to create foundational video content that drove traffic and new customer growth. Besides making training videos for internal teams and external users, I managed the strategy for what we created and eventually led a small video team. It was empowering to use my skills to help grow the brand into the major B2B sales engagement platform it is today.

Product management and product marketing colleagues often mentioned Aha! to me in passing, but I did not use the software for my own work. When I heard that Aha! was looking for a video editor, I started learning more about the company and values. During the interview process, each team member asked a different series of thought-provoking questions. I never had to repeat myself and everyone valued my time as a candidate.

The idea of putting people first in software was intriguing — this was exactly the type of forward-looking company I wanted to be part of.

Aha! is truly a one-of-a-kind organization. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to work at a company without VC funding or a board of directors. Our independence allows us to move fast, innovate, and deliver an incredible product.

And the caliber of my teammates is unmatched. I enjoy a close relationship with my team lead, Claire George, and everyone gives feedback that pushes me to constantly improve. Even though we are entirely remote, I feel grounded and connected. This makes it possible to achieve great work and be happy doing it.

Each day I focus on helping our customers understand the full power of our software. I create how-to and support content and provide animations for our website and go-to-markets. I love using my video skills to show off our excellent software and make it feel more intuitive for users. It is humbling to know that millions of people watch the videos I make. Even better? I am giving our customers the tools and knowledge they need to build their own incredible futures.

That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.

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