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From the Stage to the Startup: My mabl Origin Story

Picture of Courtney Dragoon
byCourtney Dragoon

Hi friends, my name is Courtney and it’s my second week at mabl as the new product marketing lead. I’m writing to you all from JetBlue Flight 287 en route to the StarWest Conference in Anaheim, CA (mabl really threw me into the fire - this is my second conference in the past week). Since this flight from Boston is ~6hrs., I have had plenty of time to ponder this question: how the heck did I get here? Certainly that is a question I get asked often from friends, families, and colleagues because my journey to this moment has been a bit… unconventional.

As a person, I have always been creative at my core. Nothing makes me happier than finding an innovative solution to a problem or creating something that makes a true impact. I also love to tell stories and actively engage with other people. These abilities early in life led me to a passion for the performing arts in its many forms - dance, singing and acting. Through years of practice (and a sprinkling of natural talent), I was able to excel in these areas and given the opportunity to perform across the country. I spent many, many hours every night after school in rehearsals, and learned how to efficiently manage my time so I could succeed in both school and the arts. I graduated high school with honors and the lead in the school play.

On stage singing at a cabaretSinging at a cabaret

Fast forward a few years, and I am in the midst of completing a theatre degree at Wagner College in New York City. One summer, I was given the chance to perform at a small summer stock theatre in Ogunquit, ME. I performed as Sandy in “Grease” by night and by day...cleaned hotel rooms. Quite the contrast. As I was cleaning a toilet one morning, I thought to myself “I don’t think I’m cut out for this life.” So, I began to explore how I could translate my theatre performance skills into the business world. Besides time management and creativity, I realized that I was comfortable being in front of a crowd (presentation skills), able to memorize and internalize complex prose (fast learner), had the ability to connect with people (soft skills) and, above all, I was a hard worker.

On stage in a playPutting on stage makeupPerforming in a balletDancing on stage

Long story short, this realization about myself opened up lots of doors in the tech sales and marketing world. I knew that I would need guidance navigating this new career path, so I set out to better understand the technology industry and, hopefully,  find a mentor by going to networking events in Boston. One cold January night, I decided to attend an event about a local startup (that had been recently acquired by Google) called Stackdriver - co-founded by Izzy Azeri and Dan Belcher. I was so impressed with their story and the tangible passion they had for their work that I was compelled to approach them. My soft skills and quick learning ability definitely came in handy as I swiftly established credibility and convinced Izzy to be my mentor. 

Izzy is an inspiring leader who, despite his very busy schedule, always made time to meet up with me so I could ask his guidance on questions like “Where should I improve my marketing skillset? Should I go to grad school? How do I handle this difficult situation?”. He always gave transparent advice and empowered me to make thoughtful decisions. This management style, coupled with his approachable nature, is now how I see him lead mabl. That conviction I had about Dan and Izzy five years ago still holds true to this day - and I am so happy to be working with them on their second company. 

Image from iOS (2)With mabl colleagues at StarWest 2019

I’m now settling in here at mabl and could not be more excited to be on this journey with our team and our amazing customers. I know my career in technology may seem very different than a career in the arts, but I would argue that there are still a lot of similarities. Building a great piece of marketing content can be just as satisfying as landing a perfect pirouette. Hitting a high C can be just as gratifying as nailing a big presentation. And creating a great software application can be just as exciting as creating a new musical.

And technology is no longer a niche industry. Right now in 2019, technology touches almost every aspect of our lives as human beings and is changing the way we buy groceries, watch TV and connect with one another. For me, there is something inherently exciting about helping to transform the way the world creates (and tests) software. Mabl is helping to accelerate the progression and quality of technology by revolutionizing the testing space. And I can’t wait to see what it enables the world to create.

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