They started as middle-school friends, college buddies and now they run a business together. Let’s just say that the past decade or so has been a whirlwind for Joe Golden and Kevin Borders.
Borders and Golden are the co-founder of Collage.com, a website that allows its users to make a photo collage online and turn it into anything they can imagine.
According to company lore, Borders and Golden were students at University of Michigan when Borders ran into a problem: He wanted to create a one-of-a-kind anniversary collage for his girlfriend, Jen, and there wasn’t any software up to the task.
Borden teamed up with Golden, and together they developed the software that would become Collage.com. What began as a literal labor of love – Kevin and Jen are now married – grew into something bigger, and Borden and Golden decided to turn their project into a business.
Today, they lead a fast-growing team of more than 30 employees dedicated to making custom products easy for everyone.
“It was a hobby project for a long time,” said Golden. “We had been friends since middle school, and we moved to Seattle at the same time to work for Microsoft. It was my first job out of college; Joe was working on a computer science PhD.”
Golden, a Troy native, holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. He also worked as the staff economist at Elance-oDesk, an economist at Google and as a software engineer at Microsoft.
Borders, who grew up in White Lake, holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering as well as a Ph.D. in computer science engineering from the University of Michigan. Prior to making Collage.com his full-time focus, he served his country by working as a computer security researcher at the National Security Agency. He also holds several patents for network security.
Collage.com has grown from a company with $4.5 million in revenues in 2013 to be worth more thatn $15 million in revenue last year. It also has one of the most unique “work from home” strategies around – more on that in the next blog post.