What do a city slicker from New York and a farmer from Ohio have in common? Synapse.

Before they founded the product development company from the ashes of the dot.com bust, Ross Collins and Scott Bright had lived somewhat parallel lives. They both pursued engineering degrees, their first jobs were with defense contractors, and they both migrated to consumer and medical product development. They met at a Seattle design firm in the 1990s and later both joined an internet start-up that went under in 2000.

It was after the crazy dot-com era, often spent eating and sleeping in the office madly pursuing ‘the’ big stock market windfall, they decided to take charge of their fate and do something different. With the combined resources of two other original co-conspirators (now since departed), Synapse was born.

You’d think their first goal would have been to have Synapse become the most innovative, fastest growing, and successful design firm in the Northwest. You’d be wrong. Synapse has quickly taken that position, but the original goals were to work on technically challenging projects, design meaningful products, and live well-rounded and balanced lives. No nights sleeping under the desk, no missed family vacations. Instead, their primary objective was to create and foster the “best work culture ever.”
And, they’ve done it. Part of the Synapse culture is the emphasis on entrepreneurship. It’s important for employees to be free to test ideas and take risks – even if they fail. It turns out that the entrepreneurial culture they’ve developed is a key to their success. Their clients know that Synapse is the place for innovation – far removed from the “cube farm,” and they know that Synapse will always come through because “no client can ever be unhappy.” Given that standard, it’s not surprising that every client has sought Synapse’s assistance on an on-going basis.

So what does Synapse do? They turn ideas into reality. For every new product, there exists a definite what, where, why, when and who…Synapse is the how. They take each client product idea (the what), learn all they can about why the client wants the product and for whom, then factor in when and where it should be produced and most importantly, figure out how—how to specify, design, test and integrate technologies, how to configure the supply chain for the level of production the client needs, and how to manufacture it in the timeframe and location required. Then Synapse does it. It’s a turn-key operation that goes from concept to volume manufacturing.

It has been ten years and the company has changed substantially. Synapse has transformed from a tiny start-up operating out of a leaky-roofed industrial factory space in SODO, to 70+ employees housed in a slick downtown location (complete with indoor climbing wall and other fun amenities) with plans to open an office in the Bay Area later this year. But because Scott and Ross have stayed with their original concept for the company they have the same basic assets they started with: great people and great reputations.

Washington Business Alliance