Spencer Thomason and Eric Vance are software developers and co-founders of Clean Router, a wireless router that filters the Internet for parents who want to keep their kids safe online. Unlike software filters that you have to configure individually per device, the Clean Router automatically filters the Internet at the source with one simple device. With over 8,000 units sold, the Clean Router is the ultimate parental control!
What part of Arizona do you call home?
I live in Gilbert, Eric lives in Mesa.
What constitutes your tech background??
Eric and I have been software developers a combined 30+ years. We worked together early on in our careers and have followed each other around different jobs in the Valley. We’ve worked together at the University of Phoenix, JDA Software, and Corasworks—then Eric worked at Ticketmaster while I worked at GoDaddy.
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture?
Clean Router is the first business that we have owned. We have always built products for other people. We always thought people who run their own companies are crazy—now we know they are!
How did you come up with the idea for Clean Router?
Eric and I are the fathers of six and five kids respectively. Currently in the customer base, the average home has 16 devices connected to the Internet. This is what digital parenting looks like in 2017. It has simply become impossible to manage all of the devices in your home individually.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
The opportunity to tackle hard challenges head-on and figure out the best way to attack them. When we started the company, we thought you just came up with a great product and it would sell itself. Now that we are working to scale the company we are faced with daily “problems” that are a constant challenge to solve. There are very few minutes of the day that we aren’t working to work to grow our company!
Our kids like it because they get a lot of free Clean Router gear.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
There were a lot of challenges to overcome. Finding hardware that is robust enough, and yet cost effective enough to be a residential product, is a large challenge. Also, the Internet is a quickly changing place. Continuing to stay ahead of the changes of the Internet is a constant battle. But that’s also the strength of our product—we do the work so that parents can know their kids are safe online.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
Eric is native to Arizona. I moved here when I got married in 1999. We’ve both worked throughout the tech industry here.
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
The cost of living to the ratio of opportunity. There is a surprisingly large amount of tech jobs and the ratio of that to the cost of living makes it an ideal place to live and raise a family.
Another thing that I love about Arizona is the #yesphx movement. The people around this movement are the nicest, most helpful and most encouraging people I have ever met. They truly live by the motto that a high tide raises all boats. They are patient and kind to those of us trying this for the first time and are willing to help and guide along the way.
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
The number of businesses with successful exits. I think having this will provide wins for investors and breed the serial entrepreneurs to continue to build great companies.
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What is your favorite place to get breakfast in your city?
Crackers and Co.
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
Too many to pick!
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office (coffee shop, coworking space, etc)?
Clean Router is almost entirely virtual. So we either work from our homes, or else together at our office space at LaunchPoint in Mesa.
Best place for a meeting over drinks?
We are Mormon, so the “hard stuff” usually means diet or non-diet. Sodalicious is one of our favorite places to grab a drink.
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
Winning Venture Madness!
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of?
Just because it is a dry heat doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
Get out and talk to people! It can be a little bit of work at first to find the entrepreneur hangouts—but once you do, everyone is extremely inviting and welcoming. The community here is great. Get out and talk to people, learn from each other, and offer to give back in any way that you can!
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