Marc Grabanski, CEO & UI Developer of Frontend Masters

Ode to My Business Advisor Matthew Dornquast

January 11, 2022

I met Matthew Dornquast when he was speaking on July 24th, 2011, at the Bootstrapper’s Breakfast in Minneapolis. Back then, I was just a few years into building my software development consultancy and had big dreams for it.

Matthew was sharing his stories working at Fallon and building his consultancy. I loved his stories. One story was of a $10M project for an airline company that significantly affected their stock price. I realized this man was years ahead, maybe even decades ahead of where I wanted to be!

After hearing him speak, he was kind enough to lend me an ear. I explained my dreams of building this consultancy with the best people in the world on big projects. He goes, “Ok, so you want to work on client projects with your friends, that’s cool; we used to do that.” Even after attempting to rephrase what I was saying to make it sound more grandiose, he still wasn’t buying it. He saw right through.

It was then that he dropped the statement that would change the path I was on entirely…

“Even if you build the most amazing software for another company, you don’t own it, and it won’t be maintained or fulfill your ultimate vision for it. The only way to build something you’re truly proud of is to build a product and sell it yourself.” ~Matthew Dornquast With that piece of advice, he changed the direction of my life. He was speaking from tons of experience. He went from coding software for clients to building his own software, CrashPlan. I needed to listen and change directions.

Over many months, I came to see a new vision in education. It paved the way to create what I now run, Frontend Masters.

I offered him an advisory position in my business which he gladly accepted. We met somewhat infrequently, maybe once per year, over the last five years about my business, but his advice was always incredibly thoughtful each time. He took time to pay attention and dig in. We played tennis and even texted about geeky hobbies, life, and our kids from time to time …even up until just a week ago. 😢

Matthew, I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today without your honest advice over the years. ❤️

My condolences to his wife and kids – so sorry for your loss. He was a brilliant man. RIP Matthew Dornquast, I will miss you!

Marc Grabanski, CEO & UI Developer of Frontend Masters

Career Journal on Web Dev, Business, & Life

<< 🚰 Personal Health Checklist 2021: 🤸 From Gymnastics to Game Design >>