Cultural vibe Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010

If you believe that the best way to become a leader is through trial, error and hardship, you can probably identify with the story of Richard Sheridan, co-founder, president and CEO of Menlo Innovations.

Sheridan’s interest in innovation goes back to his years in high school when he began writing software and coming up with different ideas. He became the manager of software development at another company but was laid off in 2001.

Rather than letting the tough economy at the time affect him, he contacted a former colleague and two other investors and together they began to build Menlo Innovations from scratch.

Two years later, Sheridan was the Forbes “Hire Yourself” cover story for choosing entrepreneurship over unemployment. Within six years, Menlo became one of Inc.’s 500 fastest growing private companies. Despite the tough times in the economy and in the IT industry, Menlo kept swimming upstream toward growth.

A key part of Menlo’s growth is the work environment that Sheridan has constructed. He has eschewed the stereotypical office cubicle farm in favor of a large, open room in which employees work two to a computer. The atmosphere helps aid in creating discourse and idea sharing among employees, energizing the work force and preventing stagnation.

The uncommon work environment has attracted the attention of others. Outside visitors are a common sight at Menlo, as employees from companies such as IBM and Quicken Loans, along with university students, tour the office with Sheridan. The group from Quicken Loans paid for the tour and a contingent of 25 visitors stayed for five hours, learning about Menlo’s creative, collaborative atmosphere.

The collaborative atmosphere is one of the main selling points for prospective employees and a big reason why Sheridan is looking to increase his work force from 50 to 75 this year.

How to reach: Menlo Innovations, (734) 665-1847 or