New Tech Flashback November 9th, 2021

This week, we’re featuring Formidable, a company that presented at our New Tech Seattle event in 2019. Formidable partners with clients from startups to Fortune 100s to design and build solutions to the toughest software problems. Let’s hear what Ryan Roemer, CTO & Co-Founder of Formidable had to say!

New Tech Flashback


1.What problem is your service helping to solve?
Formidable is a digital product consultancy that provides engineering and design services to companies building modern web and mobile applications.

2. How does your service solve that problem better than other options?
As opposed to some traditional consultancy models, we typically offer embedded engineering and design teams that partner with client companies to not only help architect and implement a new application but level up the client development teams as well, better positioning the ultimate application for success over the long haul.

For example, we’ve had several instances of clients interested in the React web application framework or GraphQL API language, but lacking deep in-house engineering familiarity with the technologies. In crafting engagements in scenarios like these, we’re able to get the client off the ground with an initial full application architecture, then implement it alongside them, and educate and train the client development staff in the details of React / GraphQL / etc. along the way.

In addition, we bring expertise to every part of the application development lifecycle — including ideation, design / architecture, frontend and backend web and API development, and the cloud infrastructures needed to support the whole thing.

3. What’s the most innovative or interesting thing about your service?
Most modern, real-world web applications use open source software in some fashion, and at Formidable it is one of our main areas of focus.

Formidable has had a deep connection with the open source ecosystem since it was founded and continues in earnest to the present. We maintain a portfolio of more than 50 open source libraries that are downloaded (on average) millions of times per day in the aggregate. We contribute back to critical open source projects. And we encourage open source contribution through various internal programs that give our employees time and/or money to advance Formidable or external open source.

Thus, a large part of what makes us special is not only leveraging the amazingly powerful world of open source in creating client applications, but creating our own open source libraries to let us move faster in the bread-and-butter work we do, create positive community goodwill, and give us a unique perspective on how everything (open and closed source) comes together. All in all, if you are writing a modern React web application or building a web application with tools like webpack, there’s a good chance that you’re already using Formidable open source libraries.

4. What do you love the most about being a part of the (Northwest) tech community?
I’ve had the good fortune to be involved in a lot of community organizations here – Since moving to Seattle in 2013, I’ve been the host of the Seattle Node.js meetup. I’ve volunteered with (and spoken at) CascadiaJS, the largest JavaScript-focused conference in the PNW. Formidable has been a long-time host of the SeattleJS meetup, the area’s largest JavaScript community.

From these experiences, I think that the Northwest tech scene is a friendly and wonderful mix of people, companies, and community. The startup scene seems focused on maintainable, long-term businesses. I meet fantastic engineers solving big problems who also maintain a good sense of balance and perspective. And the local companies I’ve interacted with all seem very invested in helping the region develop further.
From our earliest days working out of a neat maker-space/coworking studio in Fremont, Formidable has had a PNW bent — and while we now have developers spread worldwide, we’re growing everywhere, including the Northwest. For those folks out there who are interested in modern application design and development, we’d love to hear from you!

5. Is there any funny story or specific moment that made you start this company?
Formidable’s creation can be attributed to two Ryans speaking at a meetup. In 2013, I had just moved to Seattle, and was writing a book on frontend JavaScript testing and looking for technical reviewers for the book. I learned of a prolific open source developer, Ryan Eastridge, who lived in Seattle and was involved in the same framework area my book covered so I set out to try and meet him and hopefully rope him in as a technical reviewer.

As fate would have it, we both were speakers at a SeattleJS event — Ryan gave the main talk on using JavaScript to control a cool, massive board full of LED lights, and I gave a lightning talk on my book. After the talks, I finally got a chance to meet Ryan and discuss all things JavaScript. As it turns out, Ryan had recently received a contract to build out the checkout application of a large e-commerce website and would need a development company to complete the work. Our discussions from there led to the founding of Formidable!

Have a company that you think has cool New Tech and would like to be featured? Let us know.

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