At the beginning of Karma, we tried to pinpoint exactly who a typical Karma customer would be. Now that we are a few months in, we’ve come to realize one thing: there is no typical Karma customer. In order to express just how unique they are, we’re going to highlight some of them in a series of interviews. Next up: Thomas Crenshaw.

Thomas CrenshawThomas Crenshaw

After finishing second in the Alaska State Championships, Thomas Crenshaw planned to continue racing road bikes in college, at the University of Oregon. But, it seems his life had other plans for him, as a chain of circumstances changed his path.

On Friday, he found out that he didn’t have enough money to go to the University of Oregon. On Saturday, he smashed his dad’s pickup and didn’t have insurance. On Sunday, a Navy recruiter said his scores were high enough to become a Navy Nuclear Technician.

“It sounded good and I definitely didn’t want to live at home and go to University of Alaska Anchorage. No offense to UAA, but I wanted out of Alaska.”

Thomas CrenshawThomas Crenshaw

He joined the Navy as an Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) and served aboard two submarines, the USS George Washington Carver and the USS Montpelier. After 10 years, he learned a great deal of skills that he still applies today.

“Just because someone is higher up in the hierarchy than you, doesn’t mean they have all the answers. Treat the people who you work with, work for and work for you with respect and you can accomplish so much more in a shorter period of time. Also... don’t open the hatches at test depth.”

After a few years, Thomas wound up at AOL. He compared his time there to the Navy, in that it helped shape who he is today professionally, as well as, gave him an intense introduction, this time to enterprise software development. Following AOL, he brought his skills to Discovery. As a huge fan of the Discovery Channel, he couldn’t resist. He described working there as a “huge culture shock.”

“Discovery was just starting to think seriously about treating their websites as more than marketing cost-centers. They needed to embrace software development as a process, and the fact that they weren’t already doing this was a great learning experience.”

One of his more recent destinations found him at PBS. Thomas was clear that PBS was the best job he’s had in terms of culture. He became an integral component to their software development team while there.

“When I started at PBS, their interactive department was barebones. From those humble beginnings, I helped build out a world-class product and software development team that continue to build great solutions to public media problems.”

Upon leaving PBS, he knew there was more work to be done in public media. He felt he could make better use of his skills working directly with the stations. He relocated to San Francisco, where he started contract work for KQED, their public television station.

Along with KQED, Thomas and his girlfriend own their own business, Circa Digital Publishing, where they work with companies and celebrities in order to monetize their existing content. One of their first projects was to create a new fan site for former Dirty Jobs host, Mike Rowe. Additionally, they work to create eBooks, social media campaigns, and whichever projects peak their interests.

Thomas remembers exactly how he stumbled upon Karma.

“I was looking for a mobile hotspot solution and was disenchanted with what the big guys were offering. I didn’t want to be roped into a long-term contract for a device that I use only from time-to-time. Around this time, my girlfriend sent me a Netted article about Karma. I knew this was the solution to my mobile Wi-Fi problem.”

He pointed out how he loves the “voice” of Karma. Describing it as, “playful, without being unprofessional” and “whimsical.” He enjoys the pocket fitting, form factor and the pay-as-you-go pricing. His girlfriend, who owns a condo in Florida, is also a huge fan. Since she has no internet there, she can simply use her own account with Thomas’ Karma and keep up with all of her projects.

As an always connected user, Thomas finds himself in constant need of the internet, which is why he supports open Wi-Fi.

“The challenge is going to be to get the public to trust an open Wi-Fi hotspot. I think it’s great that I’m able to share my Karma.”

Keep sharing, Thomas!

About Dave Ford

That guy who knows more about sports than technology