In the summer of 2005, as two college roommates might, Alan and Jeff went backpacking in Europe.
We started the trip in Spain, and after we devoured the requisite amount of jamón, queso, pan, y cerveza, we set out on the next phase of our adventure. With tickets in hand, we boarded the 7pm train from Madrid to Paris.
There's not a lot to do on a night train except talk, so we talked about something that bothered us: the way our friends figured out what classes to take, or, more often, the way they didn't. We were especially bothered by the way that some students seemed to have access to privileged silos of information about what classes and professors to take (such as in fraternities and honor societies), and others didn't.
So, we had an idea: create a site that would invite open dialogue between all students, and even professors, about what classes they were taking, help them actually plan and map their way through college, and share their experiences to help each other make the best decisions and to learn what they wanted to learn.
Over the course of that single night, we sketched out wireframes of what was to become our first collaborative project—theCourseForum. It looked something like this:
In honor of that first lucky shot, we call our company Night Train.
What matters to us now, what problems we know about and want to solve, and what skills we have to offer have all changed a lot since then. We have experiences leading organizations, co-creating communities, building technology products, building buildings, running teams, raising children, and more.
But one thing that hasn't changed is that Jeff and Alan are still keeping each other up late talking about things that we want to make better. Amazingly, some people even hire us to do that for them, too, which is nice: it's fun and it helps us buy more queso, pan, y cerveza. We write about what comes out of all of that here, and you can follow along.
Our goal has always been the same: addressing systemic issues, with people who really care about making the world better, and doing so with simple, elegant solutions. We feel fortunate to have collaborated on projects in renewable energy, food ecosystems, healthcare, and alternative education over the years.