Tag Archives: Apple

Zealous Melon

December 7, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

With just one look at Zealous Melon’s hip basement headquarters, the fruit theme becomes apparent. The walls and the furniture, like the business’ logo, are bright orange and green. “Our office could pass for a frozen yogurt place,” laughs Käj Jorgensen, one of Zealous Melon’s two founders. That’s exactly the type of fun yet relaxed atmosphere Jorgensen and co-founder Brandon Blakemore want for their technology training and consulting company.

Blakemore and Jorgensen, both Omaha natives, met while working for Apple. Blakemore was a senior at University of Nebraska-Omaha and worked as a trainer, technician, and business specialist. Jorgensen had just graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan and primarily taught consumers (specifically those unfamiliar with Apple technology) how to use computers, iPhones, 
and iPads.

After six years with Apple, they both decided they wanted to start their own business. “We saw needs that weren’t being met,” Blakemore says. “Apple is very good at selling their products, but they’re not good with helping people implement those products into the workplace or their daily lives.”

Blakemore and Jorgensen quit on the same day, even handing in their two weeks notices together. That was when Zealous Melon was born—or, at least, that was when the idea of what would become Zealous Melon was born.

Although they knew what they wanted to do, they struggled with a company name. “Eventually, [my sister] Lauren came up with it using a name generator,” says Blakemore. “The generator suggested ‘Jealous Melon.’ We liked ‘Melon’ because we wanted something with fruit—like Apple—but not ‘Jealous.’ So we switched ‘Jealous’ to ‘Zealous,’ which worked better because we’re passionate about what we do.”

So what exactly does Zealous Melon do? They help people invest in their technology. For example, if a company wants to train its staff in integrating iPads with Windows desktops, Zealous Melon is there. “We started with training,” Jorgensen says. “But as the year went on, we started doing technology consulting, database design, iTunes book publishing, and 
web development.”

With clients like Valley Boys Roofing, KANEKO, 3M, and Joslyn Art Museum, Zealous Melon seems to be climbing quickly from its initial launch in 2012. Its success comes not only from Blakemore and Jorgensen’s aptitude for technology, but their pairing as well.

Blakemore is the business-minded workaholic; Jorgensen, the creative spirit. They mesh well. In fact, they’re not just business partners; they’re roommates, too. “We’re very involved with each other,” Jorgensen says. “You could say we’re ‘office spouses.’ I guess our living arrangement makes us more spousal, too.”

Blakemore laughs, “We both have girlfriends though!”

When it comes to who does what, they both agree that it depends on who is the better fit for the task. “If it has numbers, Brandon does it,” Jorgensen says. “If it’s something written, I do it. But we always run everything by each other.”

That includes office music, which Blakemore says is something Jorgensen can’t work without. “If we’re coding, we’re listening to something loud and angry, like Skrillex. Otherwise, it’s classic rock or something,” he says.

Some days, they work tirelessly from sunup to sundown. Other days, they’ll work on the interior design of their office or make the drive to El Bee’s in Waterloo, one of their favorite lunch destinations. Whatever they’re doing, they do it together.

The pair has great ideas for Zealous Melon’s future. Application development intrigues them, as does helping people with home automation, which their office already uses. (They can control their music, mood lighting, projector, and thermostat from their iPhones, iPads, and 
Apple desktops.)

No matter what Blakemore and Jorgensen’s futures hold, one thing is certain—the fruits of their labor will continue to grow a 
successful business.

Macquariums

November 25, 2012 by
Photography by Capture Photography and Videography

If Jake Harms knew then what he knows now, would he still have ventured down this entrepreneurial path? Yes, he says, but “If I divided out the time I had into it [by] the money that I’ve made, I would probably cry,” he chuckles.

Harms’ stumbled onto his labor of love a few years ago when, at work, he was asked to discard an old Apple iMac computer. “I’m the kind of guy who likes to tinker with things…tear them apart and see how they work,” he says. “So, instead of throwing it in the trash can, I brought it home.” He recalls that the computer sat in his garage for a few weeks, until one day he saw a picture on the internet of a fish tank made out of the same iMac computer. “The Apple iMac had a really neat design…the transparent case…They looked really cool and they were all different colors. I decided, I can make one of those.”

For fun, Harms set out to design a tank and researched which filters and lights would best suit his project. He made a few more, each time tweaking here and there until he perfected his design. “I had a buddy who thought it was pretty cool, so I made one for him. Then I made one for another buddy. I thought, ‘Oh, I could probably sell about 50 of these in a year.’ That’s kind of how it all started.”Portraits 1 copy

Little did he know just how popular his little project would become. Since creating his first aquarium in late 2007, Harms has created a website and has sold close to 400 units. The units, which go for $299, can be ordered via his website and come built-to-order, with computer color and decorative details as options. With requests coming in from all over the world, Harms’ future looks pretty busy. “I get a lot of orders from the UK, Australia…I’ve shipped them to every corner of the world,” he says. “I don’t know how some people find out about them…I guess that’s the magic power of the internet.” Harms has even sold one of his creations to an Apple executive. “I asked him if I should be worried about building and selling these [aquariums from iMac computers]. He pretty much said no because it’s not giving Apple a bad name. But if I was making a million on them, then there might be an issue.”

With profiles in magazines and newspapers, a website, and Facebook page, this “little hobby” has become more of a side business. In fact, there’s a waiting list for his creations. In addition to working full-time in carpentry and construction, Harms and his wife also have a wedding photography and videography business.

When he does sit down, he is usually working on his aquariums, either buffing them free of scratches and signs of wear, or mass-assembling them. “I never really build one at a time,” he says. “I always take apart, like, 10 or 20 at a time and modify them assembly-line style.” He has the creation process pretty much down to a science, so the building goes relatively quickly. It’s tracking down the monitors and getting them that can be the most time-consuming part. “It can be kind of a hassle getting them,” he says.

In addition to creating aquariums, Harms offers aquarium-building kits, for those who may have an iMac of their own and are handy enough to take on their own project.

With orders coming in faster than Harms can make them, he is beginning to consider future projects. “My plan is to start making other things out of computers. I’ll start to do that as soon as I can’t find any more of the iMacs,” he shares. But for the foreseeable future, he’s happy to stay busy doing what he loves. “There’s a lot of time involved, but I enjoy it a lot.”