Today’s Faces of Algolia post features Steven Merlino, a business development representative on our Sales team. After moving to San Francisco and joining Algolia as one of our first SF team members, he dove into the local community and has been raising money for people affected by life threatening diseases such as HIV/AIDS in the LGBTQ community.
Hear his story!
What is your role here at Algolia?
Being an early team member in our San Francisco office, I’ve had the opportunity to wear quite a few different hats, but my primary role now is in Business Development. When I joined the team in November 2016, I was brought in to kick off our inbound sales strategy by creating the processes for managing our inbound lead program. Once that role was stable, I trained new people to take over our inbound business.
As I started to look at new opportunities within the company, I wanted to challenge myself a bit and try something new, so I joined our newly-formed outbound team. Outbound sales at Algolia requires us to dive deep into problems we can solve for businesses. This involves evaluating the performance of their websites, and educating them in areas within their search experience that could be improved — typically around speed, relevance, UI, and UX. This process takes many hours to find the right company to target, the right people to reach out to, and to perform the evaluation itself. While this role has been challenging, I still wanted to push myself further and that’s when I started to get involved in other activities outside of work.
Why did you decide to get involved in the local community?
Unlike the majority of the team in the San Francisco office, I was new to the Bay Area — I moved here from Atlanta. While the move was exhilarating and being in a new city was amazing, I wanted to feel connected to the city I lived in, similar to the way I felt back home. That’s when I decided that I should pick up one of my old activities from back home – Cheerleading.
The first thing I typed into Google was Cheer San Francisco and boom — there was a team called Cheer San Francisco! I emailed the team saying I wanted to join, so they invited me to one of their invitationals and that’s when I discovered that this wasn’t an ordinary cheer team. These cheerleaders were all adults, all volunteering their time to raise money for charities in the Bay Area that helped the LGBTQ community. I was truly blown away and from that moment I knew that I had to be on the team.
Why is this organization meaningful to you?
Simple — the people I’ve had a chance to meet and lives I can impact. While at events raising money, countless people that have had a friend, loved one, or even themselves affected by HIV/AIDS have thanked us for bringing awareness to illnesses that impact the LGBTQ community. With charitable donations, it’s easy to forget at times that there are real people directly benefiting from your efforts — for me, the interaction with the community that we impact keeps me coming back.
Cheer San Francisco started back in 1980 as a means to raise spirits when the AIDS epidemic was significantly impacting the LGBTQ community. We were established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1993 and in 2004 we started the Cheer For Life Foundation to help other cities across the country do what we have done in the Bay Area. Since 2004 we have raised over $350,000!
How can we get involved?
That is actually a great question. As a fully volunteer organization, we are always looking for help 😉 Information for how to get involved can be found on the Cheer SF Facebook page and on their website. On these pages, you will find the local organization we are supporting, like the Shanti Project, videos of our performances, where to find us next, and a donate option if you would like to support our cause.
If you are interested in joining the team, we are having tryout clinics on June 26th, June 30th, and July 1st, with tryout being held on July 3rd. It doesn’t matter if you are old, young, have experience cheering, or no experience at all — we would love to see you! You can find out more information on our Facebook page about tryouts and if you want to apply you can do so here!
I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me and Cheer San Francisco 🙂 With San Francisco Pride coming up this weekend (June 23rd and 24th), you can come say hi and meet the rest of the team! We will be in the parade on Sunday and performing on the main stage in front of City Hall on Saturday at 2:10pm and Sunday at 1:45pm. Hope to see you there!
-Be Proud. Be Loud.