New!Team announcement

Get to Know Kevin McDowell, Who’s Leading Gooten’s Partner Growth Team

Get to Know Kevin McDowell, Who’s Leading Gooten’s Partner Growth Team, Gooten

For Kevin McDowell, being a leader has always come naturally, and his affinity for leadership began with sports—specifically baseball, basketball and football. “I played sports my entire life, I was always that captain of the team. It comes naturally to me,” Kevin said.

Kevin previously worked for Indeed. He had no intention of leaving—until he had one conversation with Gooten President Maddy Alcala that changed his mind. “I was absolutely sold,” Kevin recalled. “I had a few more conversations with some of my now-team members, so Stefan Bognar, who is on our strategic team, and our head of finance, Greg [Madormo], and everyone was wonderful.”

“Undeniably, I feed off of energy,” he said. “Maddy brought a great energy to the conversation. But one of the biggest things for me was working from home. Obviously, this was the start of COVID, I believe, March 2020, at the time when we first had our conversation. So I was really concerned with the state of going back to an office. So permanent work from home was really appealing to me.”

In addition, Kevin said, he strongly felt — and feels — that Gooten has the opportunity to be the best company in the print on demand space. He explains Gooten’s promise with a sports metaphor. “Back in the 70s and 80s, Adidas was the number one sportswear apparel company. And then in the 90s, Nike signed Michael Jordan and now Nike is the number one sportswear brand, at least domestically,” he said. “[Competitor] Printful is number one today, but we have an opportunity to overcome them in the future.

Most importantly, Kevin fell in love with Gooten’s vision. “I felt like where they were trying to go in the e-commerce market held significant weight in terms of the future of the company. So with that, I decided to make the switch.”

For six months, Kevin was in a partnership manager role at Gooten before being promoted to a senior partner manager role, in which he started working with Gooten’s enterprise partners. After some organizational changes, Kevin was offered the role of manager of the partner growth team in April.

Compared to a traditional sales role, he said, his role at Gooten is different — it’s more collaboration-based. “A lot of what we do is kind of consulting,” Kevin said. “In traditional sales, it’s: ‘Here’s what you’re buying,’ and after you purchase it we never speak. This is not like that at all. We’re advocates for our partners and help strategize, game plan and coach them through how to scale their business and how to help them grow.”

Born and raised in New York City, Kevin went to college at Iona College in New Rochelle. “I was not the kind of person who went to college unsure of what I wanted to major in,” Kevin recalled. He studied business management and never looked back.

Kevin moved to Miami in September 2021, where he says he’s been to the beach more in the past 10 months than in the previous five years in New York. His new place of residence also makes it easier for him to go on vacation to his favorite place—the Caribbean. “I’m an island boy,” he said. “I go once a year.”

When he’s not working, Kevin is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan (“I get a lot of hate in New York for that,” he joked), and he also loves the New York Yankees. He’s big into movies (his favorite: Wolf of Wall Street) and cars (his dream car is the Ferrari 488 Pista).

A huge part of Kevin’s job is coaching, mentoring, and motivating my team, providing them with strategy and game plans for Gooten’s accounts and how to help them grow, how to help them diversify their product assortment and also adopt new products that Gooten is rolling out. Though being a manager is new for Kevin professionally, it has already started to come naturally to him. He has an open-door communication with his teammates and values honesty and transparency. “For the most part, it's just taking what I know, taking what I've seen be successful with managing accounts and trickling that down and working with my team and mentors, and helping them do the same. Being able to help my team members grow, help them see success, mentor them, show them exactly where I've seen success and help them drive success — it’s super fulfilling. It's fulfilling just as much as seeing your partner scale and grow.”

Driving success for Gooten’s partners is Kevin’s favorite thing about the role. “As mentioned, traditional sales, sometimes you don't get to see the fruits of your labor. Whereas here, we don't make money unless our partners are making money. Once you actually see a partner who's going from, let's say, 70,000 a month, then the next year, that same month, they're doing maybe 180,000—it's super fulfilling in that sense.”

More announcements from Gooten

Team announcement

Meet Jovana Kovacevic: Gooten’s Director of Vendor Management

Meet Jovana Kovacevic: Gooten’s Director of Vendor Management

Jovana Kovacevic is one of Gooten’s very first and longest-standing employees. She began as a vendor operations analyst in 2014 when the company was a lean team of only 18 employees. Today, Jovana’s career has come full circle as she now heads up the Vendor Management and Operations team as its Director of Vendor Management. “The management and operations team is essentially responsible for making sure that everything is running smoothly,” Jovana said. “We identify any issues and resolve all problems that might arise with manufacturers as quickly as we can…The majority of my role is communicating on a daily basis with external stakeholders and manufacturers.” Jovana attributes a large part of her ability to continuously grow at the company to Gooten’s culture. “The culture was the first thing that brought me here because I could tell that Gooten valued their employees’ opinions and wanted to help them grow,” Jovana said. “The company was quite small, which I loved because I knew that I was going to learn more. In a larger company, you tend to have one job and you're narrowly focused on that. But in a startup, you're able to wear multiple hats which is both challenging and exciting for me.” Over the course of Jovana’s eight years at Gooten, she has worked in many different capacities. First, she handled the company’s data and analytics. But later, as the team restructured, Jovana transitioned into customer support and partner onboarding. In 2019, she moved back into the vendor and operations space where she quickly climbed to a leadership position. Another aspect of the Gooten culture that Jovana greatly appreciates is its remote work policy, which has been in place since its founding. “The ability to work from home wasn't as popular back then, especially in Serbia. So having the opportunity to interact with different people from all over the world while still living in a small town in the middle of nowhere was very appealing,” Jovana recalled. “Now, we have a large community in Serbia and teammates in the U.S., Colombia and Canada. We have quite a lot of people who work at Gooten that you wouldn't necessarily get to meet otherwise.” Gooten being at the forefront of work flexibility trends that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic speaks to the trust and agility that are inherent in its culture. “At Gooten, leadership trusts you to do the best that you can and they never feel the need to micromanage you,” Jovana said. “You are allowed and expected to make mistakes and it's not held against you. They know that mistakes happen but it is how you recover from them and what you learn that matters.” As a team leader, Jovana operates in a similar way that encourages trust, growth and support. She conducts regular check-ins with her direct reports to ask about any challenges they might be having, needs that aren't being met or feedback they can offer. “I talk to my team regularly about where they want to see their careers grow because I don't want anyone to stay on my team if they don't feel passionate about the job,” Jovana said. Gooten also helps to encourage this culture of growth by offering yearly stipends for its employees to develop their careers and skills. “In every company, there are some things that you can't control or fix. But if your employees feel heard and valued, then that's the most important thing.”

Team announcement

Introducing Adam Noon, the Solutions Architect Leading Gooten’s Technical Team

Introducing Adam Noon, the Solutions Architect Leading Gooten’s Technical Team

Adam Noon is Gooten’s Solutions Architect and has been working at the company for close to three years. Originally from England, Adam has now been living in Canada for twelve years with his wife and two kids. When he is not busy spearheading Gooten’s team of developers, Adam and his family love snowboarding, hiking, and visiting their trailer, which is parked near the Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. “It’s a beautiful place so we spend as much time outdoors as we can,” Adam said. Additionally, Adam loves practicing karate with his children and reading science fiction. Ironically, despite being married to a librarian, he prefers audiobooks to reading. “The one thing I do miss about commuting into work is that I don't get as much time to listen to audiobooks,” Adam joked. Before working at Gooten, Adam worked at Getty Images for nearly nine years. During this time he worked as an application developer, senior application developer, and principal software engineer. While he loved his time at Getty and was able to build up his technical skills at the company, the daily commute into the office began to be a challenge for him. “I was working for Getty in downtown Calgary and I live north of Calgary, so it was a forty-minute commute each way. Which I didn't mind, but it's a couple of hours out of my day that I had to spend away from my family,” Adam said. “So Gooten being a remote-first company was super interesting to me.” Adam found his way to Gooten through a previous manager from Getty who worked at the company and thought Adam would be a great fit. “I hadn’t heard of Gooten and I only knew a little bit about print on demand, but I was super impressed,” he said. In addition to its product and globally distributed team, another thing that attracted Adam to the company was the growth potential and the ability to be a pioneer in the e-commerce space. Adam joined Gooten in October 2019 as a full-stack developer, deciding to take a step down after his previous position as a principal engineer. “I wanted to dial it back a bit, get my hands dirty again, and really just be involved with writing code,” Adam said. But as Adam learned more about the systems and the direction of the company and familiarized himself with his team’s technical skills, his work gained the attention of the leadership staff and he was asked if he wanted to move up to a more senior role. Adam was promoted to principal engineer in July 2021. “That promotion came out of the blue, but it was just a fantastic kind of recognition for my work,” Adam said. “Gooten’s leadership team is really great at taking time to get to know their employees and think about what they can do and where their potential lies.” Now, Adam is a technical team lead, responsible for answering any technical questions and guiding the team in the right direction. Since joining Gooten, one of Adam's favorite things about working at the company is its diverse and inclusive culture. Since Gooten is a fully remote organization, its team members are spread out all across the world, particularly throughout Europe and North America. “Someone in my position who has lived in Western Europe and North America has a very different set of experiences to someone, like my colleague, who grew up in Ukraine and recently had to leave. So having all those different backgrounds is a huge addition to our culture as we are constantly introduced to things that we wouldn't come across normally,” Adam said. “Gooten is very unique in that way.”