Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has named Jeremy Hitchcock '04 the 2015 WPI Innovator of the Year. Hitchcock, co-founder and CEO of Dyn Corporation, one of the world’s leading online traffic management and Internet performance providers, will be honored Thursday, Nov. 5, at 4:45 p.m. in Alden Memorial on the WPI campus.
Established in 2011, the Innovator of the Year Award is presented to a graduate or friend of WPI who demonstrates exemplary accomplishments as an innovator, and showcases individuals who have excelled in driving innovation within enterprises of all kinds. The award honors individuals who can serve as role models for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends, and aims to inspire honorees to commit their time and talent to help WPI become a leading global contributor to addressing grand global challenges.
"When people say I'm an innovator I'm a little surprised, actually," Hitchcock said. "Really, I just think of doing what's natural: how do you make things a little bit faster, how do you make things more available, and how can you try to make the technology easier for people to use? When technology is indiscernible from what we know, it's like magic. To me, innovation really means the way in which we’re inventing the future. The question is, can you come up with something better?"
Hitchcock co-founded Dyn in 2001 while he was still an undergraduate at WPI. Under his leadership, the company has become a resource to the most visited web properties in the world, helping companies, including Twitter, CNBC, and Hershey, to monitor, control, and optimize their online infrastructure. Dyn was named one of Deloitte Technology’s Fast 500 in 2013 and 2015, and made Inc. magazine’s 5,000 List of fastest-growing private companies in America from 2007 to 2013.
"Dyn really started at WPI," Hitchcock said. "I think WPI exposes people to the way to solve problems. You have a problem and then when you start exploring it and tinkering with it you actually find out that a lot of people have that exact same problem.
"Dyn got its start when we realized there were ways in which we could make the computers talk to each other in a different way. For us the problem that we faced was working on a lab paper, and we’d have to print it somewhere else. So we built a technology that allowed us to take advantage of the fact that everything was on the same network.
"There were plenty of people at WPI who really wanted to help. They were intellectually curious about what we were looking at, what we were seeing, and the problems we were solving. More and more it became apparent that this wasn't just some hobby; this was some real material.
"This was the beginning of the cloud migration and really the beginning where home broadband connections were starting to become more useful as high-speed broadband became more common,” he added. “There was no business plan—no market research would have said, 'This is a huge opportunity.' It was really something through exploration where we said, 'You have this problem and you, too, have the problem,' and all of sudden—before you knew it—we had a pretty large customer base."
In addition to his work at Dyn, Hitchcock is an angel investor and avid supporter of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. He helped create Dyn Hackademy, a four-day program aimed at educating the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, and he has written extensively on education, building ecosystems, and running a "bootstrapped" and "hyper-growth" company for publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe.
Hitchcock, who holds a BS in management information systems from WPI, is also a graduate of Leadership Greater Manchester and Leadership New Hampshire, two programs focused on the development of talented potential leaders interested in making an impact on issues facing the region and state.
He maintains an active relationship with WPI as a member of the Technical Advisors Network, the Management Executive Council, the Venture Forum, and the Collaborative for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Dyn also provided financial support to WPI's User Experience and Decision Making Laboratory in the Foisie School of Business, and Dyn has sponsored WPI student project teams and interns and hired WPI graduates. Jeremy and his wife, Elizabeth Cash Hitchcock '02 (BS, computer science), are active WPI volunteers and both are members of the Foisie School's Dean’s Council of Strategic Advisors. They frequently serve as guest speakers, host receptions for new students and their families every year, and support academic programming.
"I give back to WPI because I really believe in its mission of innovation and entrepreneurship," Hitchcock said. "WPI students, by design, are curious, they work well on teams, and they're intellectually interested in tinkering around and trying to figure out what's next. They know and believe in timelines and they know and believe in deliverables. Project-based learning puts you in an environment where you have to be a leader, a follower, a teacher, and a student all at the same time. That teaches you to work with others and really learn in a different setting, which is what you do for the rest of your life."
As an undergraduate, Hitchcock was a member of the Tau Beta Pi fraternity and participated in the Brass Choir, Wind Ensemble, Band, Trombone Ensemble, Jazz Group, Symphonic Association, and the student newspaper, Newspeak. His personal interests include aviation, playing trombone, roasting coffee, hiking, and entrepreneurship.