Matt Hyatt, Founder and CEO, Rocket IT

Rocket IT’s Matt Hyatt debunks the notion that I.T. people are mostly nerdy and impersonal. Matt has a lot of passion for people, business and his community. It was awesome to spend time with him hearing about what matters most.

Please describe your passion and tell me what inspired you or led you to your current career?

I remember as a child, riding in the school bus and passing various businesses and wondering what kind of business I wanted to one day own. I was into my bicycle, so thought I might want to open a bike shop, and I also loved photography. At some point, I discovered computers early on and I was instantly fascinated by them. I remember playing one of the first consumer video games, Pong.

I became interested in business and the idea of entrepreneurship so everything that I did as a young man pointed to that. I found that the traditional path of formal training in school was not the right path for me because I am an experiential learner, needing to do and try things, to figure out what I like, what I was good at, and how things are done. I worked for various companies in different roles and when I was laid off from my last bona fide job, I started this business. I was 25 years old. As the business began to grow and I needed to hire people, I asked myself why I was doing what I was doing. It is not easy to run your own business because every problem is your problem and at times, it is lonely. I began to write down the reasons I had, from early on, and realized that the times I felt most successful and most fulfilled and happy was when I felt like I had made a difference in someone else’s life.

In the early 1990s I worked in a shop selling computers. This was before most homes and businesses had computers. Software piracy was rampant. A customer bought a computer from me and wanted me to install Microsoft Office software for free. When I refused to do it, he got angry. We talked about why I couldn’t do that for him because it was wrong and it was stealing. He left in a huff. Weeks later I got a card in the mail from him, thanking me for my perspective and said that I had really made him think. I felt good that even in a small way, I helped him think differently about something in a positive way. I realized how this sort of thing gave me a real high, so this became our stated purpose: Help People Thrive. It is our purpose and it means to love your neighbor. How can I help you be successful and bring you to your highest possible good? I try to do this with every person that I encounter and we want to attract people to our team who are wired the same way.

I think this is the meaning of life! I believe that everyone is wired this way and we just need to unpack it. Being intentional about being a positive influence in other people’s lives is powerful. If we could all go through our lives asking ourselves how we can help others, what a great place this world would be! I fail all the time but try to get back on track being the best version of myself. We try to build on this in our organization and be intentional.

What is your favorite restaurant in Suwanee and what do you love there?

We like La Belle Vie. It is a chef-lead restaurant. Maureen and I were the very first people to order a cocktail there when we learned that they had just received their liquor license.

How long have you worked or lived in Suwanee?

We’ve lived here since 2012 but we were admirers of Suwanee long before that. I have been in Gwinnett for 29 years. When I left home, I wanted to live in Atlanta because it is close to the mountains where my grandparents lived and it was close enough to home (Tampa) that I could hitchhike home if things didn’t work out.

What has kept you here?

I thought I would only be here for a couple of years but we love living in Georgia. I love the four seasons and I like that we have an international airport in Atlanta where we can fly to almost anywhere in the world. We have thought about living somewhere else in Georgia, but my business is here as well as our friends. We are quite content to be based here and visit other places. Suwanee has public art, dining and outdoor activities like the trails for walking, running or bicycling. We are getting some nice restaurants now, too.

How big is your family?

My wife, Maureen, and two adult children, Indy and Zachary. Indy attends UGA in Athens and Zack is a very successful musician and producer who currently lives in New York City. His stage name is “Peachy.” He travels the world and has learned to speak several languages. Maureen and I recently adopted two puppies – sisters Daisy and Willow – to keep us company at home.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in Suwanee?

There are a lot of interesting people in Suwanee. Nick Masino is high on the list. His wife, Suzanne, is also super interesting. Jeff Spence is another.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

Amsterdam is one of my favorite places in the world. It is beautiful. The architecture is amazing and old, and the buildings are tall and skinny and lean one way or another. We love the canals, galleries, shops and restaurants. Most people there are fit, tall and good looking. Bicycles are the preferred method of transportation. It takes some getting used to the traffic with bicycles everywhere.

What is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?

We didn’t get to go to the movies very often, but I remember seeing Song of the South and Star Wars in the theater.

What advice would you give a crowd of people?

There is no greater satisfaction in life than making a positive impact on the lives of others.

What is something on your bucket list?

I would love to see Alaska someday.

If you could take anyone to lunch (dead or alive) who would that be and where would you go?

My grandpa, who has passed. He was a very simple guy and he would enjoy a picnic table on the side of the road.

What is your favorite music? Name three bands you would like to see.

I am not really big into music. I realize that there is a difference in the way I hear music and how my wife hears music. She hears the lyrics and I seem to focus on the beat and the sound. I love Tom T. Hall and Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Beach Boys. I used to play “Ring of Fire” loud on my Bluetooth speaker early on Saturday mornings to get the kids out of bed!

What local business makes you the most nostalgic about Suwanee?

Big Peach Running does a wonderful job of bringing the community together with their group runs!

What is your favorite thing about Suwanee?

The people. The people who live here want to be here and I like that.

Would you rather speak to a crowd of 500 or sing to a crowd of 50?

Oh, certainly speak! I couldn’t go through life knowing I had damaged others by my singing (laughs).

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Initially, I thought that I would be ready to retire when the kids moved out of the house. When they did, I realized that I wasn’t ready for retirement. My hope is that 10 years from now I am still doing something productive, working with people that I like in a community that I like. There is a very good chance that I will be right here in Suwanee.

What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?

I like to run and have done nine or ten 200-mile relays with my friends. There is an organization called Ragnar who hold these races all over the place. I am usually the start man because I am the oldest and fattest, and they want to get me over with (laughs)!

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