The Story of Shotwell

Why would an insurance company have a blue dog as a logo? And what does it tell you about the company you are working with?

What’s with the Dog?

The single question I’ve likely been asked the most since starting Embroker is what is the story behind our logo, the blue dog, Shotwell. Personally, I’ve always identified with street dogs, they lack any sense of entitlement, they epitomize grit and hustle. I’ve long known that if I ever started an organization, these were the types I wanted to be surrounded by.

Embroker mascot Shotwell

But the dog that inspired us to use Shotwell as our logo has his own story. Years ago, I was living in Cambodia and spent a weekend in the seaside town of Kep with my future wife. Kep is filled with street dogs, and on the whole, they are unloved, and occasionally get beaten or worse. However, there was one dog that stood out. He was clean, charming, well behaved, and well-fed. He had no owner (we asked), he had just learned how to adapt to a hostile environment.

Each day when we walked from the beach back to the grass of the resort, the dog would stay on the beach, he had learned he wasn’t allowed on the resort property and knew that he would be punished for not following the rules.

On the last night before we left, however, I saw the dog look down at the grass, look up at me, look down again, and then he made a decision, he decided to follow us to our room, willing to risk punishment for the sake of companionship. I was and am to this day inspired by this small act of bravery, by this awareness of when it is OK, even necessary to break the rules.

Why didn’t I adopt?

I’m often asked why I didn’t adopt this dog. The answer is that he was perfectly adapted to where he lived, he wasn’t in need of adoption. On the contrary, taking him back to a small apartment would be more punishment than kindness. I had my suspicion that he was thriving in his home two years later when the New York Times did a piece on visiting Kep and this same dog appeared on the cover of the travel section, an image that will be familiar to anyone that has seen the mural in our office in San Francisco.

Embroker inspiration for Shotwell

The Dog that Inspired Shotwell from The New York Times Travel Section March 2, 2012 “Open but Undeveloped”

Shotwell has since come to symbolize all of our collective efforts and the type of people we are. Just like I imagine the real Shotwell never changed after his moment in the limelight, so too despite any amount of success we achieve shall we remain a team of street dogs, humble and hungry, able to adapt and thrive, and unwavering in our dedication to a common cause. At Embroker we know business insurance is broken, and we are forging a new path to fix it.

Matt Miller
Founder & CEO