We recently told you the story of one of our co-founders, Major General Ray L. Smith, and how his passion for the military community lead him to co-founding Sandboxx. Now, we are going to give you the story of our other co-founder and CEO, Sam Meek.
Name: Sgt. Sam Meek USMC (vet)
Branch of Service: Marine Corps
Years of Service: 5 years
Sandboxx Title: Co-founder and CEO
Appropriately and ironically enough, Sam Meek was born on Veteran’s Day into a family with a long lineage of Marines. Sam was a senior in high school when the devastating attacks on 9/11 occurred, and he immediately knew it was his time to carry on the family tradition and join the United States Marine Corps.
“I remember I was walking down the senior steps at Salisbury School when one of the history teachers came running towards me with this terrible look on his face. He told me the Twin Towers were just attacked.”
Instantly Sam thought of his father and grandmother who were in New York that day. Running inside the school he looked through a classroom door and saw the English Department Head and his crew coach, a decorated Navy SEAL, crying with his head in his hands. Watching the T.V. above him Sam saw the first tower ablaze and the second plane crashing into the other tower. It was at that moment that Sam knew he would follow the family yellow footprints.
“I knew that I wanted to join the Marine Corps, but thought I would do it after college. Seeing the attacks on the Trade Centers propelled me to advice my decision. It was truly a turning moment for me.”
The summer after he graduated high school, Sam enlisted and became a U.S. Marine and served as a Nuclear Biological Chemical Defense (NBCD) Specialist (now called CBRN). He spent his first years in service with the 2nd Marine Logistics Group (2nd FSSG) at Camp Lejeune, NC as a training instructor where he kept Marines proficient with their gas masks, chemical gear and tactical capability.
Sam then deployed to Taqqadum Iraq with Combat Logistics Regiment 25 as their NBC Chief. After returning home, he extended his enlistment for an opportunity to join 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion in Okinawa Japan. 3rd Recon was slated for deployment to Fallujah and Sam wanted an opportunity to work with world class operators. Sam took a leadership role with 3rd Recon’s S3 as the NBCD Chief and NCOIC of the Recon Tactical Command Center.
The Marine Corps sent Sam on two tours in Iraq, commonly called the “Sandbox” in the military community. After suffering from an injury during his second deployment he was honorably discharged as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps in 2007.
Although Sam grew up with a vast appreciation for those who served, it was through his time in the Marine Corps where he was able to gain a much deeper appreciation for his brothers in arms and all who have served.
“I think it’s fair to say a specific emotion exists for those who have served. Rooted in camaraderie, fear, and love, it is place where we can be comfortable and relate. It is a place where no words need to be spoken – a place where actions are the words,” described Sam.
Like many transitioning out of the military, Sam wasn’t sure of what his next steps were going to be. Via sheer luck, he landed a job on Wall Street where he worked his way through the ranks and would later became Vice President of Business Development for a hedge fund.
A driven entrepreneur, with a passion for developing technology and the rise of MySpace, sparked an idea to utilize social media and online presences to help keep service members and their families and friends connected. However, it wasn’t until he was introduced to Major General Ray L. Smith, who had been attempting to build ways to connect the military community from within the military, that Sandboxx was first born.
As the two worked together creating this military community concept, they realized they still lacked a name for their product. Sam recalled his two tours in Iraq, where camaraderie and love for your fellow service members is truly apparent, and was drawn to Iraq’s military nickname, “Sandbox”.
After some more brainstorming, Sam thought back to his childhood when he spent time on the playground, specifically in sandboxes, where he would meet and connect with other kids in his community. Taking an “x” from each sandbox, Sam came up with Sandboxx, a place for the military community to connect and thrive.
Just before the plans of Sandboxx were finalized, Sam heard that MotoMail, a service his family used to send him letters in Iraq, was being shut down. Sam and Ray went back to the drawing board where they created the Letters portion of the app, which is currently our most popular feature.
To date Sandboxx has sent over 1.5 million Letters to recruits in training and deployed service members across the world.
In many ways, our founders find that Sandboxx gives them a way to give back to the military community that has given them so much.
Celebrating Sandboxx’s 4th year this fall, Sam continues to pursue ways in which we can help assist in making our service members the most successful and mission ready that they can be.
“From training to deployment to transition, we are honored with this emotional state that holds us from one journey to the next. This is the framework we seek to weave Sandboxx, this is our raison d’être. Sandboxx is connectivity and the tools that help us accomplish the mission ahead. We built this company to digitally integrate ourselves into the fear, love and entire service journey, augmenting how our military community thrives every day.” – Sam Meek
Now that you know more about the story of Sandboxx read how we helped keep one family connected through a deployment and boot camp here.