If you’ve ever had a frustrating experience with trying to make a good website for your professional needs, UCI alumnus Jeff Fulkerson ’07 is here to save the day. Fulkerson is the founder of FroBro Web Technologies, an agency that helps business owners succeed by building websites that are attractive, easy to navigate and SEO optimized.
Fulkerson’s experience with building websites began when he was in high school exploring technology and building computers. When it was time to start applying for college, he knew computer science was the right major for him.
“I would look at the computer science programs at the different schools, and UC Irvine was, at the time, the only UC that had a school of computer science instead of just a department of computer science under engineering,” Fulkerson said. “They had a lot more invested and I knew I was going to get a good computer science education there, and I loved it.”
Fulkerson majored in information and computer science at UCI. He furthered his knowledge and skills in technology while also participating in the Campuswide Honors Program (CHP) and various extracurricular activities, from singing the national anthem to working as a resident assistant at Mesa Court Housing.
“I tried to make the most of my time at UCI, and for me, that meant trying as many things as I could,” Fulkerson said. “At the ARC [Anteater Recreation Center], for example, they had a lot of different classes. I took a break dancing class, massage class, karate. I took a fencing class and ended up joining the fencing team.”
Another one of the highlights of his time at UCI was being the first student in the UCI Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science (ICS) to be crowned Homecoming King in 2007. Fulkerson married Emily Yee (B.S. ’07, biological sciences), who was crowned Homecoming Queen alongside him.
“The ICS department was so excited that I was running. ICS controls a bunch of computer labs, so they changed the desktop backgrounds of every computer to say ‘Vote for Jeff,’” he said.
After graduating from UCI in 2007, Fulkerson took on a number of different jobs; his first role was working as a game developer at a company called Javaground. After Javaground, Fulkerson returned to UCI as an adviser in the CHP program.
He later shifted back into working in technology at a number of different businesses and eventually joined a startup (created by his former colleagues from a previous company he worked at) called Badu Networks as a software developer in 2013. At Badu Networks, Fulkerson has done a little bit of everything, including writing code, creating training programs, going on-site for installations and more. He still works there today.
“I was the second full-time employee at Badu,” Fulkerson said. “I’m the director of technical services, which in that role, sometimes I’m interfacing between sales and engineering but I’m also interfacing with the customer, helping them get the most out of our product.”
Fulkerson founded his agency, FroBro Web Technologies, in 2016. Before that, he had already been helping friends and family build websites. The name “FroBro” comes directly from his time at UCI.
“I’ve had the ‘Fro’ pretty much all my time at UC Irvine. My nickname was Jeffro… that probably helped me with my homecoming campaign as well,” he said. “The tagline was ‘go with the fro’ … it’s what made me stand out on campus, and that’s also the idea for FroBro Web Technologies.”
Fulkerson’s goal is to help his clients create a good first impression on their customers with a professional website, whether it be by improving their SEO or webpage design, just as how his hairstyle helped him stand out at UCI.
“[A good website] helps people notice you and see that you’re different, so that’s what I want to do when I’m helping other customers build their websites — make them stand out, make them unique in a way that their prospects will see them like ‘oh yeah, I want to work with that company,’” Fulkerson said.
He noted that one benefit of having his own company is the flexibility that allows him to take care of his children; outside of work, Fulkerson enjoys spending time with his wife, three young sons and friends.
“A lot of my long-term friends are from UCI,” Fulkerson said. “They’re the people I met with, I roomed with, was in in the Honors Program with, and those are people that I’m still friends with now and trust to watch my kids.”
It’s clear how UCI has influenced Fulkerson’s personal life, but he also says it’s profoundly shaped his professional life. The underlying fundamentals of computer science he learned at UCI made it possible for him to work in technology and be where he is now with his career.
He encourages ICS students to take charge of their education. It may be difficult to know what to do with your degree, so Fulkerson suggests exploring different skills to find what you like to do, and building a portfolio of projects that showcases what you have learned inside and outside of the classroom.
“When I was interviewing people, there’s a big difference between when someone says, ‘I hang out or go party’ versus ‘I made this cool app where you can do such and such.’ You can tell they have the passion for programming and technology and know that they’re going to be a better fit,” Fulkerson said. “If you really want to program and you love it, then do it, embrace that, go for it.”
— Karen Phan