August 01, 2015
So one of my goals with my new setup on this site is to blog about the process of building my own business.
I’ve been building websites in one way or another since January of 1997. That’s a long time.
During that time, it wasn’t more than small freelancing gigs, and running a few rando websites while I worked a “real job” to pay bills. I did try a couple times to do this as a full time job but I was young and didn’t really care about much. I always thought “hey, if I don’t make any money, then I’ll just move back home.”
This fastfoward is kind of a big jump. The setting is October 2013, I am doing contract work for a company to barely pay what little bills I had working from my parents. A buddy in IRC that I helped a few times with coding issues and recommendations hits me up about joining his dev team for his startup he’s making. I like it, I agree and he tells me when time gets closer we’ll talk more.
January 27th, 2014 - I sit down at my computer and see a message on IRC. I go to read it and it’s my buddy, he wants to talk over Skype or something. So I agree and we get on Skype. It’s me, him (CTO), CEO and COO of a small “stealthy” startup in Chicago, we talk and they ask me to come to Chicago to meet. Of course I am open to this and say yes.
So here I am, mid-day at the end of January and I am driving 4 hours away in what looks like a blizzard on it’s way. I didn’t care, I was on a mission.
Finally I reach my destination in Chicago, on West Chicago Ave, just outside of the beautiful skyscrapers of the city in the River North section of town. I walk into the office, greeted by anticipation.
From that moment on, for literally a full week, I bounced around between CTO’s parent’s house, and CEO’s beautiful 7th story apartment in the Grand Ohio building as places to sleep, which weren’t really long stretches. We spent that whole time hacking away.
You see, when I got there, I was introduced to the codebase of a startup where the sole developer learned how to program while building the app. I’ll tell you what, he did a great job despite my pickiness on how code should be structed. He literally learned everything he knew up to that point as he was going.
After that week of hacking, CEO asked me what I thought and if I was interested in joining the team. The company was 100% bootstrapped so funds were low. We discussed that and I understood. The next day, as I’m sitting next to the CTO hacking away, teaching him and bringing the small team up to speed on better practices, the CEO walks in, throws a set of keys at me and said he has an apartment in his building for me.
I sat there for a moment.. I was flabergasted at how fast this was moving and what the reality was to come.
I accepted. I joined the company as the lead and first software engineer.
I’ll leave Part 1 there and I’ll talk more in Part 2 about what I learned at the company and how I am applying it to my own business.