This is my first attempt at blogging about life as a starting entrepreneur. This is a story about how I decided to start my own company and a bit of a rambling about how things went unexpectedly wrong at the company I was working for.
I started out as a graphic designer doing mostly print/branding for a company that I started with a friend, right after we finished school. At the time, around the internet bubble, there was an increasing demand for websites, so we got into programming for the web. After four years we decided to explore more of the world. I started freelancing as a programmer and my friend started working for a other company.
After a year I was offered a job as a software developer for a company that made government software and did bigger websites for Dutch television and magazines. It was a fun and challenging job, we had a great team and I learned a lot. After a couple of years, we focussed on an in-house software product that handled sensitive data for a number of cities in the Netherlands.
At some point I found a discomfort in the way we worked, we always said that it was a “complex product” like we were proud of it and that, programmers that were new, needed at least a half a year to get started. We ended up in OO madness with manager classes for manager classes, deprecated frameworks in new frameworks, hacky workarounds because we were limited by those frameworks and the list goes on.
I started looking into different solutions. Until I stumbled upon a blog post about Haskell and functional programming. Something clicked for me that day. I saw a way to create reliable and sustainable software in a way that somehow felt right. I could put my love for mathematics to good use and write actual proof about the internals of programs. It felt like I had superpowers.
I studied functional programming and Haskell in my spare time for a couple of years and did a couple of small projects. (I’m still studying it and learn new things every day). Unfortunately, it was difficult to convince colleagues and especially the upper management, that wasn’t technical at all.
I had a good click with one of the founders. We could talk for hours about how to solve different problems. We created roadmaps, demo’s and proposals but the other team members weren’t susceptible to change. So we decided to set up a small side project to actually build one of our ideas about business intelligence. We discussed it with the management, they agreed and even attracted a possible investor for us. We talked to a lot of people about our plans and got a lot of useful feedback. We worked on the project in our spare time but we never got the change to kick start things.
It was a financially difficult period for the company. We had 3 captains on the ship. 2 founders and CCO that handled sales. One of the founders was bought out by an outside investor that was an acquaintance of the CCO. The other, the good friend I mentioned earlier, was let out of some decisions and eventually quit himself.
In a matter of days, the company had two new captains. The two had no technical background whatsoever and were harsher than the previous management. The mentality changed to creating whatever made money, without thinking about the consequences of support for the long term. The company was rendered technically visionless.
It was a stressful period, a lot of things happened in that half year. Some colleagues quit their job because of the changing dynamics and I was thinking about it too. I decided to work fewer days and, in my free time, to actively continue the project that I started with my colleague some time ago. This time more seriously and with a few more people. I’ll write more relating to the startup shortly to explain what it is we’re trying to accomplish.