First Startup

Having taken a long break from blogging, it was time to continue my startup story since my last post from 2 years ago.


In my previous post, I talked about wanting to start something new. My job at the university started to lose the appeal it once had. I received an email one day from the program director to all computer science students (I was still a student at the time) regarding a job opportunity for a local startup. It turns out one of the co-op students working there passed on the message that the company was looking to hire a full-time developer.

“Here is my chance!” I thought. So I decided to reach out to the company and voice my interest in the position. A few coffee meetings and interviews later I had the position and was starting in January of 2012. Responding to that email is where I got on to what I now call the startup roller coaster.

The basic premise of the startup was to offer social media integration into your existing web application with a few lines of JavaScript. Think of an email marketing service wanting to add social media publishing capabilities without all the hassle of developing for the Facebook API, Twitter API, etc. They can focus on email, and we would give them scheduled social posting capabilities they could offer to their end users.

First Week

My first week was great! It seemed like any other development job I had so far. Working with the technical lead implementing features, squashing bugs. Then Friday hit, and the roller coaster crested the first drop and plunged downward. The lead developer decided to leave for a position with more stability and less risk.

There was another full-time developer hire that was made almost at the same time as me. The other developer was working on front end widgets and integration tools for customers. I had started working on the backend and core code. So I was most familiar with the deployment procedures.

Aside: I actually started just after the other developer, because I was out on a ski trip. There is some importance to this ski trip. So keep it in mind when reading future blog posts about my last 2 years.

I was therefore, by default, going to become the lead developer. It's not every first week at a new job you hear: “Marc, you essentially have 2 weeks to get familiar with the entire codebase and deployment procedures.”

First Few Months

So I spent the next 2 weeks reading all the code, asking as many questions as possible and trying to learn as much as I could about all the tools/frameworks we were using.

The first deployment with me at the helm was far from perfect. Both the CEO and I were side by side on my laptop with my notes on another screen. We took down the server... Not the greatest first attempt at deploying code without the former technical lead. A quick phone call and few suggestions later, we had the server up with the latest code.

After the initial few weeks of bumpiness trying to learn everything and getting better at not having downtime with code deployments, the next few months were spent powering through code sprints and pushing out new features. Little did I know a new adventure was about to begin in March of that year.