A blog that needs work

Life at a Startup

I am not an entrepreneur.

That's not to say that I couldn't learn; entrepreneurs are a very special kind of person. There's nothing wrong with entrepreneurs, they just deal with a specific set of problems that I don't have too much interest in. I'm learning, of course, and there is value in what I'm learning, but it's very clear that I'm a developer: I like making things that people use.

If I'm not an entrepreneur, then why exactly am I at a startup?

Well, to answer that, let's talk a little bit about my day.

Well the first thing I do is come in to work, obviously. When? Who knows (actually, I come in pretty regularly). I could get in to work anywhere between eight and eleven. The founder has a lot more variance in when he shows up, but he's also up much later. One of our interns has a class on campus, so they tend to come in earlier to compensate. It doesn't much matter when folks get in though, because we don't really have a morning meeting. No standup or anything like that. Alright, so let's just check off flexible hours and few meetings on the list of things I like.

Right, so when I get in, there's probably a customer bug sitting in my inbox. No worries, I'll get to that when I can. There's also likely a few code branches that need to be merged and reviewed. Cool cool. I'll get to that first to make sure that the team is blocked. Once I've got that out of the way, I can take a look at the ol' issue tracker (which I've prioritized) and figure out what needs to get done. I can put the bug from the customer in the tracker and figure out where it belongs soon. Heck, if I have any ideas of my own I can toss them in there too, and if I have a moment I can make some cool new features. Looks like I just got an email about something urgent that needs to be fixed. Alright, I can tackle that first. Aside from a few little things, let's just check off the control over what I work on.

I start working on that urgent fix as quickly as I can, and I notice that some of the code is not all that pleasant. I take a look at the logs to see who wrote it, but it turns out that person isn't with us anymore. Alright, well, this piece of code is really getting in my way, so I take the time to refactor it. If I don't like something, I can change it, check. No ridiculous approval process, just focus on making things better. Sure, I'll submit my code for review later, but that's just fine, because there won't be a very long delay: I'll hear back from the team by tomorrow, tops.

As I wrap up my work, I get an email reminding me about new interns arriving in the fall. Looks like I'll need to review some resumes and do some screening. Lot of talented folks here, but in our case, 'there can be only one'... well, I've narrowed down the candidates at least. The founder mentions he'll be meeting with our investors, and keeps me in the loop about any people he saw that might be a good fit for our full time positions. Cool. I take off my HR hat and put on my developer hat as I continue to plug away. It's good to know that there's lots of different stuff I can work on, and that I always know what's going on.

The day passes by, and eventually it comes to that time of the day (or the week, in this case). Team Fortress 2 night! The team fires up their machines and prepares for the eternal battle between RED and BLU. We backstab and snipe, burn and gib the night away. As the evening starts to wrap up, the founder has something to announce: We're going to be moving to San Francisco for a bit. We're all a bit nervous, but it's an exciting opportunity, so we're going for it. There's always something exciting happening.

...So, that's an average day for me then.

So, I may not be an entrepreneur, but being at a startup is definitely where I ought to be. I don't think that I'd have the same awesome opportunities anywhere else!

Nicholas Terwoord

A self-titled software developer, "code archaeologist" (whatever that means), and professional geek. Spends too much of his time coming up with new projects, and not enough time working on them. Likes video games, board games, anime, manga, and Pathfinder / Dungeons and Dragons (GOTO: Line #1 - Geek).