I'm a very loyal person, and I fight hard to make things better wherever I'm at. I tend not to easily abandon things and go for "grass is greener." I fight a good fight, I stick to things when I believe in them.
I'm also passionate about making tech a better place to work. I've worked on some lovely teams, but also some very stressful teams. But more than that-- I think tech can be better, easily. I didn't want to leave something just because I found it stressful at that moment, with such a possibility. We just need to think about it, and put work into it.
So that's how Rich and I met. We both care passionately about the above and started discussing it almost daily.
For months, we were at different jobs. Trying to make a difference from the perspective of being within large companies.
And then my contract ended, and I found myself thinking on what was next. I had some savings, and thought it was time to actually try living the life I'd fantasized about out in the country.
As I've written about, I decided that wasn't actually ideal. I wanted to be surrounded by people in a city, within a community, working on things I loved.
I had more time to talk with friends, and a lot of my friends at the time were looking to move jobs, and I was happy to help them. As I poked around and asked what was available, I started to realize-- goodness, a lot of people need programming work done! I started taking notes.
What is possible?
What is ideal?
How can I help people the most?
Conversations with Rich started to turn in that direction.
After weeks of talking about these questions, we came to a conclusion: Why not work together, for ourselves? We do have extremely similar tech interests. Let's try to only work with people who are nice and treat others really well. Let's be totally independent-- only funded by contract work. Let's have more fun coding, make time for living life away from just working contracts. Let's try to live as close to an ideal life as we can. Let's see how possible this is.
I leveraged some of the conversations that I'd had to try to get friends jobs. But more than that, I just started talking with people more. I talked with lots of people. I reconnected with old friends, posted different things in online communities about a variety of topics, got myself more in tune with the community. I thought hard about how I was so fortunate to be in a position to consider this. I thought hard about how we could not only help ourselves, but others too.
We started as two independent contractors who just happened to always work together.
Most of our contracts weren't found by directly asking people if they had work (some were), but rather by looking to build relationships with people, helping other people out, and then we happened to get helped out in return. Kind of interesting.
We took on a junior coder to help us out, we hosted a free workshop for the community, we invested in a game project we cared about. We worked from home. We took lots of time off and didn't work all the time, made sure to charge enough to make that possible. And we have both been so happy. This is looking totally feasible. Now we're filing proper business paperwork. Still just the two of us.
Sometimes we can change things from the inside.
I'm happier than I've ever been.
It's a strange feeling. There's plenty of work right now, I don't see it running out. I'm not feeling unsafe. And I'm working on building more community and giving back more.
People need to look out for each other.
Our goals right now are to help improve tech culture, improve our community, help people see an alternative to working as a full time employee at a company, create a healthy and happy life for ourselves, and help support others in many ways while doing so.
I'm excited for the future.