Tag Archives: RainBird

The communal food and drink area

Deja Vu

Almost exactly a year ago I was stood on the platform at Roughton Road station, my life packed into bags, ready to embark on one of the biggest adventures of my life. It’s hard to believe a year has passed, the time has just flown by. That year has seen Rainbird more than double in size, gain traction, and move to swanky new offices. It’s also seen us accepted onto the MasterCard Start Path program, which is why I’m once again sat on a bed that isn’t mine, away from my family.

The Start Path programme is 6 months long, but it’s a very different beast to Techstars. For starters, only a couple of weeks is spent away from home, kicking off with an Immersion Week in Berlin. Secondly, I don’t think the mental working hours will apply. And thirdly, daily blogging isn’t going to happen (although maybe for the days when I’m away from home).

Despite being run by a big corporate like MasterCard the programme has a startup feel to it, right down to the space we’re using. Today has mostly been introductions, both to MasterCard and the Start Path programme, and to each other as we’re one of 7 startups in this cohort. Tomorrow I get to learn all about payments. In the mean time I actually need to get some work done, something that could be fun given the poor mobile signal and flaky hotel WiFi.

Our offices for the next week

Since arriving in Germany I’ve learned that you need to validate your train tickets (Ben and I got told off for not doing that by the conductor on the train from the airport), that hotels here don’t believe in proper pillows (may require some improvisation), and that pedestrian crossings don’t quite work like they do in the UK (turning traffic seems to still drive at you, and you just have to take it on faith they’re going to yield for you). Oh, and German gummy bears (and gummy sweets in general) are just awesome.

Despite the not-so-mental working hours I seriously doubt we’ll get to see much of the city. It’s autumn, so it’s going to be dark when we leave each evening, and it’s only a short walk from the hotel to the venue with not a huge amount to see en-route, or to explore in the surrounding area. That said, we did get to see a few sights on the train this morning when we weren’t being told off for accidentally fare dodging.

10 weeks in

So we’re now… 10 weeks1(?) since I started at Rainbird which, in theory, has given time for the shine to wear off and the mundane to kick off – except it hasn’t. There are a few very good reasons for this.

Almost every day is exciting

A bad day for me these days is orders of magnitude better than a good day in some of my previous roles. “Bad” days generally happen because I’ve not completed something I wanted to complete, or I’ve made a mistake; they’re going to happen, no matter how good the job is. I hold myself to incredibly high standards and not having a bad day now and then would mean I’m not pushing myself hard enough.

It’s not a job…

I’m not there for the pay. I’m there for the challenge and the chance to create something seriously cool. I do the hours I do (including weekends and evenings) not because I have to, but because I want to.

…for anyone

We’re not carrying anyone. Everyone is there because they want to be there. It’s not just a job for them either. If something needs doing, it gets done by the first person who is able to do it.

It’s open

There are no political games, no power plays or empire building. Everyone knows what’s going on, warts and all, and everyone gets their say. It’s not a democracy (and nor would I want it to be, I haven’t got the first clue about some aspects of running a startup), but it is a benevolent dictatorship2 and that works really well.

It benefits me

My hard work has a direct effect on my rewards. I’m not working hard to allow someone else to benefit, I’m working hard for our benefit which is a huge incentive. Every day I can see progress towards our common goal and, while there are setbacks, there is an overarching feeling of moving forward.

Work, for me, is still something I am finding hugely fun, and massively rewarding.


1 I think that’s right, but it seems an awfully long time. That said, time does bizarre things at Rainbird and the days do seem to be flying by. Time flies when you’re having fun 🙂

2 Someone has to call the shots, and doing that by majority rule isn’t always the best way, especially when you’re dealing with areas of specialist knowledge where only one person may have the necessary experience

The Joy Of Development

It would appear someone has stolen my week. It’s Thursday afternoon already and I left the office wishing I could stay for another hour or two as I was on a roll and wanted to finish what I was working on. While I do have the ability to work on the train it’s offline for most of the journey, and interjects a 30 minute delay which is enough to derail any train of thought. Instead I need to wait until I get home to finish off.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been caught up in The Joy of Development at work. Too long in fact. I’d almost forgotten how much fun it is to take a complex problem and provide an elegant solution. I’d also forgotten how much of an arse it is to get OSX to play nicely as a web server – something the Apple make even harder when you’ve got OSX server running on the box. Still judicious amounts of Googling and sudoing have fixed that issue so shortly we shall have beautiful reports and pretty graphs coming from our CI builds which we can proudly display in the office on our dashboard screens.

Next job is to take the rather meta PostIt note from the whiteboard1 saying “build Kanban board” and turn it from a makeshift board with a few things stuck on it into a work of functional art. Then we can take the newly purchased PostIt notes, write down everything that needs to be done between now and the 21st2, panic at the size of the backlog and then wish we hadn’t visualised it.

All of which is a nice segue-way into a weekend of learning about continuous delivery into the cloud and blue/green deployments; although I could quite happily handle several more working days in this week before the weekend. I’ve missed enjoying work.


1 Actually, there’s two of them, and this one is on the left, so technically it’s the wheftboard, not the whiteboard… anyone? … no? … One is on the wheft, one is on the white? … really? No-one? Fine, forget it.

2 Release date for our open beta; sign up if you haven’t, it’s rather cool stuff. Also the date of my next talk, which I really need to get finished.

So I Joined A Startup

So I joined a startup… or at least I’m going to shortly. In some respects it’s a bit of an odd move for me as I’m usually the one who opts for the “safe” option, but once you look at the decision in more detail it’s easy to see why it’s a no brainer for me.

The first worry for anyone moving to a startup is “is my job safe?”. But then define safe. We’ve just been through a recession that kicked off by bringing down Lehman’s, who were supposedly “too big to fail”. What I do know is that there’s money for the next year and even if it all goes tits up the experience gained in that year is going to be invaluable.

What about the hours? Well.. what about them? I spend most of my spare time playing with new technology anyway, why not invest that time into something useful, which could ultimately help the company, and therefore me.

And then there’s always the product. To be fair this is what has stopped me going to a startup in the past; I’ve never really believed in the product. My reaction has always been one of “OK, so that’s kind of cool… if it gets traction let me know and, if you’re still looking for people, we can talk”. With RainBird I think the product has the potential to be absolutely awesome. The fairly limited technical beta is already seriously cool.

So yes, it’s a risk, and yes it may flop, but hopefully I’m about to embark on something amazing, with some seriously talented people, doing a job that I can enthuse about at length. Watch, as they say, this space.