Tag Archives: startup

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.

Back To Work

Since leaving for Techstars I think I’ve been in our Norwich office for the grand Total of 5 times, and two of those was for less than 10 minutes. What with 3 months working in London, over a month working from home, Christmas, Easter and Paternity leave I actually feel like I’ve been on sabbatical for 6 months. Which is odd really since a lot of that time I was working stupid hours – certainly more than if I’d just been coming into the office as normal.

There’s also been a strange juxtaposition. For 3 months I was living on top of everyone, working every hour possible and being involved in even the minutest decision. Then I had a month of working from home and being very isolated from everything (remote working is not something we’re good at yet). Then two weeks paternity leave where you just forget about work entirely.

I’ve created a huge brain dump of everything I need to catch up on (with the wonderfully vague ‘sort email’ hiding I don’t know how much work), but top of the list is picking everyone’s brains on just where we’re at. In an organisation as dynamic as a startup there is absolutely no point in diving in head first until you know what direction you’re swimming in.


It doesn’t seem to matter what role I do in IT, it’s going to involve a certain amount of crawling around on the floor messing about with cables. Even in non support roles in large organisations where there were teams hired purely to crawl around the floor and mess about with cables, I still found myself doing it. Not that I mind; the aforementioned teams never seemed to wire up my machine the way I wanted anyway1.

With my move to a company who’s size will double to two when I join (with 50% of the company outranking me) I fully expect more crawling about on the floor – and not just with cables. One of my first jobs is going to be putting together the new office furniture, something I’m actually looking forward to strangely. I’d say this is the perfect example of a startup teaching you new, and unexpected skill sets, but the furniture is coming from IKEA and I’m already a dab hand at building that stuff – after all, it’s basically wooden lego for adults.

1 A true Jedi does his own cabling and bests the cable monster one on one – either that or I suffer from OCD when it comes to… well, many things actually.

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.