In my previous position, I was the the software-architect-cum-business-development-manager for a fantastic research group in the University of Cambridge, led by the inspirational Peter Murray-Rust. I led the technical side of a bunch of software development projects, and turned myself into enough of an expert in the field of research data management that we could attract funding for our research more often that not. In April this year I decided to chuck it in and join Me_tail, a start-up in a field I’ve no apparent experience in. Why?
I’d be lying if I said that fashion sets my world alight. I suppose I could be described as comparatively well dressed for a geek, in that I often wear a collar out of choice, and I’m fond of hats. No, what really floats my boat is building teams of developers, and working with them to solve hard problems, and solve them well. Technology transfer, in our case turning research outputs into service software is enormously good fun. The project planning is fiercely complex, even for a small, lean team like ours. Execution is difficult, requiring a wide range of skills, great performance and commitment. As I say, enormously good fun, which is evidence we’re on the right track; if it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing.
And what about the risk? Surely joining a start-up is folly in a recession? But there’s hardly an area of the public or private sectors that hasn’t been hit by funding cuts, lay-offs and cutbacks. I chose to put my faith in a solid business plan built on great technology. In the current climate the right start-up is the safe, fun option. If you’re thinking the same way and you’ve got the developer chops – join us.