Friday, 23 April 2010

Second Wind

Sometime in 2006, Mike found Andy.  Someone who knew him told Mike he knew of this young, brilliant Java programmer who lived and breathed coding, even to the point of rigging a camper up with satellite and high tech equipment to be able to code "on the road".  He liked to head into the deep backwoods of British Columbia in his camper for weeks at a time.

Mike met him and told him what he wanted to build with Qtility.  Andy got it right away and told him he had already been working on a big platform himself, as a hobby, that would tie in and save a ton of time if he built Qtility on top of it.  Andy is someone who is not motivated by money or profit.  With his skills he could have been working at any number of big software companies for a high salary.  What he wanted more was the freedom to work where and when he wanted and to continue to build on his own stuff.  They agreed that we would give Andy a monthly salary, and he could do exactly those things.  We would also give him stock options.

And so, they went to work.  They would meet once a week or so at a pub, and over beer and food they talked code.  For three years.  We found a couple of small investors who contributed some money, but mostly, Andy's salary came out of Mike's consulting revenue.  After the first year, our accountant told us he could help us to apply for a federal Research and Development grant that would cover a lot of Andy's salary if it was approved.  It was, so every spring for the last 3 years we have received a nice boost to the coffers to reimburse us for paying Andy.

Mike continued to talk it up wherever he could, and gave a few investor presentations.  As before, few people understood it.  Mike worked and worked on the presentation to make it simpler.  He produced market studies and comparables, industry reports proving the size of the market he was addressing.  As before, he received positive feedback, but no takers.  After the tech bubble, angel investors were leery of software.  Bigger Venture Capital firms told Mike he was "too early" for them.  Still, they encouraged him to continue on.  Eventually, the software was to a point of being useful in Mike's consulting and he used it as a tool himself in a couple of large projects for oil companies who were migrating and integrating systems.  This was great also in that it gave Andy and Mike an opportunity to find bugs and improve it.  He didn't charge for it, he just used it to be able to do extraordinary work and gain a great reputation in his field.  He saved time and money for his clients.

In 2009, he had another brilliant idea.  Can't say if he was on the john this time, but I expect he was.

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