By Najaf Ali
I founded Happy Bear Software in 2012 and it has operated continuously as a development consultancy until now. Our final day of business will be September 28th 2018.
We’ve operated for almost seven years and in that time I’ve had the opportunity work with some of the best developers. Together we’ve worked on a huge number of client projects, everything from two-week prototypes to major feature development for branches of government. We grew from just me as a contractor to a team of eight developers and almost half a million pounds of revenue per year.
There are many reasons for me ending the company, but the central one is a lack of consistent work. When I started the business I was an OK developer, but I was terrible at marketing, sales, finance, and everything else required to run a successful agency.
My inability to create a system for consistently getting us work lead us to a precarious financial situation, and I took the decision to stop operating the business while we still had funds to pay everyone for their notice periods (and make sure they weren't looking for jobs over the year-end).
My primary concern as the founder of the company right now is to ensure that everyone on the team secures employment (be that contract or permanent) as soon as possible. They have all been given the option to cease employment with us before the end of their notice period.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that everyone on the team is fucking magnificent. They are all technically competent, excellent communicators, and diligent, hard-working professionals. Any one of them would be an enormous asset to any team smart enough to hire them. Two or more would have a serious impact on the culture of your development team.
Our most recent apprentice is Etienne Mustow, based in Brighton (but considering moving to London). Etienne is a skilled programmer with a broad range of technical skills. We threw him into the deep end with a series of hard technical problems, and he had no problems getting stuck in and delivering high-quality software. He has a strong work ethic and is going to go on to do amazing things at whichever software engineering team has the good judgement to hire him next.
Our other apprentice is Hannah Dwan, based in London, UK. She recently gave a talk at Brighton Ruby. Hannah is a highly intelligent, communicative, fast-learning developer. She has repeatedly demonstrated her ability to learn highly complex problem domains in less time that it would take some developers with ten times her experience. She will be a tremendous asset to any team she finds herself on.
Esther Olatunde (Lagos, Nigeria) was the wall to our backs whenever we were faced with bewildering, difficult-to-analyse bugs. She is an accomplished developer with a strong understanding of OS fundamentals, database internals, Ruby internals, and more generally, the hard technical details of whatever she ends up working with. She is approachable, forthcoming, forward-thinking, and able to manage a backlog in such a way that delivers maximum value for any team she’s working on. She is also a co-founder and CTO of a Y-Combinator backed startup.
Dorothy Wingrove (Brighton, UK) is a skilled developer with experience and knowledge in a large number of hard technical problem domains, including pure mathematics and machine learning. While working at Happy Bear she consistently delivered exemplary software on every project we put her on, in both front-end and back-end contexts. She is also an established conference speaker with brilliant communication skills. She will raise the game of everyone on your team.
Kaitlyn Tierney (London, UK) started at Happy Bear Software as an apprentice and was promoted to senior developer after showing time and again that she could deliver high-value software for our clients. She wrote well-tested, performant, elegant code. She lead project management efforts and helped clients refine requirements until they were ready to start implementing. She also made a series of internal process improvements and took an active role in mentoring all new apprentice developers we hired. If you’re serious about growing a professional software engineering team then you want Kaitlyn on it.
Kriszta Matyi (Vancouver, Canada) started at Happy Bear Software as an experienced front-end developer, but within a few months was building features on complex applications split over multiple web services with no user-facing interface. She quickly got up to speed with any client project we put her on and was monstrously productive from then onwards. She is able to drill down and ask the right questions to go from vague requirements to building the thing your users need. Any team she works on would be extremely lucky to have her.
If you're interested in speaking to one or more of the people on the team (or know someone who might be), then please email me at [email protected] and I'd be happy to make an introduction.
All the best,