Tuesday 9 May 2023

Full-time fun - why join an early stage startup

9 days into May, and I feel like I have a bit of an "announcement" to share that has been a few months in the making.

End of last year, I came to the end of a long (10,5 years!) and rewarding journey at Neo4j. I had put my heart and soul into that project, and was at the same time sad and thankful for the goodbyes that I had to say. Lars Nordwall and Emil Eifrem will forever be in my heart, as will be so many other wonderful graphistas that I got to know and love.

At the end of a journey like that, you would think that you want want to take it easy, or take your time, or do nothing for a while. And in some ways I did. But in other ways, I just did not want too much idle time. Having some time to reflect would be good. Having too much time to reflect would have someone like me go pretty crazy, pretty fast.

So when Pascal Desmarets and I had a wonderful lunch sometime in January, I decided pretty quickly that I was not going to let the opportunity pass, and that I would want to do some part time work for Hackolade. It seemed like a great idea - and now, 3+ months later, I feel like it really was. Earlier this month, on May 1st, I joined the Hackolade team as full time member - and I could not be more stoked about that. Let me tell you why I feel that way.

Startups are my thing

For the past few decades, I have been helping small companies grow into bigger companies. First under the wings of other mentors, but over the years, I think I have gotten the hang of this, and it really has become my second nature. So what is it that I love about this thing? There's clearly different reasons.

There's clearly a number of positives. I love the challenge. I love the feeling of working hard and building something. I love the cameraderie and collaboration of working to a common goal. I love seeing the results of building something out of nothing - at a personal, business and industry level. And if it all works out, the financials can be attractive too - true enough.

But there's also a number of less positive sides that have a strange attraction to me. I know for sure that building Hackolade is going be hard. There's going to be days where I am going to be disappointed, challenged, feeling like I am fighting windmills, tired of the uphill battle, craving for some tailwind. I know that it will be tough - but in a way that is actually attractive to me. Why do something that is easy and comfortable? Why would that be attractive? Working on a hard problem/project, actually makes the project interesting and rewarding, in and by itself. I love the challenge.

Hackolade is interesting - in so many ways

So ok, now you know why I like startups, and why I could not see myself join a big blue or red corporate structure. But then - why join Hackolade? Why this particular startup? Well - I have actually thought about that too. Here's a couple of things that I feel are really .

  1. The data modeling market is interesting. It's at the junction of business and IT. It brings these two domains, that have such a deep and eternal divide between them, closer together. I love that. Making tech relevant and material to business has always been in my sphere of interest - ever since my uni days.
  2. The data modeling market - and its adjoining agile software development and data governance markets - have lots of potential. I feel like there's a pendulum swinging here. There used to be a time when data modeling was hot and sexy. And we are probably coming out of an era when the NOSQL gurus were discounting the importance of data models. But we are in the middle of finding a new equilibrium: too much data modeling is bad. Too little data modeling is bad too. There's a balance to be had - and there's an opportunity in that new balance. Hackolade is trying to seize that opportunity.
  3. The Hackolade Studio product is rock solid, and full of interesting and innovative ways of doing things. I love that, and so the customers! And in today's day and age, only great products will survive. After having working with the product for a few months now, I am super confident about the capabilities and potential of the software that the team has built - and it is only going to get better.
  4. The Hackolade team has been nothing short of amazing. Every software product has issues from time to time - and how you deal with these issues that sets a team apart. I have seen that first hand at Hackolade in the past few months, and it will be a joy to see it again in the future.

Of course, startups can go wrong. I can come up will a million reasons why I should not do something - but that would be a recipe for paralysis.

To say it with a cycling analogy: if I would not ride my bike unless I was 200% sure that I would not get wet or get a puncture - I would never go out riding. Imagine all the adventures I would have missed then!!! I would not want to miss those for the world - even if that means that once in a while, I will have to deal with the rain and replace a tyre once in a while.

So here's to that spirit of adventure, and to all the fun that can be had along the way. I am looking forward to the journey - to the many challenges that we will face, and the countless successes that we will book!

All the best


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