We are small, but incredibly effective. The 7 of us – 5 full time and 2 contractors. We are all focused together on one mission together: improving the state of (professional) education. We are all working together on Frontend Masters, where 50+ teachers share their experiences and knowledge with tens of thousands of software developers, making an impact on their careers and their life’s path.
We moved towards the top of one the the most beautiful buildings in downtown Minneapolis in RBC Plaza. We signed a 6 year lease. We moved downtown to open up our workshops to everyone in Minnesota (not just the south suburbs) and have an inspiring space for both teachers and students to learn and grow.
I had a team of 15-20+ contractors doing a variety of tasks. Everyone was great, but I realized that in order to go to the next level, I needed to find a few all-star people to take a holistic view of the company and make fundamental changes to the business every day. I needed to put 100% of my focus and money on building a team. Focusing daily on building the team and learning what makes a great team is where most of my brain cycles have gone this year. Very happy about the results so far — time well spent!
It feels magical to have all of us using the fresh parts of our day working together innovating and pushing the product forward. Everyone now is on vesting schedules owning part of the business and sharing in the vision of the company. I no longer have to repeat myself getting contractors onboard and the team is full of energy and excitement towards moving everything forward. We’ve been at this for over a year together now and doubled the revenue of the company putting us in a stable financial position to launch off of in 2018.
In the Early Days Our needs were seasonal – we recorded workshops only 3 months for the first few years and didn’t need ongoing help. Hiring contractors, even if they were expensive, cut costs and helped me retain equity over the first few years while I proved out the product. Over time though as the business was proven out, contractors became much more expensive to hire ongoing than having a tight, focused team working together day after day.
To start, you choose either:
Contractors just have to trust that you’ll pay your bills in order to work with you. Your job, in the early days, is to de-risk the business and prove that your product works in the market. You either have to give employees a lot of equity, or pay contractors a premium. I chose to work two contract jobs in order to afford to pay the contractors and retain equity in the business.
In 2016, the business really started to take shape. I was able to afford running workshops for most of the year. But there was this sinking feeling when I was paying top dollar for multiple years hiring a team of contractors but wasn’t seeing any big changes happening in the business to move us forward. Contractors were good, but also were happy to do “the same old thing” for years and get paid a premium without actually changing anything in the business underneath the hood. There were no fundamental shifts or innovations coming from a team of contractors, so I needed to transition to vested employees.
We hired a CTO who has replaced most of our old broken systems that were hacked together in the beginning of the company to figure out the core product. We have a really clean foundation now to build and innovate on top of. There is one main system left to replace, and once done will open up tons of new doors for us for innovating on the new system.
In 2015 my metabolism started to drop and I went in to measure my body composition. 28% body fat! Embarrassing to me since I was skinny all of my life. I tried running a lot but it didn’t seem to help. Eventually I got a trainer and started lifting weights twice per week. In less than 6-12 months I got down to 17% body fat and was able to deadlift 375lb and squat 285 multiple times. Pretty happy with that. Overall I’ve shed around 30 pounds of fat and put on like 40 pounds of muscle. Pretty dramatic change in body composition. All I’m doing is lifting weights twice per week for about 30-45 minutes, but it’s made all the difference in the world health-wise.
I got super fascinated with crypto currencies this year and started investing about mid-way through the year. It’s something I’ve been on the sidelines about for 5 years but decided to finally dive in head-first. I’m excited that you have a trust-system built on mathematics, and how that can change the fundamentals of how we exchange money and code applications.
In 2018 I’d like to:
Cheers and thank you all so much for the support and love! I really feel like a lot of people are cheering us on to continue to improve how we can better learn professional skills.