2019 is coming to an end, so it’s time to look back to the past year. At the beginning of 2019 I was working for Wisdomtree, the most exciting ETF provider I’ve heard of, and at the turn of the year I’m working at Wager, the most exciting betting startup I’ve heard of. I’m very lucky with the opportunities I have had during the last few years.
Some people could be wondering why I left my comfortable role as Director of Development at Wisdomtree to become CTO of Wager a company that had no product by the time I joined.
What I like more about working with technology is the impact a single person can have in the development of something. As the CTO of Wager any week I use many different hats.
Backend Engineer: This is my main background. I’ve been doing this role for my whole career with a number of different technologies including Python, Java and NodeJS. I really like this part of the job, that focus on translating business rules into business logic that then empower the frontend developers to create beautiful user experiences.
SRE/Platform engineer: Every piece of code needs a piece of infrastructure to run on. Nowadays, with the cloud, that means having a sort of platform and tools that allow the developers to deploy their code, and the users to use the system. In an early-stage startup, there’s no one else to have this work done, therefore I have to play with Terraform scripts and ansible playbooks, to ensure we have all this sorted.
Data Engineer: We learn and improve through measuring and running experiments. Thus we need to have fantastic tools that allow us to understand what the users are struggling with, what they are finding easy, where we should be working in other to improve their journeys. A good portion of this can be learnt by having the right data platform. Being able to come up with a hypothesis and then creating charts for them is a massive competitive advantage.
Frontend Engineer: Nobody wants to use APIs to create their bets, so we need a neat user interface that our users love to use. I’ve done my share of frontend in the past and I never felt like I knew what I was doing when it came to pure visuals. I feel more comfortable when we are integrating the visuals. Because we don’t have a big team, sometimes I need to work with CSS and keep my skills in shape.
Product Manager: Technology is just a medium to an end, not an end in itself. Therefore we need to figure out and realise which features need more work, or where we do have room for improvement. The resources are quite limited and we often need to prioritise and compromise. Being able to work with the business people to agree on the efforts that make sense to take at this stage is very important.
Of course, I’m not alone, and I don’t do all those jobs all the time, but I often need to help with all those topics. This is what I like the most of work in early-stage, you can learn tons of things that otherwise would imply a career switch. Learning all those skills helps you understand the bigger picture of what creating and running a business is like.
Going fast, deploying often and learning as quickly as possible is very interesting. Wager is mobile-based what means we can’t control when Apple and Google approve our releases, or when users install the updates, yet we are trying to have something new for the users every week. Sometimes small changes like user interface tweaks here and there, sometimes much bigger changes like Leagues, the ability to send bets to people that are not yet in Wager or a new onboarding flow. The most important thing is that with every new release or feature we learn and we improve, and we will keep doing so in 2020.