Mark Kirby - mobile, cloud, voice and IoT

2008 personal review part 1, or how to quit your job and start a new life

I started 2008 working for a small charity in Horsham, a job I was beginning to tire of, and ended it working in my dream job, freelancing for a number of small local companies on the way. This article lists my motivations, achievements and high points of working life during 2008. Next week I’ll go through my side projects, and then plans for the year ahead. If you have a blog, why not do the same - its a great way of seeing where you are, what you achieved and a chance to thank a few people who helped you.

Kickstarting the year in an Enterprising way (Jan - March)

At the start of this year I was kindly invited by Jon Markwell of Inuda Innovations and now local co-working venture The Skiff to attend a fantastic course - Enterprisers. This week long course organised by Cambridge and MIT taught me and around 60 others the basics of running a business, in a more inspriring than practical way.

During Enterprisers we were asked to think about our aims for the year. I realised that at some point this year I would need to leave my current job in order to progress, and that I wanted to work with a driven and succesful small local company where I would be more than ‘just a programmer’.

In order to meet these people I immediately began attending local networking events, with The Farm being by far the most useful - a weekly event for freelancers where the focus is on conversation. I met some great people, all of whom were busy with plenty of freelance work…

Quitting work and moving into the Brighton scene (April - July)

Inspired by a talk at the £5 app event by Madgex director Glenn Jones, and a poke in the ribs by Kevin Edwards and Jon Markwell, I realised risks could pay off, and I needed to make good on my promises in January. So in late March I handed in my notice at AVERT, the AIDS website and charity where I was working as lead technology guy. It was great to work there, but there were limits to what I could achieve, with most of my software used by only a small number of internal customers.

I immediately took up freelancing, and started to work from The Werks. The Werks is a fantastic co-working space in Hove where people can meet, strike up relationships and work together on projects. Thanks to this space and other connections I was able to work with a range of people and small companies over a short but intense period over the summer. Companies I worked with included Callender Creates, music software firm Charanga and Zero G Media. The work involved a number of WordPress themes, combining CSS, HTML, PHP and Javascript.

This was a hugely exciting period, I earned more money than ever before, but never knew where the next job would come from. I built a number of relationships which would have led to more work, and by the end of July I’m sure I could have continued freelancing for much longer. Something else cropped up though…

Finding the perfect job at Ribot (July - 2009)

I’d been speaking on and off with a friend, Antony Ribot, who had set up his own business a year ago about working with them for a while, and in July was offered a 3 month contract. [Ribot][11] were exactly what I had been looking for - a small mobile design company, working in a new and exciting field, with lots of potential for expansion. It didn’t take long to decide to accept.

Over the 6 months (I ended up staying for good) I managed to squeeze in the following, all in the new field of mobile:

  • Learned C# and worked with .Net for the first time on a major project for the large tech company
  • Experimented with iPhone dev and attended the London iPhone Tech Talk
  • Rebuilt the Ribot site, setting up a WordPress backend and releasing 2 open source WordPress plugins
  • Worked on a Ruby iPhone app front end integration
  • Setting up and working with an internal Wiki

Its been a fantastic experience and I’m looking forward to the next year with Ribot!

Somehow I also found time this year to work on side projects - more about those next week.

[11]: http://ribot.co.uk/

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