Shutting down my software agency
2018 Update: Shortly after writing this article in 2017, I joined the team at Cisco Meraki. There, I am a Senior Software Engineer. I work on the mobile team, and am hoping to see it grow in the coming years.
Vektor Digital has been my passion project for the last four years. Along with my co-founder, Matt Holmboe, we launched Vektor Digital as a mobile app consultancy. Since Vektor’s launch day in 2013, we’ve built an amazing team, an outstanding portfolio of client work, and made life-long friendships.
In September 2017, we decided to end our journey under the Vektor Digital banner. Our goal is to explore new adventures with established product-focused tech companies. We want to learn how the best companies are run. For me, this means joining a tech company with a need for mobile engineering & product expertise.
Vektor Digital — Andrew Aarestad, me, Matt Holmboe and Josh Broton
Origin Story & First Project
Vektor Digital got its first cash infusion from a Reddit job board posting. On the heels of our failed startup, FixMyCity, I began looking for some consultant work to bring in some revenue. I reached out to my network, asking if anyone had projects. As a backup, I cruised a few job boards to see if anyone needed help. Interestingly enough, I saw a posting to build an iOS &Android app that helps police officers identify dangerous chemicals. I responded, and after a few sales meetings, I won us our first client — a $20,000 contract.
Matt led the iOS development on this project and I bounced back and forth between project manager and iOS developer. We outsourced the Android development and mobile app UI/UX design to a larger consultancy. The project required meaningful coordination between us, our vendor, and the client to deliver designs and a pair of apps. Overall, we had a blast and learned so much about the moving pieces of app design & development. I think that Matt & I found consulting to be a breath of fresh air after the long slog of FixMyCity.
My roles and responsibilities at Vektor
During Vektor’s tenure, I’ve been responsible for securing new clients, managing our design & development team, and delivering on-budget on-timeline software. I touch every aspect of the business, whether it be operations related (accounting, marketing) or production related (engineering, project management). My co-founder and I have similar skill sets, so we share many of these responsibilities. Division of roles occurs on the production side of projects — whoever wins a contract for Vektor is the “point” person, leading production efforts and keeping the client happy.
Highlights from my favorite projects:
- PinPoint Workforce — Location-Based eLearning Platform
- Sephora — Three iPad Apps, At Scale
- vidscrip — Social Network for Doctors & Patients From a production standpoint, I managed multi-discipline teams of 2 to 5 designers & engineers, taking clients from napkin notes to revenue. Our designers & engineers are all Minneapolis-based contractors, and often folks that were in our personal network before we began working with them.
Andrew, me, Matt, and Josh chat about a client’s roadmap for iOS, Web and Android.
A typical day for me in 2017 includes project planning, a handful of 1 on 1 meetings with Matt & our contractors, an engineering standup, a client meeting or two, and a 2–6 hour block of development. Some weeks, my individual contributor development has been 60% of my hours, and other weeks, it’s been as low as 20%.
Since Vektor’s launch, I’ve personally developed dozens of iOS and Android applications in Objective-C, Swift and Java as an individual contributor. This experience has given me intimate knowledge of agile software development, source control, unit testing, scalable architectures, and quality assurance. As of Fall 2017, I’ve deployed apps supporting iOS 5 through 11 and Android Nougat through Oreo.
Here’s a list that highlights my technical skills:
Reflecting on our team’s accomplishments
Over the last four years, Vektor has built over 25 iOS and Android applications for startups and corporate clients with budgets ranging between $3,000 and $280,000. This portfolio of technically challenging projects includes a proximity-based eLearning platform, a real-time concussion detection sensor for football players, two in-store tablet experiences for one of the world’s largest cosmetics retailers, and a social network for doctors and their patients. I’m immensely proud of what our team has produced.
We’ve built a diverse portfolio of iOS & Android apps. Of the projects in the image above, I was “Point” on vidscrip in 2016, and “Point” on PinPoint from 2016–2017.
In addition, we’ve become a regional name for Bluetooth technologies and a national name for iBeacon technologies. Over 50% of our past projects have some sort of Bluetooth feature. I contribute much of this Bluetooth success to to prolific blogging by Matt & I, my public speaking & Beacon Meetup Organizer role, and Andrew Aarestad’s skill set. As I mentioned earlier Andrew has been our contractor for over 2 years and is a Bluetooth wizard. He’s typically responsible for writing the Bluetooth stacks that make up our most complex projects. We likely wouldn’t have won so many technically challenging Bluetooth projects if we didn’t have him on the team. He’s a truly multi-talented engineer and someone that I’d like to continue working with later in my career.
Here are a few apps that I’ve built with Vektor Digital and our clients.
With Vektor’s last project work wrapping up in Fall of 2017, I’ve begun exploring positions at various San Francisco tech companies & startups. With my engineering management and cross-functional experience at Vektor, Engineering Manager and Senior iOS Engineer roles at larger tech companies feel like a natural fit. For startups with less than 30 employees, I think I’d work well in VP & Director of Mobile Engineering roles. And for startups with less than 15 employees, my co-founder skill-set could be leveraged in a CTO role. If you’d like to chat and get to know each other, please reach out.