When I started learning to program back in February 2012 in order to build Uncover, I simply wanted to be able to see my ideas through to a solid prototype that customers could use. Nothing else mattered. I’d watch tutorials, read books, practice exercises, deploy code, fail and repeat–until I collapsed on my keyboard. Every day I’d wake up with a strong sense of accomplishment.
But no matter how much progress I made, I still knew I’d need to find a talented technical co-founder to work with. I’ve been around the block enough times to know that a year of programming wouldn’t make me a CTO. But what I couldn’t have anticipated was that learning to program up to the level I’ve achieved would make finding a technical co-founder ten times easier. Sure, it’s sort of a kick in the face knowing that one day, with any product success, you’ll have to pass the lead to someone more capable than you. But again, the huge consolation is that it’s a lot easier to find someone once you’ve learned to code.
For me, with a prototype in September 2012 and happy customers already in place, that time had come.
Because I’ve asked Mike (my Uncover co-founder) to be candid about it, I can say without a doubt that we’d never have teamed up if I hadn’t spent 2012 learning to code. Mike and I had known each other for five years before we decided to work together. It wasn’t until I was months into learning to code, when he saw my dedication and saw that I’d successfully built a prototype, that he began to entertain the idea.
Even during the first few months of coding, I’d badger Mike about working together over frequent afternoon coffees, but he’d shrug off the idea. He wasn’t looking to be someone’s code monkey. He wanted to work with someone who understood programming, who could contribute, and who had proven that he really wanted to push himself ahead technically. The person Mike would be willing to work with had to build something first.
For Mike it was more than me being able to contribute code to our product. It was about the psychological connection we’d have. There’s a special bond that exists between developers. People who can build product look at what’s built in a different way. “You can code? Welcome to the club.”
Mike welcomed me. He then pushed me. He taught me. He made me a better developer than I could ever have been on my own. And ultimately he agreed to join Uncover as a co-founder because I had proven myself and managed to get into the club.