Joining a start-up as their first employee.
My first 6 months at Bobsled.
7 min read
So, the adventure I recently joined, or as we call it over at Bobsled, joining the sled.
I joined Bobsled as their first employee, in this article I want to talk about the first 6 months over there, from March to September.
How I felt, the challenges I encountered and why I joined. 😃
What is Bobsled?
Bobsled is an early-stage start-up where we're building the fastest way to share data to any cloud or platform. 🎊
Sharing data in the cloud can be manual, expensive, slow, and fragile. Bobsled removes the friction from sharing data in the cloud, enabling data teams to focus on value-added work.
Bobsled will revolutionize the world by letting companies exchange data faster, leading them to make decisions faster and ultimately making more money and better decisions.
Read more here: bobsled.co. 🚀
How did I join?
Andy, our CTO at Bobsled, contacted me via email, telling me about this exciting opportunity. We continued chatting over the details on Discord. 🤩
After hearing that all criteria I'm looking for were met, I got excited about the opportunity, as well as the chance to be the first employee of a possible unicorn.
Criteria I was looking for before joining any company:
- Company (is it something I want to represent)
- Work (technologies and what I'll do)
- Team (team members and how we work)
- Project (is it something I believe in and will wake up every day with excitement to work on it)
- Career (how can I grow here)
I had 3 interviews in Bobsled, the interview process went quite smooth and fast.
Bobsled gifted me an Oculus Quest 2 after our first interview. It was my first time experiencing VR, and it was a hell of an adventure. 🪄
I and Andy would play VR while I was still interviewing at Bobsled quite frequently. Among the games we'd play were Rec Room and Population One. Population One honestly got me really addicted, I loved that game and even played it competitively, it was super fun while it lasted.
We'd also play VR with the other founders from time to time, but not that often compared to the amount me and Andy used to play.
I think this is one of Bobsled's unique things, gifting you a VR headset as an appreciation for your time, but also as a way to socialize with you throughout the process, I think it is super smart & fun!
From time to time at work we do play VR together for those who are interested, it is a different experience and quite funny how you can see others moving and talking to them.
Making the decision
There were many other exciting companies in the pipeline that I was interviewing with and offers I had gotten that also met all criteria, but in the end, I chose Bobsled.
Joining an early-stage start-up like Bobsled and being the very first employee is quite a risky decision, there are many things that can go south, leading to you needing to hunt for a job again. Though I will say, I was in a position where if things went south and I would be in need to find a new job again, I had companies waiting, hence I wasn't worried about having to hunt for a job again.
I'm also a big believer in high risk equals high reward, and life is too short to be worrying all the time, hence I just dove in. If things go south, I don't lose anything, if things go right as the vision Bobsled has, the victory I accomplish is massive.
I also want to mention, that if this was any other company, I don't think I would've taken the offer. What stood out with Bobsled compared to other companies I interviewed with:
- The problem they are trying to solve and how it will revolutionize the data industry
- The founders are amazing, extremely transparent and caring
- I get to set up the project from scratch (using Remix)
- I get to be a part of building the product and company from scratch
- I get to work with numerous new modern technologies and learn more about the data & cloud side of things which are blowing up at the moment
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, being the first employee of a possible unicorn with so many outstanding factors, I know that I'd likely never get that ever in my life. 😍
Should you join an early-stage start-up as I did?
Looking back, it was a risky move, I won't lie.
At the same time, if it is a chance you won't get in life again, honestly, follow your instincts after evaluating factors that matter to YOU.
I can't decide whether you should or shouldn't, but I will say, it is a blast and surely a different experience, the amount I've learned over the past 6 months has been phenomenal. ✨
Work I have done
For the first 1.5 months at Bobsled, it was just me and Andy working on the product. We started the project from scratch with Remix as another project in our Monorepo which uses Turborepo. Andy was doing a bunch of other stuff, we would pair code 3 - 5 times weekly and I'd primarily during this time work solo on the product with him reviewing the code and me at times merging the PRs myself. 🤙
Among the technologies we use in the product (the app with Remix) are Material UI, Firebase, TypeScript, Zod, Memory Cache, Cypress/Testing Library (for testing) and many more.
Our Monorepo contains other projects & packages like our reconciler, firebase library, schemas and other things that deal with the cloud infrastructure.
After 1.5 months another engineer joined our team, and as time passed till September, our team grew and we were around 10 engineers working on different parts of the codebase.
🥳 An overview of the work I've done over the past 6 months:
- Helping out with recruiting
- Setting up the Remix app from scratch and working on it
- Documented our code conventions
- Given feedback to the design
- Helped with the onboarding process
- Made sure our site is accessible and tested from time to time with Voice Over (screen reader)
- Giving an introductory talk about Remix and why we decided to go with it.
- Setting up our Cypress tests with Testing Library ensuring we query our elements using accessible queries
- Fixed performance bottlenecks found after testing pages with Lighthouse
- Configuring email forwarding to some of our custom domains in Namecheap and Google Cloud Platform
As our team grew, we encountered challenges in our processes. 🤯
To start with the first one that stands out to me is the code review process. In the beginning, as a few engineers joined the team, the code review process got a bit messy since there was no established process, hence it'd lead to confusion or discussions at times. In the end, we realized we needed to discuss this as a whole team once we grew a few engineers and loads of work started to get done, we set up an engineering meeting and discussed it. Some points from that meeting:
- Reviews should always be done.
- If engineers pair or mob code, then reviews aren't necessary.
- A PR templated should be generated to not forget to include necessary information in the PR description.
I think another thing that improved was our onboarding process. New engineers at first wouldn't get invited (given permission) via email to all the necessary documents and tools we use, hence the first day would be quite slow, constantly asking for permission for various things. Now new engineers are able to onboard quickly and easily.
Work & Life
My routine at Bobsled has shifted from time to time, as I'm also grinding in my spare time, hence I gotta be very wise with how I use my time. This way I can perform well during work and outside work too.
Fundamental points that I need in my life in order to not burnout.
- Staying hydrated
- Working out every day
- Getting good sleep (7h-8h)
- Taking my mid-day nap (30 - 60 minutes)
- Not stressing about things
Usually, I'll wake up around 5 am if not earlier, and work on other stuff i.e. side projects, blog posts, etc. till 9 am. From 9 am onwards I'll focus on working on Bobsled with a mid-day nap and a workout around noon.
I'll usually stop working around 8 pm, which is 1 hour before I head to bed. Take into account, that some time goes away due to the mid-day nap and noon workout, so I'm not grinding 11h straight, otherwise, I probably would've been dead a long time ago. 😂
This routine works fantastic for me and has given me a lot of success.
I'm excited about my future at Bobsled and see where we're heading. I genuinely believe we will become a unicorn one day, things are going fantastic for us (can't say too many details 🤫).
It is a unique position where I get to work with smart people and solve revolutionary problems with a great vision.
Feeling blessed and excited, every day. 🥰