The Next Step

Just under three years ago, I walked into a meeting room in the Emily Morgan Hotel in San Antonio for the first day of a Rails class that proved to be a pivotal event in my life over the next few years. That class was where I met Daniel, Brandon, and Brian for the first time. Over the next couple of years, Collective Idea helped my company kickstart a major project (a project that completely redefined what was possible to achieve with extremely limited resources in open government), and taught me enormous amounts about what a good development process looks like. I enjoyed working with these guys so much that when I decided I was ready to look for other opportunities, the first call I made was to Daniel. Fortunately for me, they were happy to give me a new home. True to form, I’ve continued to learn from everybody at Collective Idea constantly over the last year.

What do our clients need?

We’ve found that many companies are struggling with technical leadership. In part because of an extremely tight developer supply, companies are finding it harder and harder to find high-level, broadly experienced developers who can not only sling code but make strategic technical decisions that affect the very viability of their company. Many times they recognize a need for a more agile development process, but never having used one they’re not sure how to implement it, and more importantly, they have a hard time sticking to it. Frequently they have a need for a high-level developer to mentor and coach their more junior staff and drive the information architecture of their business.

This is what we’re good at.

Because of the wide variety of projects that we’ve worked on over the years, these are all things we’re good at. Scalability? You got it. Special security requirements? Check. Industry-specific standards like X12 EDI? Low-level hardware integration? Business strategy? Increasingly, the answer is “We’ve got you covered.” When we take on a new client, we strive to develop a relationship that goes beyond the typical client-consultant relationship. We’re not just hired guns. We work to help our clients really refine their vision and succeed at their business. We are their virtual CTO.

My next step.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be transitioning from the role of virtual CTO to actual CTO for an Austin startup. I’m extraordinarily excited about the challenges presented by this opportunity, which combines all of the aspects of my background that I love: medical software, Rails, BDD, mentoring other developers, and developing business strategies. It comes with a big drawback, though—leaving Collective Idea.

Having my cake and eating it too.

So when Daniel and I begin talking about this move, we decided I’m not going to fully leave. We’ve all got a similar vision for what Collective Idea can be: the kind of network where you can find the answer and expertise to solve any technical problem, where we can pool enormous talent and ideas and harness them for the benefit of our clients. Most importantly, when one of us goes on to new challenges somewhere else, the “Collective” part of Collective Idea still benefits from the experiences learned there. In many ways this kind of network already exists for many people—how many times have you ever pinged a former colleague to get an opinion on something? What we want to work on is formalizing the idea and adding to our network. We want our clients to know that when they come here, they get the attention of the very best talent available, wherever they are.


I’ve been exceptionally lucky to know and work with the people I’ve met since coming to Collective Idea. I am a better developer today because of these guys. I’m grateful to everyone here not only for helping me become who I am today, but also because they’re not going to kick me out of the campfire room!