First off, thanks for coming here and reading this. I feel honored you took the time. Here’s a little more (ok, a lot more; it’s long) details on what I’m up to and looking for. If this still is interesting and seems like a good fit, let me know. If not, no problem.
A little about me: (check out my online presence)
My name is Dan Fellars (I also go by Danny). I currently live in Provo, UT (Yep, I have Google Fiber!) but am original from San Diego, CA. After going to graduate school in computer science (MSCS) I worked as a full time engineer in the gaming industry in San Diego for many years but always had an interest in business and running my own company. So, I returned to BYU in Provo to earn an MBA and got involved in venture capital. I worked with a VC firm for a little while, then left to go (eventually) become the CEO of a smallish (~$12M revenue) company in the healthcare space. We ended up merging that company with another and after a short stay with the new company, I left to start my own company. That was 3 years ago. During the last 3 years I’ve been back to writing code and building the software platform I’m currently deploying. I re-joined the VC firm I was at previously as an Entrepreneur in Residence and provide them consulting and some development services while I developed my software. I’ve also done some freelance work for a few other clients during that time.
Why I’d make a great partner:
I’m going to be more self promotional than I typically am with this section, but I wanted to share why I think I’d make a great partner to you as a strong technical talent who brings a lot to the table yourself. I’ve had the unique experience to have roles in development, marketing, business development, finance/investing, and management, but at my core I’m a technologist. I believe that having a better product makes all other aspects of a business that much easier. What would it be like to work with a business person who gets you and all you have to deal with? Someone who can speak intelligently to the product and technology when dealing with clients; who doesn’t have to drag you into to every client or sales conversation to answer simple software questions; Someone who gives you the uninterrupted time needed to get in the zone to build great products; Someone as driven as you to build great products and grow a sustainable and reputable business; Someone who, instead of asking the dreaded “when will it be done” questions, can follow the git commits and already know, and even jump in and help if needed? That’s what it would be like working with me. I’ll handle all the boring business stuff, financial modeling, growth hacking, sales, blogging, HR, partnerships, investors, legal, etc and let you do what you do best: build.
My priorities in life are 1) My family (married with wife and 4 kids), 2) My faith (if you didn’t already guess based on where I live, I’m Mormon), 3) My Health (I try to get sufficient exercise and sleep), and 4) This Startup. But don’t be mistaken, even though my startup is priority #4 on my list, I still put a TON of time and energy into it and many times it is my top priority; but overall I feel I have a balanced perspective on life and startups.
What I’m working on:
When I first started on this venture, my original goal was to build an open source marketing integration and automation platform. This was the biggest pain point I had at my previous company as far as bringing all the different marketing systems together into a single platform. After getting into it, I realized I had built/was building a pretty awesome platform that has a much broader use case; I could essentially build any kind of backend web application in a nice, modular approach very quickly. Its kinda what Drupal could be if it didn’t suck and wasn’t so bloated, then even better J. As I started using it and showing it, I found that my original goal was still a ways off, but that I could start generating revenue more quickly taking on projects where I built backend platforms for clients. These are not just contract/freelance work. They typically pay for a license to my platform plus any custom development. All my contracts are either ongoing/long term or will be converted to that model this year.
My committed sources of revenue for 2014 are:
2 custom development contracts paying monthly retainers; 1 in finance and the other in marketing
1 product in the oil & gas industry paying a monthly recurring fee (this product alone could do very well once I finalize a sales partnership)
I’m also about to launch my own product called Trackacompany (an outdated version of it is up at trackacompany.com if you want to take a peek; but just know it will break) – this is a competitive analysis tool to track companies vs their competitors. I’ve got committed customers ready to beta and pay once its ready. I’m working on getting it shipped next month. It is built entirely on my platform and showcases the ability to completely customize the UI of the platform.
I still have a long term vision of revisiting my original idea of open sourcing my platform, but I’m not there yet. Here is the truth and me being completely transparent: There is a lot of technical debt with the platform. At one point I had everything unit tested and fully documented. Then I made a major architecture change which broke everything. I was so frustrated with the wasted time in documenting and writing unit tests on what was now thrown away that I put those ideologies on hold for a while to make sure my new changes would stick. Well, the changes work great, but now I’ve gone on too long without addressing testing/documentation. It’s built pretty well and modular that I’m able to get by even in production environments for now, but we all know that won’t last forever. So, those are some of the things that need to be addressed before I’d open it to the wild.
The technology is PHP heavy. I chose PHP purely for business reasons. If you don’t like PHP then this won’t be a good fit for you. I actually hadn’t done much PHP before starting this but PHP made sense from a business standpoint as many developers from the WordPress, Magento, Drupal, SugarCRM communities would be my target market of users for an open source marketing platform. It’s built on top of an MVC PHP 5.3+ framework called Lithium. Lithium is not widely known, but is very similar to more popular frameworks like Laravel. The creators were originally part of CakePHP team.
The database is MongoDB. A document based database provides for some pretty unique capabilities when your building an open framework like this. Mongo doesn’t always get good reviews. I haven’t ran into any issues with it yet, but for any major projects it’s not a requirement to use Mongo for any heavy data usage. I’m keeping an eye on TokuMX and RethinkDB as possible replacements if MongoDB becomes an issue.
One other unique feature of the platform and really the sweet spot for the types of applications I build is the Service integration capabilities. Any type of 3rd party API integration is easily wrapped into the platform and useable by the application code. So, for example, my trackacompany product connects to several apis and manages all the oauth tokens, api endpoints, etc very easily. Any new connections/end points can fit nicely into the environment. That’s was a key selling point to all but 1 of the customers I have.
Bootstrap vs. Funding:
Currently I’m bootstrapping this and funding it myself. I will continue to work with a few select companies to built products together with them to fund the development of my own products while they pick up but I don’t have a definite path I need to take. I can continue building it organically and am pretty confident it will be successfully to some degree. I’m also open to taking some investment money to fuel it and grow faster. A lot of my decision on which path to take will be determined by the level of talent I bring on in the early days. I know the pros and cons of going down the investor route having worked as a VC. So before I make that decision I will be 100% sure it is the right choice because there is no going back once you do. I need to find product/market fit first with a product before even considering taking on investment. I hope to accomplish that this year.
What I’m looking for:
If you’re still with me, this is where you come in. There are two different types of people I’m talking to:
1) Someone who I can trust with handing over client projects to. I have some ongoing contract work that I can subcontract out to and if I had a trusted resource to take this on, I can go out and find more. I’m now only doing ongoing monthly retainer based contracts, all of which are built on top of my platform, so it makes it easy to manage and I know there is consistent work. This will be on an as-available basis, meaning if we agree to work together, once I have new work come in, I’ll bring you into the mix. I’ll make sure you can earn the rate you want and I will assist as needed to ensure a satisfactory project. This would all be business/backend type application development, not wordpress/front-end type work.
2) A full time partner that will become my technical right hand man (hopefully for a lifetime of multiple startups). Someone I can completely trust and hand over the keys to the kingdom and know it’s in good hands. I’ll always be involved with the product and will have an influence, but my real interest is becoming the leader of the organization and making it grow through sales and marketing. If this is what you’re looking for, I’d still want to work with you through a subcontract project as described in #1 first to make sure we work well together. If you’re looking for a new job quickly, I can’t offer you that; this will take some time for us to get to know each other and reach that level of comfort/trust.
For either role, I need senior PHP level developers. For option #1 I can get by if you’re not a full stack developer, but for Option 2 you’ll need to have it all.
For both, I need guys who don’t need training and don’t need me to hand hold (other than the specifics of my platform). You need to be the type who can figure things out on your own and have been through the entire development cycle a few times before. I don’t measure that by years of experience. If you typically need to rely on someone else to help guide you through technical challenges, then you’re probably not at the level I’m looking for.
Another option: If you’re not quite ready or willing for the scenarios above, but still want to help out by taking a look at my codebase and offering feedback; or doing a small project for it and possibly become listed as a founding contributor to a new open source project; or maybe you want to use my platform to build your own SAAS business; I’d still like to talk to you as those might be options I’d entertain.
Ok, still interested? Cool! First off I want to be up front: This will take a while to work through, so if you’re in need of a new job in the next few weeks you’ll probably need to look elsewhere.
If you’re interested and think you’re a fit for what I’m looking for, respond to this email with any information about yourself you haven’t already shared (github, portfolio, resume, etc), what role you’d be interested in, and anything else you want to share.
If I think we could be a good fit, I’ll then set up a call with you to discuss more and answer any questions and go from there.
That’s it for now. If you have a little crazy in you and want to see more, contact me at dan @ my last name (fellars) dot com
– Dan (Danny) Fellars