This week’s geek is Randy Schmidt, independent developer of Forge38. You’ve probably encountered some of his past work with iSepta, shareURmeal, Lose it or Lose it and Nerd Merit Badges.
Hi Randy, tell me about yourself. I know you’re an independent developer, but what how did you get to where you are?
I graduated from Drexel in 2005 with a structural engineering degree and started working as a structural engineer. I had started to play with web development in college but it ramped up after I graduated. I built a couple of web apps for the engineering company based on some ideas I had while working as an engineer.
After a couple of years, I realized it wasn’t going where I wanted so I started thinking about going out on my own. I realized I was a bit socially awkward so I started operation “Learn to Socialize”. I started going to a bunch of meetups around Philly and took some days off of work to go to Cream Cheese sessions (IndyHall before it was IndyHall). It was all these meetups that led me to think about and eventually work on iSepta (I’ll get to that later).
In July 2007 I was getting more and more frustrated with my engineering job and quit. They immediately went into damage control mode and tried to keep me in _some_ capacity. They said I could work part time so I could gently move into working for myself. They dragged their feet for several weeks and came back with “You’ll have to work four days a week to keep benefits”. I was a little annoyed because it seemed like they were trying to get me to cool off then stay as full-time. I sent an email back that I didn’t care about benefits, “I was ready to quit without them three weeks ago”. So yeah, when I came back in on Monday they fired me .
It took me about a month before I was up to speed with enough client work so it was a little scary. I quickly found that although I had little experience building software professionally, I was fairly practical in how I built things so clients seemed to like me. I haven’t had a problem getting client work ever since.
One of the things I did early on was work A LOT of hours to build up a nest egg in my business. It wasn’t fun but it has really allowed me to take time off to work on other projects the last few years.