I was employed at the start-up JustPark. It was a London-based start-up, but with a Cardiff development team, thanks to the Cardiff based Head of Engineering. It was a fantastic job, great pay for the area, great team – I got on fantastically with everyone, in both offices, exciting work, the whole package. I made some unforgettable connections with my colleagues, those that I can safely count as close friends for the foreseeable future.
Everyone in the company really loved what they did, it’s an intoxicating environment. I quickly found that I even developed a passion for parking via the process of osmosis. Simply being around other passionate individuals made me passionate about it too, even though it’s parking, and parking is a pretty dry state of affairs when you actually take the time to think about it.
There were exciting projects, I was leading one of them. A tough third party integration project that I was trusted with, and delivered incrementally to great internal review. Things were looking good, progressing fast, the company was growing at a substantial rate. I had only been there 5 months and there was another 10 hires after I came on board. For a start-up, all indications pointed towards a grand future. They even took the whole company (48 employees) on an all expenses paid retreat to Greece.
I had worked tirelessly on some brand new functionalities for the company and made some serious progress on upgrading the legacy system from a spaghetti mess of tangles into a nice, clean, Laravel-based engine. Things were looking good… Except, they weren’t. Considering my whole time employed at the company I can’t say I ever felt stable. As someone who does suffer from mild anxieties and situations where my mind actively fights against me, I thought it was me. I’m the sole breadwinner in my family, and the month before I started, I became a father for the first time. It was this extra pressure on me that I’d attributed to the feeling of instability within the company. I felt like it wasn’t the company, it was me.
On the 12th of November, after having been employed for only five months, our whole office (the Cardiff one) were let go, along with a substantial portion of the London main office. The company was forced to pull back and downscale, as part of a ‘refocusing’ drive. Dismissing the Cardiff office was an ‘easy win’ for the company, since we were a remote office. Skills aside, for our office to survive, they’d need to keep paying for the office space, equipment costs and other expenses, so from that angle it was a simple decision. I don’t blame them for this, I feel like I would have done the same thing if I’d been the one forced to make cuts.
Then, whilst we were still working our notice for the company, I watched my project get released, one that was arguably my proudest achievement at the company to date. Whilst I was thrilled with it’s release, I couldn’t help but feel a little bitter that I wouldn’t be able to see it thrive.
The feeling in the Cardiff office was… strangely amiable. The ‘banter’ amongst us continued as normal and we were all party to a strange sense of camaraderie. It was eerie. We’d just had our careers at the company cut short, but we were laughing and talking as if nothing had happened. We were hearing reports of the atmosphere in the London office and how you could cut it with a knife, but here, in Cardiff, it was a different story.
Then I realised why. In Cardiff, we were all in the same boat; each of us had the same end of the stick. This sense of camaraderie was born out this situation that we all shared. Yeah we all bitched about the situation, but each rant was followed up by a joke, or a small amount of laughter. We were obviously dealing with out own emotional reaction to what had happened, but on the surface, it felt affable. A difficult time, but one we were all in together.
We would all use any contacts available to us over the next couple of days, shooting off to various recruitment agencies and trying to quickly find a way out. Luckily the climate for developers in Cardiff is weighted in favour of the candidate, rather than the company; a city not short on new opportunities.
Then, an opportunity came up, not just for myself, but for the whole team. Crowdcube, an Exeter-based crowdfunding business brought all of us on board. This was all thanks to some excellent connections that other members in my team had made through various conventions and events in the past. We were all extremely thankful to get the opportunity, and grateful for the ability to continue on with our careers with minimal disruption, financially and otherwise.
On the 4th of January, I started as Senior Software Engineer at Crowdcube.