Where software development meets entrepreneurship Software dev + entrepreneurship

Episode 1: Intro and 3 biggest misconceptions

2019-07-09 | 27 minutes | DEVpreneur podcast

Charlie Reese and Tom Zaragoza introduce themselves. They then talk about the three biggest misconceptions they have encountered in tech pertaining to software development / product management / entrepreneurship.

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Welcome to Tom and I's podcast! I'm Charlie.

My name is Tom.

And we both live in Toronto Canada. We're doing this podcast, it's going to be about software development and entrepreneurship, and we'll probably bring on occasional guests from the tech or entrepreneurship scene. What we'll (probably) talk about is what has or hasn't worked for Tom and I, what we've seen work or not work, as well as common gotchas. Anyway, Tom, how did you get started in software development, and what are you doing in terms of entrepreneurship?

So I've been developing, or I've been in the space I guess, since I was young; high school is when I was introduced to programming. One of my high school teachers was teaching this one programming class. He had his MBA and all that stuff; he wasn't a straight developer or anything like that. So thankfully I was part of that class so he could introduce me to that. So ever since then I've been developing, learning stuff...


[In that class] we did turing and then next it was VB.NET. So obviously, you know, from there we would get into computer science, so I did that for a bit.

And then you went to U of T? University of Toronto?

Ya, I moved into cognitive science and then halfway through that I took a web development job at a company.

You were offered a job, right?

Ya. So I interned there first.

What was the name of that company?

It was called Canada Stays, they did vacation rentals. Shout out to Canada Stays. Regan, if you are listening to this, what up?!?

It was kind of similar to Airbnb?

The Canadian version, I guess, and that's how I got my start in development. I think the cool thing about that was they were a start-up, right, and so there were a lot of moving parts, and that's when I got interested in how they all work in unison. Like seeing how customer support works, how sales works, how the marketing team works, and how the development team works (obviously because that's what I was part of). Then I was like, you know what, I could probably try something!

You mean, do it on your own, or have your own product or something?

Right. So, I mean, before that I had a lot of projects on the side during University. After university, that's when I had the experience, and I was like, OK, I have a little more confidence, there is some money that I can put behind it, and I can jump right into it and start doing stuff. I've moved on from that company. I'm at Tulip right now.

That's where we met!

Yes, that's exactly where we met. I have a software side business called Vocalmatic which does automatic transcriptions.

And you founded that while you were still at Canada Stays, right?

Ya. That is true. So that was kind of on the side, you know? So I mean, that's kind of where I'm at right now. There have been a lot of lessons along the way, a lot of failed projects, a lot of failed things that have happened...

Which we're going to talk about probably after we introduce the podcast in the first episode, although we will talk about it a little bit at the end - three common gotchas.

Just to give you some value right from the get go. So, I'm gonna flip it, talk about yourself!

I think this is going to be fun because I feel like we ended up in the same spot, or are in a similar spot today, but I came from a very different background. I took a very different set of paths to get here. So for me, I actually had very little interest in or knowledge of software development in high school - had no idea what it was about. I was not tech-savvy. I went and did a business degree and ended up working in investment banking at Rothschild and Wells Fargo for several years... and then kind of... I don't remember how it happened actually, but I wrote a little bit of code to make a super simple website that had a little bit of JavaScript, and I just thought it was kind of a riot to throw together... actually I remember now. I was making a joke website as a present for my brother who goes to Carleton University. I called the website and got the domain straightoutofcarlton.com.


Then I deployed it and had it all set up with hosting and that was part of my Christmas present to him. So that's how I got started. I got super interested, and I was getting really beat down at work - because the hours were brutal in investment banking - So I kind of thought it would be cool to take a year off and learn how to program, and then maybe on the other side of that, be a kinda technical product manager or something. I ended up falling in love with it - programming.

So what did you do in your year off?

Good question. So I actually did, I hesitate to call it a bootcamp, because it's a lot longer and I'd say it's a lot more in-depth. It was called Launch School. It's 1000 to 2000 hours of similar material as a development bootcamp, except Launch School only really focuses on fundamentals. They don't really teach frameworks, which was good because you ended up learning enough from the fundamentals to teach yourself what you need to know after. That's how I got started.


After that, I decided I wanted to be a software developer. So I built a sample project out. It was this idea I had that real estate agents were somewhat similar to investment bankers, and so the presentations they could give their clients could be somewhat simlilar when they're helping a client to buy a property or sell a property. They could do valuations and comparable property valuations; I did a lot of that work and put together a lot of presentations as an investment banker. So it would create those kinds of presentations automatically, but it had a really bad UI and design, and just an overall poor user experience. So after running a pilot with a real estate brokerage and getting somewhat negative feedback, and knowing that I would have to spend a lot more time to fix up the product, I decided it would make sense to get a full-time job. I ended up at Tulip.


Which is where we met. It was great because I was there for almost exactly a year and I kind of got to really quickly fill in my knowledge gaps. After doing that and actually during doing that, I built a couple of side business that were less successful than Vocalmatic. The last one I built made a little bit of money. I'm not actively working on it anymore. Currently, I'm working on some other stuff on the side, which I'm hoping to then release into my next project. After Tulip, I ended up at a venture capital company / accelerator called RBC Ventures, which is owned by the Royal Bank of Canada.


Also, I actually found out today that I'll be helping out a little bit with the RBC Reach program, which is an accelerator for pre series A tech companies not owned by RBC Ventures... Anyway, yeah, we kind of both got the same spot. We're both software developers trying to make products on the side. Kind of trying to combine software development and entrepreneurship. But we took very different paths - it's kind of funny how you can come from very different backgrounds and end up liking all the same stuff and getting to the same place.

Episode continues... listen above to hear more!