Founder & Venture lead
On one monitor there’s a terminal and an editor, on another a browser with some documentation. It’s dark outside and eerily quiet. Social media is silent. No notifications. No distractions. No interruptions. You take a quick glance at the time, 02:42. Going to bed is for sure inviting, but time is less relevant as your determination to move forward somehow makes the code write itself. There’s always something new around the corner to explore. Just one more little thing. One small improvement. One final feature.
You eventually retire to bed at 6 am, feeling sensational (honestly awfully tired, but we’ll go with sensational for now).
If you are a developer, you’ve presumably had several sessions similar to the one above - even if you are not the stereotypical night owl. The thrilling session you had would possibly make your friends yawn - perhaps you were just learning the basics of React. But it doesn’t matter. It is easy to fall in love with development. Creating something from nothing but your skill and willingness to learn is unbeatable.
Still, many developer consultants are bored at work. The words “developer” and “consultant” in the same sentence conjure unpleasant images of old monitors and windows machines in brick buildings. Endless meetings, weird processes you don’t want to follow, stupid users, roadmaps, time to market stress, shoehorned new features, Jira boards, retrospects and standups. The magical craft is lost.
However dreadful the above sounds, the fact is that oftentimes, all of the above are necessary. I know many developers in the situation above (except for the windows machines and brick buildings, of course) who absolutely love their job. Processes are necessary. Stupid users are necessary. Roadmaps are necessary. Without them, we wouldn’t have the means to take input and produce output. The difference is that if you love your job, you often feel an attachment to the company, product or mission. That attachment gives meaning to your work, and perhaps that attachment is solidified by you owning equity in the company. Projects deserve your love, and the code loves you back for it.
At Backtick, we’re on a quest to make consulting not suck. We aspire to make engineers love their job, especially as consultants, however contradictory that may sound. We expect our engineers to work on client projects with the same passion as if it were their own projects. This is possible because we truly believe in our clients’ ventures1 and because we give equity to all our engineers, more on that later.
In case you haven’t noticed, great engineers are really smart. You can’t trick them with corporate bullshit, team building activities, after work, quiz nights, and “paid expenses” that the client would’ve reimbursed anyways. It just makes engineers feel forced to love their workplace when they don’t. That doesn’t mean we don’t do fun things at Backtick - we just consider them hygiene factors that rid us of decay. And, we never work more than 40 hours per week.
If you need to tell your staff that you care about them, you’ve already failed. You need to show them. We believe that by building great products and services we can make an impact. We want to hire the best engineers out there. By extension, this means that we also want to hire entrepreneurs. Many great engineers are entrepreneurs. The skill set of shipping excellent code is very similar to building great products and companies. Many engineers don’t see it that way, yet still, they seek the startup world to work on something meaningful with other brilliant minds. Plus, there’s usually equity in startup work. Taking equity in a startup helps with extra motivation and allows you to reap the rewards of your efforts. If you can get rich by doing what you love at a startup, all the better.
At Backtick rewards are plentiful. We see all our employees as partners, and we believe in partner retention. We believe in quality and transparency. That is why we openly share our equity model to offer employees direct equity in Backtick Valley2 (our holding company) and the products we create there.
We invest in startups with both our time and hard cash. Sometimes, we offer our clients to build products for free, and instead have them prepay a license cost (given that there are market signals that others might be interested in it as well). We give employees equity in projects we start internally which builds a portfolio of multiple companies that employees acquire equity in. You can read more about all of this here.
Published on January 11th 2023
Last updated on March 1st 2023, 10:36
Founder & Venture lead