My journey at Royal Legal Solutions started with a job listening on Craigslists seeking help with development and technology.
It was February 2018, and I was working as a CEO at my own company: Club de Gorras, as you can read in the previous article. We were having financial problems in the company due to external conditions: bad economical conditions in Argentina, and also due internal conditions: our warehouse was robbed early that year. It was really hard to generate money without stock (Club de Gorras was a men’s fashion e-commerce company). That was the main reason I start seeking a job: to invest more money in the company.
So I start working in March 2018 as a “ninja developer”, helping the company with some basic tasks like fixing problems with their WordPress site and create custom forms.
It was not such a big deal at the beginning. I was working as a freelancer taking care of errors and problems. We start gaining more synergy and the COO, Mark Swedberg, began to gain more confidence in me.
Early in May that year, they invested in creating a new technology department to start creating custom software for internal use. I began working as a CTO at that moment, with more responsibility and in charge of hiring new staff such as; other developers, designers, and marketers.
Our first challenge was to develop an internal checkout system using Stripe to process the payments. It had cool features to create customers and save cards directly on their account. It also had great HubSpot integration so we can keep everything updated and synced.
Nodejs was the backend language chosen to build an internal API and ReactJS for the front-end. MySQL for the database. All working on the Google Cloud Platform using services like Kubernetes, Cloud Storage, SQL and Virtual Machines among others.
Once we were able to launch this new software, we saw that we reduced human labor to run orders from 10 minutes to less than 30 seconds.
That was a really exiting project to work on because we had to create something new from scratch and it was really important to keep the company’s vision in mind for future developments. It was crucial to do research beforehand and to plan well before starting to write any lines of code.
On the other hand, we knew that the data generated by the internal system would be available to our company’s customers through a new tool. Having a good database schema was really important at this point.
Today that software is the “masterpiece” of the company. We have all our internal team using it and all our customers have used it once at least. We are collecting a lot of feedback and improving every day. We converted a small internal system into the heart of the company – and for me, that is why Royal Legal Solutions is much more than a “legal company”.
Being a CTO in a small company or in an early-stage startup is not easy (and I love it that way). For sure you need to wear many many hats. It would be really hard for somebody to write a list of your weekly or monthly activity since everything changes so quickly. You are growing faster and faster (I hope so) and you are going to break a lot of things.
Sometimes, you are going to need to be an HR manager and give some interviews and write job listings. Sometimes, you’ll have to be in a finance meeting to define your department budget. Most days you are going to be looking at your IDE and monitoring your cloud provider.
From my point of view, in order to be a good CTO, you need to be able to multi-task and be very well aligned to the vision of the company. You are not going to be working on coding and DevOps 100% of your time. You have to understand what the priorities are for the company and sometimes you are going to need to stop working on an exiting project and work on a boring one in order to generate more revenue, fit a customer’s requirement or simply fix something you had postponed a long time ago.
Finally, you need to understand your role is going to evolve and change over and over again. And that is awesome!