When I started to work at 3beards in June 2013 I knew very little about startups. Mike and Joe were looking for a web developer and I was lucky enough to join the team as employee number one and help them shape the future of the company. It wasn't long until I felt at home in a startup and amongst startups. That was also my opportunity to focus on developing one product and get better at it.
I had a lot to learn in a short period of time in order to meet the expectations of the role. My front-end development skills then just weren't enough for our ambitions and right from the very first days I taught myself all about the command line, basic system administration and version control with Git, which was great fun. Although I was the one developer in the team, I made a point to stick to good practices and the industry's standards. I knew this would help me on the long run. Later I also learned Ruby and took a course at General Assembly to dive into the Ruby on Rails framework. This helped me build the web application we have now, where we gathered all of our old websites under the same roof.
I was in charge of our tech but of course the core of the business being events I had to be on hand just as much as the rest of the team were. From our weekly networking meetups to our ad-hoc hackathons, including our monthly demo nights and regular panel discussions or fireside chats, there was enough to keep the London startup community busy, and of course, ourselves. We have met incredibly talented and amazing people over the past few years, and heard as many inspiring stories. It can be hard work at times, but the takeaway is always a great reward and soon I became very comfortable with events, and man, I must say we had such a huge. Amount. Of fun.
One big startup family
If you've never been to any Silicon Drinkabout event – or any of the 3beards events for that matter – it wouldn't take you more than attending a couple of them to make friends and embrace the community spirit. The simple fact that these events are still relevant and successful four years after they started speaks for itself. Bringing people together is powerful and it does a lot of good. People love us for that.
Community in the startup scene has played a key role for me. I met most of my London friends at events, people I would see more often than my family and with whom I have the best of times. Work makes a lot more sense when you can see the positive impact it has on people around you. It rapidly became clear to me that we were onto a great and rather unique mission at 3beards, a beautiful one too.
Then something magical happens: the community that you've spent so much time and put so much love into supporting give back. People from abroad reach out to us and soon replicate our model in their own city. London friends offer their help and volunteer in different ways, to give a hand at events or even to help me on the technical front like Andrew McDonough and William Gilchrist did on a few occasions. People realise the value they get and are willing to help around them too. That's where community takes its true meaning.
Running the show
In late 2014 Mike and Joe stepped down as full time Beards and they trusted Vicky and myself to take over the running of the company, which we were both very excited about. It had been decided that even though they provided value in many ways, our hackathon events were taking our focus away from the core community and so the challenge for us was to make the business sustainable without the income these larger events generated.
Although it definitely felt different with our new responsibilities and with the team being reduced to the two of us, our motivation was strong. The year started off incredibly well with the launch of Unicorn Hunt, the new version of our job board that our friend Stef helped us build. We couldn't hope for a better start, 2015 was looking as bright and promising as the previous years had been!
Not only did we manage to run our regular events, we also continued to expand Silicon Drinkabout in the world, which we celebrated with our first summit in May last year. Moreover, we were lucky to meet and host a good number of high profile speakers at Chew The Fat. In all regards Vicky and I had successfully taken 3beards through another year while providing value and remaining true to our mission. We had an opportunity to expand the team and we hired the talented Bruno who brought in his enthusiasm and marketing skills to help us grow even bigger.
2015 was also the year I got more involved with other events in the startup community. I joined the TechRunners in the very early days, helped them grow their weekly group and ran the Hackney Half Marathon with them in just under 01:30:00! I also partook in a three-day ride from Paris to London with the TechBikers to raise money for Room To Read, a charity that works on improving literacy and gender equality in education in the developing world. Achievements all round!
Once a Beard, always a Beard
Over the past few months I shared with the team my wish to focus more on tech and product, and they were very understanding. We all agreed that it was a right time for me to move on and pursue my career goals. It wasn't an easy decision for me but I know it's the right one, and I am very excited to be taking things to the next level. By now the title of this post probably makes more sense to you as it happens that my adventure at 3beards comes to just about one thousand days, which made my perfectionist self smile and qualified for a good post title at the same time.
Working at 3beards and being given the opportunity to run the company has certainly been an intense journey. I feel incredibly lucky to have been working with such an awesome, supportive and inspiring team, building something quite special, and I couldn't be more proud of all we achieved to date. Not only did it teach me a lot, it also helped me grow as an individual. Our strong values and ethos will resonate in all the things I do going forward and I know that at heart I'm not really leaving.
I'm not going far and in fact you'll most likely still find me at 3beards events every now and then. While I will be looking for my next role in the coming weeks, Vicky and Bruno are looking for a brilliant someone to join them as an Events and Community Manager, and I can't wait to see who will be the lucky one. They have some very exciting plans in the making for this year!