The Unlikely Developer

Shingai MunyukiBy Shingai Munyuki 1 year agoNo Comments

Playing the developer.

I sort of cast myself into the developer role, not because I like the gruelling pain of coding, the hours and days of trying to solve a problem, and not even knowing the right terms to use to search for potential answers. For me, I just wanted to create something, something for artists and word smiths to share their work. I actually saw a market, and trying to be the ‘tech’ billionaire, which is the ‘in thing’ these days, which I was promised to be, I had to put it out. But there is power in that. All of sudden, someone like me, without money, rich parents with powerful connections, could, if I applied myself, become what I wanted to become. Of course, I couldn’t get money to hire someone, let alone get the idea funded by those infamous VC’s and investors and all that good, cloud nine stuff. I had one option and one option only, I had to learn. Always felt like a fraud though, which, till this day, makes me learn even more skills. Whilst it was cool for those around me to develop websites, ie, find a theme from WordPress, make sure it’s looking good, designed well, good fonts, UI/UX on point, and speed being key, it was all win win situation, client got the best of website development, professionally done, quality stuff, and all we had to do was buy a theme, make sure it has a good demo to it, granted, looking for the right theme was like digging for gold in the Sahara desert. Knowing good design is a skill honed by time and time of bleeding eyes glued to the screen, and that was the value, understanding what good design is, how elements come together and whether or not it will perform. The founder of the startup I worked for had a neck for this, it rubbed off on me, but I was comfortable with it because art is my background. The problem was, I knew nothing of PHP, so we couldn’t just code a functionality we needed, we had to look hard for that.

Whilst it was cool for those around me to develop websites, ie, find a theme from WordPress, make sure it’s looking good, designed well, good fonts, UI/UX on point, and speed being key, it was all a win win situation, client got the best of website development, professionally done, quality stuff, and all we had to do was buy a theme, make sure it has a good demo to it Granted, looking for the right theme was like digging for gold in the Sahara desert. Knowing good design is a skill honed by time served with bleeding eyes glued to the screen, and that was the value, understanding what good design is, how elements come together and whether or not it will perform. The founder of the startup I worked for had a neck for this, it rubbed off on me, but I was comfortable with it because art is my background. The problem was, I knew nothing of PHP, so we couldn’t just code a functionality we needed, we had to look hard for that.

The Dreamer

I had bigger dreams though, going back to my idea, which by then had developed, goddam ambition. Code was, still is, alluring to me. I’m an artist at heart, I do ‘whole picture’, not ‘tiny details’. I hated math and anything to do with functions, infect that word kept me up at night when I took  Aerospace Materials at Coventry University after high school, Lord knows how I got in, which was just a whole big joke, needless to say, I was out before the year completed, went to London and started playing guitar in smoke filled pubs, I understood what it means to be the struggling artist, but it wasn’t until when I decided I wanted to create art with code that the real problems started.

Struggling Developer

My journey to development has made me spend hours looking for opportunities, try building a complex platform with minimal programming skills honed in by hacking and slashing code from StackOverflow and GitHub, with no money and little, if any, skilled human resources. Honestly, the best option would have been to get 100% quality stuff, for free, we can’t have that obviously. But, problem-solving thrives in that.

Trial by Fire

I was addicted to the fire, most of the times, I would take on jobs that were completely out of my scope, one of the first big jobs I did, as opposed to getting a basic html5 template for a basic 5 page website,  came about working with what was then, The NUBI Hub, a digital creative agency and startup incubating with Entrepreneurial Spark.

In our first month of incubation, we got a client that needed a really complex membership system, personal trainers and what not. The system had to have the ability to restrict content by membership type, have payment gateways, the ability for personal trainers to communicate with their subscribers,  as well as some other technical stuff, plus it had to look good, I left that for my business partner, I was all about the tech. I wanted to do it, partly because it was a huge contract, I needed the money, which was more money than I had ever got as a freelancer, but also because of what I would learn, it’s always about learning for the sake of creating tech and that ghost of mine, being a fraud.

Little did I know, the contract will be dragon fire, the pits of hell itself. The first thing I realised was that our competitor for that particular contract was right to charge twice as much, we under cut him. As the work progressed, it was problem after problem, once you solve one, another comes through, and it became so messy, hacking my way through uncharted territory, sleepless nights and 26 hours a day looking for solutions, intense meetings, pressure from mentors, business partner, not to mention all the eyes, different businesses in the incubator, looking at me, talking about me, how I was literarily the make or break for that business. I had to constantly reassure them, even when I was far from solving a problem. I had faith.

The other side

After 7 months or so of pure hell fire, we completed the contract. Fire burns, but I came out stronger, more experienced, everything I learnt during that contract, I was able to use it on all the sites ad platforms we developed in the coming years. Funny thing is, now, I could build it easily, though I wouldn’t use WordPress because I simply cannot stand PHP, I would most likely develop it in meteor.js. That job was the worst and best thing to ever happen to me, for it was one of the reasons I decided that maybe, just maybe, this musician, visual artist, occasionally weird introvert designer, could play at being a developer and venture into software. Am I still a fraud? I fight with that every day, but because of it, I keep learning my skills in programming, creating tech.

Categories:
  Developer, Journal, Web Development
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Shingai Munyuki
About

 Shingai Munyuki

  (5 articles)

Shingai is a Designer and Developer. Founder of Journey Less. Creator, futurist, technologist. He sees art, design and innovation as the symptom of a highly developed society.

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