TL; DR: From the entry-level developer who tries to prove his worth, to becoming a key member of a team; from getting specific tasks to guiding clients through the features and requirements; from learner to leader and mentor; always changing, challenging, and fulfilling to make a difference and contribute to cultivating a great community.
Maybe you already know the history of RebelDot told on different occasions by Tudi, our CEO and, most recently, as part of the Hacking Work podcast.
What you are about to read is a different perspective on a series of key moments of this history, as experienced by myself, one of the 7 people who started out alongside Tudi, more than 13+ years ago. A genuine and transparent story about how I got to experience the start and development, with all its ups and downs, of what is known today as RebelDot.
Starting out in tech as a 3rd-year university student
In the spring of 2008, as my 3rd year of university was drawing closer to its end, I took part in a student contest where many potential employers were looking for new blood, talented and young engineers to support their development services. This is where I had my first contact with the representatives of Imprezzio, a US-based company. Tho’ I did not have an exceptional result on the contest, I guess something about the way I presented our concept made them notice my potential which helped me land an interview.
And sure thing, that was truly exciting.
Around the same time, I was accepted for an internship as part of a different company. Having already figured out my close future, I was very relaxed in the discussion with the US-based company, attending this interview to satisfy my sense of curiosity rather than take on a different challenge.
Now I don’t remember everything that we’ve talked about, but this one question stuck with me ever since – Why do you like programming?
It is not the question itself, but the answer that I gave which made it so memorable and which, to this day, still applies – „it’s the feeling that I get when I start with a blank screen/a blank canvas and build something that will end up being used to make a difference.”
The follow-up discussion I’ve had with Tudi, back then the Services Division Director, in charge of scaling the Romanian team, made me really consider this opportunity, something that is still vivid in my memory.
He told me very friendly, yet upfront, that he wanted me to join his team and help him in scaling this Romanian division. I immediately felt that he’s an open-minded person with whom I can be truly transparent which gave me the confidence to take the shot and get onboard.
Growing as part of RebelDot
In the first years, the focus was on GROWTH on technical and non-technical skills. I was working part-time, in parallel with studying for my last university year. From the very beginning, I was welcomed with support from all my colleagues. The majority were at the beginning of their career, and it was this authentic spirit of togetherness. Over the years we obviously grew and while it is not something we like to say right now, back then, when there were just 8 of us, having as Headquarters a rented apartment, it did feel like family.
FUN fact – The number 13 received a special meaning for me as part of this team. I have known Tudi for 13 years, he is 13 months older than me, I went on parental for 13 months and, as part of the project I am currently working on, I get to collaborate with colleagues who are 13 years younger than me.
In these 13 years, I saw people come and go, people who all had an influence on my personal & professional development, regardless of their role, seniority or amount of time spent in the team. If at first, we were only developers, I witnessed how the roles diversified in time, onboarding the first QA engineer, the first designer, assistant manager and gradually setting up entire departments. I recommended and brought on board 2 close friends of mine, and it was fulfilling to contribute to their careers.
Learning to adapt and keep up with the speed of business
But change wasn’t always easy. Even though steep growth is a good thing, for me, at least, it meant changing the way things are done. I was accustomed to the way we approached tasks and was somewhat scared that our new colleagues would not adopt our culture.
I must admit, sometimes I was slightly reticent towards change. I tried not to show it, but, over the years, I figured that having a fresh new perspective could actually be beneficial, opening new opportunities and chances of learning from each-other.
A pivotal moment occurred a few years after I became a key member of the team working on a large enterprise project. I was part of that team for almost 5 years and started feeling kind of stuck, feeling like I couldn’t keep up with new technology. And new tech was present, since fresh new projects were starting to be developed by other teams in the company, but it seemed a bit out of grasp. So, with an open mind, I addressed my concern to Tudi and we planned my transition. The process didn’t happen overnight, it took several weeks, but with patience and encouragement from Tudi, I had the trust to wait and look forward to its outcome.
Following on the note „be careful what you wish for it might happen”, adapting to a faster pace and ever-changing priorities is something that I felt stronger than I was expecting. It was overwhelming, nevertheless, but one aspect which compensated for this accelerated rhythm was defining a pattern in the people we got on our team. With every new colleague, I got an indirect assurance that there is yet another open-minded person with whom I could always talk and grow. Everyone here is willing to help and commit to building together both apps as well as solid relationships.
Being exposed to such innovative technologies (backend, frontend and machine learning too) and to global clients, leaders in huge industries, helped me develop not just in the technical sense, but also in a social way. I was given ownership on important projects, responsible for impactful technologies and, beyond everything, people’s journeys which helped me define a successful relationship based on trust.
Learning to take risks and being rebel together
The Split. Perhaps the most popular moment in the story of RebelDot, one that we all perceived differently. The reactions varied from OMG to WTF and, of course, NOW WHAT?! It was the only moment when I saw Tudi worried and confused, but, despite all these, he managed this situation in the most considerate way with upmost integrity.
Not many people would have taken the risk of putting the people before themselves. He inspired the feeling that what we built so far should be continued. Continued Together.
And this is what made the rest of us to stick together even in the midst of this chaos – the promise that we can follow the path together.
The values of RebelDot are indeed our individual values, because RebelDot is us. And these values have not been thought of thin air, but they were something which we always had. Now, looking back, I feel like we can proudly say “We did it!” And not just this, but “we did it together!”. But more important than looking back is to keep looking forward and continue together!