A bit over a year ago Jordi and I took the plunge and gave birth to Nelmio. In this blog post I will tell the story of this last year, or at least try. It feels like this all started yesterday but many things happened.
We both quit our job at Liip in the end of April 2011. At that moment we were pretty much clueless on how to proceed. We had the necessary CHF 50k to incorporate here in Switzerland. I moved to Zürich and started to learn about all the legal steps we’d have to go through. May 2011 was over before we even realized it. Jordi had gone to holidays, we attended various conferences and managed to incorporate the company. Nelmio AG was born on June 16th.
Next I started to work on a tool to convert Markdown into beautiful PDFs using FOP. I had done a lot of XSLT before and had a lof of fun with that. We use this tool to write our offers, contracts, letters and invoice. During this time we moved into the Citizen [co-working] Space and the Summer was spent writing many offers for smaller and bigger projects.
Even though we had no contract signed, we hired Igor on August 1st 2011. Having an employee on the payroll and 2 kids and a wife to support at home was really scary at that time. I constantly questioned the feasibility of having our own company, of being able to survive. Luckily, the day our bank account got empty, we signed our first contract. This happened on August 18th 2011, exactly 3 month after incorporating. The client paid 50% of the project costs up front and we were able to pay our salaries with earned money for the first time ever!
From them on things started to move a bit faster. Potential clients got home from their holidays and started to return our emails. We got 2 more contracts signed and worked a lot to fulfill all the things we promised.
We love our clients
I think we really got lucky with our clients. I do not really know how this happened, but we managed to work with clients that are amazing from day one on. They trust and respect us. We teach each other a lot. They are willing to take risks, work with cutting edge technologies and go places no one has ever gone before!
Currently we work on a “Web Of Things” project for Simple Complex. We receive data from various types of sensors and have to compare them, represent the data in a meaningful way, set up alert systems. I can not really tell you more about this project quite yet, but it is a lot of fun to work on. We render beautiful charts with Raphaël, try to figure out if the sensors are lying to us, and build a client side application using Backbone.js that talks to a JSON API written in Symfony2. Actually, we use Backbone.js on almost all our client-facing applications and write all our APIs with Symfony2.
Then there is Bluevalor, our first client. Initially, we were supposed to only do the frontend work on that project. Unfortunately our client got really unlucky with their Java backend partner. The backend was supposed to aggregate massive amounts of data in order to process it with MATLAB but a functioning prototype was never delivered. We stepped up to write a proof of concept and proved that we could do the backend job as well for a fraction of the price. It is a challenging project in which we process several hundreds of megabytes of data per day. We use cutting edge technologies like the Go language, CouchDB and Buster.JS.
Another long-term client of ours is Cinergy. They own multiple Swiss platforms like cineman.ch, teleboy.ch and moonwalk.ch. In the year we worked with them, we integrated their existing team and worked together on pushing technical boundaries to bring their platform even further. We mostly worked on Teleboy, their TV application for the web and mobile devices.
Among others, we have worked on two frontend-only projects, helping local.ch and Squirro when bootstrapping their Backbone.js apps. Both these applications are still under development in-house after we left their teams. We are really looking forward to see these apps on the market soon!
Of course we could not have done it without our clients. We have had a lot of fun working with them and are really glad we had the chance to meet them!
After one year, the company takes a massive pivot. William, our intern, will be leaving us to pursue his studies in France and Igor has left to discover other new things. We really enjoyed working with people an did not want to go back to being just the two of us.
We started looking of people but unfortunately it is really hard to find developers here in Switzerland. There is too much work and not enough people with skill. We started to consider remote work. We set up a job advertisement on our blog and had many applications from all over the planet. We got really lucky for find three people who are smart and willing to join Nelmio:
Daniel and Francesco are both from the northern part of Italy and will join us on September 1st. Samuel, who lives in Lisbon, has already been with us for 2 weeks now.
We will all be working from our cities and have daily meetings in Skype. Every couple months, we will travel to a European city and work together for a week. The two first trips are planned already: Barcelona and Berlin.
Things change all the time and having a company is a really crazy thing. But until now we have been pretty lucky and even though I spend more time talking to clients, doing bookkeeping and writing contracts than coding, I have never regretted this move.
Let’s see where this adventure is going to take us over the next 12 month!