Origin Story

You don't need to reed this ramblings, I wrote them mostly for my own sake, to help organise memories that brought me here.

It happened because of my Mom, I was six years old when she gave me the book. The comics book about computers, it was called Professors Fortran’s Encyclopaedia (It’s in Russian and I couldn’t find translation), it was a popular science book for preschoolers about algorithms, bytes, modems, printers, programming languages, cats, bugs and a sparrow. After saying it aloud, I think Twitter might owes them a nod.

24 years later I still avoiding printers and trying to understand how to use algorithms and programming languages. Later, being a 10 year old console gamer I decided to be a game designer and wanted to work on Donkey Kong Country 2, instead got a chance to work on Assassin's Creed II when finally grew up!

But I digress, I started developing sites for various gaming sites in Moscow back in 2000 and took Marketing and Banking in University of Management as my major in 2001. Banking and management part was boring, but it taught me a lot, marketing and political economy were fun, and thanks to my passion to stand out I learned about Macromedia Flash, which with couple of months of experience allowed me to show off my presentations with proper animation while my peers were switching Microsoft Word Art filled powerpoint decks. But it didn't feel like my calling and I moved to Bulgaria, year later taking Informatics and Mathematics in Sofia as major.

In that period being big fan of JavaScript and Flash I became moderator and prolific blogger for couple of ActionScript, Flash and Design boards. Flash is unpopular this days, but thank it for teaching me how programming can compliment design and experience and vice versa. Spending numerous days and nights designing and implementing menus, buttons and lists was my hobby for years.

I was a student trying to get into part time contracting on sites like oDesk and RentACoder, and it took me almost a year to get first client, it felt almost unfair that it was much easier later. Few semesters later I found that linear algebra and ANSI C specific studies didn't excite me any longer, and didn't help in attempts to create something whole. Finally I dropped out in favour of becoming full time contractor, getting really lucky and landed job via badass* consultant for Toyota, and later for San Francisco based startup - SeeqPod Inc.

SeeqPod was music search, it would crawl MP3 all over internet and allow people to listen and buy tracks. I've contracted for them for almost a year, becoming lead developer responsible for next version of their app and designing API for third parties to use. Unfortunately we've got sued in the beginning of 2008 by three or four music labels, at the time I was too excited with my promotion to care about legal details. I had to leave in summer of 2008.

Though in same period of 2007-8 working on home automation which became a short lived startup, it ultimately failed and I had to scale back, but met quite a few interesting people and learned quite a lot about developing own product and experienced being a client for a while.

In 2009 I worked for Ubisoft on Assassin's Creed II, for the reference the best part of franchise. My role wasn't big and mostly relegated to UI and later gameplay prototypes. Main lesson from that contract was the fact that I want to stay as far away as possible from full time AAA game development. In 2009 and 2010 I joined couple of startups in a row, first Swedish company MillionMind developing online quiz and later company in fol.io, photography centred startup back in Bay Area.

In 2011 moved to my favourite city on Earth - London, where I worked for quite a few digital agencies, most of them sucked but few were good. If you get offer from Method, DNDigital or Unboxed Consulting join them without haggling over price. I learned a lot in Method, mostly it invigorated my interest in user experience and interaction design. At same time my neighbour were a digital marketing guru.

At that point heretic idea started to crawl into my mind - Maybe product doesn't start with user using it. Maybe it starts with the way user discovers it, knowledge user comes to product with. The way the app marketed and promoted, at the same year of 2011 Sony Computer Entertainment got hacked and got an email that my credit card information was possibly leaked. It was a second realisation - Bad security and a fact that I have to change my password and re-order my credit cards, and figure out how to ship Bulgarian cards all the way to London is a shitty user experience. It trumps lagging interfaces and in some circumstances bad typography.

Ever since I was a changed consultant, maybe even born again consultant. Caring not only about sketches, prototypes and implementations but bigger picture that includes promotion, searches, marketing, security and receipts** and mailing lists.

* Thanks Eric!\n

** Kudos to Uber for a great way of utilising receipt emails to ensure customer retention!