Teaching The Way of The Ruby – Jolly Good Code
There’s something about honesty that always is beautiful. It is both undeniable and unequivocal. That is why when it comes to a career, you are often told to do what you love. Of course, you have to do that well, because the love cannot sustain you for the long road ahead.
Amalgamating the love of teaching and the honest powers of the programming language Ruby is Jolly Good Code, a startup dedicated to empowering young software engineers with agile ways of realizing their imagination. According to founder Winston Teo, there’s apparently nothing more fulfilling than teaching a man how to fish.
We met with Winston to have a peek into how Jolly Good Code intends on breeding such driven software fishermen for the future of the country:
Would you care to share what Jolly Good Code is all about and what it aims to achieve?
Jolly Good Code is a boutique software consultancy based in Singapore and we “Build Engineers & Startups”. We specialise in Agile software engineering using Ruby, the programming language. We help entrepreneurs with a startup idea but without a tech team to build a “Minimal Viable Product” in the shortest time possible. We understand that as a startup, it is of paramount importance that they go to market as quickly as possible to validate their hypothesis, so we work very closely with our clients to help them turn dreams into reality.
We don’t stop at that. Once our clients have validated their product and begin hiring, we help them with the interview process and training of their new recruits while transitioning the work to be done in-house. At the same time, we impart all the processes and best practices that we employ in our course of work to the new tech team so that they can continue the development sustainably and independently.
That is our usual setup. Sometimes, we also have corporate clients who engage us to hold classroom trainings for their staff to kickstart their learning in Ruby.
On the side, we develop small products of our own, mostly focused on raising developer productivity.
Ultimately, I want Jolly Good Code to spread the joy and fulfillment in software engineering as a career.
You have a multitude of skills from all your work, which includes also a stint at MediaCorp’s YES 933. Why did you choose to start Jolly Good Code instead of taking your varied expertise to a large agency?
Being at MediaCorp’s YES 933 was a part-time hobby that went on for about 5 years, and it happened almost right after I graduated from NUS. I have always enjoyed speaking, especially in Mandarin, so it was a dream come true to be able to do weekend shows on the most popular Chinese station in town.
My first job was actually with IBM, in which I was outsourced to Singapore Airlines as a Database Engineer. I was there for about 1.5 years before I joined the startup industry in a local startup doing travel search. Because I had felt a little stifled like a cog in a big machine, I relished the chance to be able to learn and do more.
My final phase before I felt ready to stretch my wings was in a San Francisco-based software consultancy known as Pivotal Labs, who opened a branch office in Singapore. What I learned from the people and culture was incredible, as San Francisco is a place where great engineering happens.
I then realized that many Singapore startups don’t have the privilege of being exposed to such a culture, and I really wanted to do more with what I knew and help others achieve their dreams. The best way I knew how to do this was to be my own boss.
So, that’s how Jolly Good Code came about. With Jolly Good Code, I could decide whether I should focus more on training, consultation, or building a vibrant Ruby community.
What was your motivation behind wanting to do your own Ruby training? Did you maybe feel like the existing resources out there are not doing good enough?
There are plenty of online resources available that are pretty good. I started learning Ruby myself through books and such online material. However, many learners also prefer to join a class with an instructor and peer for more engaging learning. This is the feedback I’ve received from many of my students who have tried both, as it’s always better with someone explaining the concepts face-to-face and answering any questions directly.
Personally, I’ve been doing Ruby development for about 8 years now and the experience makes for great stories and lessons to be shared in my trainings. This is how I believe my training stands out from the existing resources out there, and is also how I see myself achieving my goal of spreading my knowledge.
I also like to teach and talk. The joy I get when I see my students enlightened by what I say is indescribable.
How do you plan to sustain and grow Jolly Good Code?
Right now, we are comfortable as a boutique shop with three employees, but within a year, we plan to collaborate more with partners in the industry at a sustainable pace. There hasn’t been anything concrete discussed yet, though.
What is the best advice you have for someone just starting out his or her business?
Learn to say “no”. That’s the hardest thing to do, and sometimes I still struggle with it. But there are a lot of times when that is essential in protecting yourself. It could be a trivial situation, but it may also escalate into a situation that compromises your principles.
Besides that, I would say that focus and passion are important in keeping you alive and progressing forward amidst the uncertainty of starting a business.
When you hear the Canon slogan Think Big, how do you relate it to your life today?
It’s good to have ideas, but it’s more important to put them into action.
Personally, I feel really lucky to be where I am right now but I believe that there’s more that I can do to contribute back to the society. Technology empowers people and is crucial for us to move forward as a country, so I am focused on growing the Ruby community in Singapore.
How has the Canon imageCLASS MF8580Cdw affected your business operations? Who would you advise to get this particular printer?
Before using the Canon imageCLASS MF8580Cdw, I never knew that work could be so productive. Printing quality-coloured training materials quickly has always been a huge concern of mine. Now that I have the imageCLASS MF8580Cdw, such bulk printing is a breeze as I can save paper with duplex printing as well as initiate printing remotely on my mobile phone. Also, I rarely even need to think about changing the toners. Anyone who needs something fast, sturdy, and of reliable quality definitely should consider getting this printer to help with his or her work.
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