From Excel to Sublime - My Journey From I-Banking Analyst to Product At SeatGeek
Last December I quit my job as an i-banking analyst to get involved in the startup world. This December I started a new job doing Product for SeatGeek, a ticket search engine that aggregates tickets listings for live sports, concert, and theater events. I split my time between coding, designing, and product management, three aspects of development that I’ve fallen in love with over the past year — I couldn’t have asked for a better position. Below is how I got from point A to point B.
Moved to NYC (1/15/13)
I moved into an apt with my brother and his friend, spending my days learning to code and meeting as many people as possible. The later entailed lots of Colombe Coffee, The Grey Dog, and a ton of different meetups. I was lucky enough to go to the first ever Code Crew NY meetup — which to this day is still one of my favorite NYC startup groups.
Started Learning Objective-C (Jan — mid Feb)
I had been working on a mobile app since the Summer of 2012. As a non-technical cofounder, I was eager to learn the language of iPhone apps and be able to contribute to the app’s codebase.
Created a landing page for Flock (February)
After finishing an Objective-C book (and still not being close to a position to meaningfully contribute to the app’s codebase), I switched gears to start learning HTML, CSS, and JS to create a landing page for the app.
Switched my Focus to Ruby on Rails (March)
The mobile app landing page gave me my first exposure to Ruby on Rails (yeah, i know, it was way overkill). I loved how quickly I was able to build simple sites from start to finish and deploy it via Heroku for the world to see. I switched gears from Objective-C to Ruby on Rails and began the Michael Hartl Ruby on Rails Tutorial, an awesome tutorial that I highly recommend to anyone interested in learning web development. It walks you step-by-step through creating a Twitter-like web app.
Applied to Coding Bootcamps (March)
I was enjoying learning to code on my own, but decided it’d be helpful and more fun to learn in a collaborative environment. After doing some research I ended up applying to the Flatiron School and General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive program.
Started Working on a Date Design Site (April)
After finishing the Michael Hartl tutorial, I wanted to practice my newly acquired Ruby on Rails skills with a real application. One of my best friends had an idea for a website to create personalized date plans in NYC. I loved the idea and started building the website. There was lots of banging my head against the wall (still is), but in the end I created a fully functioning app that integrates with Facebook, Foursquare, Stripe (for payments), and Google Maps.
Participated in the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon (4/27/13)
At the last minute, I decided to participate in the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon. I joined a team with 1 other backend developer and several frontend developers. In less than 24 hours we built a prototype for a marketplace to help connect meetup organizers with venues. We presented our app on the main stage and were featured in a TechCrunch article!
Launched my Personal Website (5/22/13)
I loved how quickly I was able to launch the landing page for my app, and decided it’d be fun to create a custom personal homepage. I came up with the idea Sunday night, and was able to launch it by Wednesday morning. I posted it on HN, where it hit #2 in the charts, driving over 12,000 views from 100+ countries. Update: Since then, I've launched an updated homepage with a new design.
First day at The Flatiron School (6/3/13)
After weighing the pros and cons between the various coding schools, I ended up deciding to go forward with the Flatiron School. In addition to hearing great things about the main instructor, Avi, I also loved their emphasis on collaboration.
Started Blogging (6/3/13)
At Flatiron, they place a big emphasis on blogging — so I started to blog! Towards the end of the semester one of my articles was featured in the leading Ruby newsletter: Ruby Weekly. Dec 2019 Update: Since then, the article has gotten 200k+ page views.
Launched Flock (6/13/13)
Almost exactly 1 year after I had the originally idea, Misha and I launched Flock: Do More With Friends, an app to help friends make casual plans. The launch wasn’t anything special, namely a blog post and a tweet. Nonetheless, it was great to finally ‘ship it.’ We didn’t get as much traction as we had hoped, but we got enough to give us great feedback to help shape the next version of the app.
Built Found (7/15/13)
A friend reached out with an idea for an ‘AirBnB for startup space and apts.’ I loved the idea. We met at his office after class one day and came up with a game plan. I was so excited that I stayed up the whole night to finish the website.
Graduated from the Flatiron School (8/23/13)
I spent the last 6 weeks at Flatiron working with 3 other guys on a CRM tool to manage the interview process at the school. I learned an incredible amount while pair programming during that time. Thanks for 6 awesome weeks Carlos, Chris, and David!
Post Graduation (August — November)
After graduation, I split my time between Flock, interviewing for full time jobs, and doing a couple freelance projects. I spent most days at coffee shops. Throughout this process I got to meet a lot of great people and some very interesting companies. While I was eager to find a full time opportunity, I was happy working on Flock and knew that it’d be best to wait for the right opportunity and not rush into anything.
Set Up an Interview with SeatGeek via AngelList (October)
I got a ton of introductions through Flatiron School, friends, and family, but the offer I ended up accepting started with an introduction through AngelList. After a casual interview over coffee, a take home project, and a full-round of interviews at the office, I received an offer for the exact type of position I was looking for. My official title is Technical Product Person, aka Product Mensch. I am part of the dev team, and split my time between coding, designing, and helping manage the development process.
First day at SeatGeek (12/3/13)
I pushed code to production on my first day. Later that week I was able to contribute to a big new feature launch and help with the submission of a new version of our iPhone app. The work is challenging, fun, and rewarding, and the people are a blast to work with. I’m extremely excited for 2014 and beyond.
If you have any questions about getting involved in the startup world, learning to code, or anything else, please don’t hesitate to reach out via twitter.