Before founding Tractical, I worked in at least 5 other places as a Software Engineer. All of them had either a lack of leadership, culture or work ethics. I quit all of them. Disappointed clients, poor quality work, undervalued employees and awful workplaces were things that pulled me away of them. I felt really frustrated because while I was sure about my passion for creating Software, I just couldn’t find myself a good work environment which would make honor to such passion, and there’s where the story begins.
On late 2010 I started Tractical out of nothing. I knew of a lot of things I shouldn’t do, but a few I should. I set three priorities in mind 1) first-class quality work for clients 2) first-class work environment for employees and 3) transparency for everyone. While sort of a cliche, I thought these three things, if done right, would eventually lift up everything else. They did. I wanted to keep it all simple. I wanted quality over quantity. I wanted to build a business that were optimized for happiness and that’s what I strived for since the early days.
After ran the first projects we narrowed down our ideal client profile: Startups. On early 2012 we started traveling to Silicon Valley once a year and made important connections which gave us the more challenging projects we’ve ever worked on. We kicked the beehive and it was impressive. We got a nice office in Monterrey with great location and equipment. In a timespan of three years, Tractical positioned as one of the top 5 non-enterprise shops in Mexico and every year doubled previous incomes even though it never went beyond 5 team members. It was fun and weird at the same time.
We gave away time, knowledge and helped supporting the local community growth. We experimented and learned a lot. We got in trouble. Tractical became that place where people wanted to work in because of its culture, style and portfolio. The same thing attracted clients that wanted us to bring his idea to life. I can’t be more grateful for having the opportunity of being exposed to such a plethora of experiences that I never imagined. And for having known the best people I’ve worked with, ever.
Everything has tradeoffs and this all was holding me back from my core passion. It started to worrying me. I guess this is the inevitable path for any CEO as a company grows but I’m just not able to pay that price. I focused on scaling Tractical doing a correlation of experience and rates and it worked well until hitting the top. I use to be always kicking the ball forward and the next thing to do was scaling in people. That fact made me re-evaluate the whole thing. More people means more sales, less cherry-picked clients, more office space, more recruiting and training effort – more non-technical duties for me.
For the first time in 3 years and a half, I looked back and asked myself: is this what you want to be in charge of in the next 3 years? Surprisingly, it wasn’t. We all gotta learn to know when to quit and when to stick. After several attempts I realized I couldn’t reach the level I wanted as a Software Engineer and being in charge of such responsibilities at the same time. Now they seem like dead weight to me. Software Engineering career is deep enough, it’s immense. I rather focus on it. I started picturing myself not being a CEO anymore, but a CTO—a specialist, not a generalist.
What’s next for me
I really don’t know what’s next and I love that feeling. Freedom and willingness. Tractical already started a wind down period in one of its best moments of all times, now I’ll quit consulting. For my next venture I want to focus on one single thing beyond short-term. Because I trust more in union than in individuality, I don’t want to start something from scratch by myself, I’d rather join something that I truly believe in and would need me to step things up. I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room. I want to do something more meaningful instead of just being complaining about how shitty things are. I want to push myself to the limits while being surrounded by people doing the same.
Thanks to all the people who always trusted us, I like to think this is just the beginning. Life is damn good.