Part 5. Career programmer. Middle. The crisis. First release

    Continuation of the story "Career programmer . "

    2008 year . The global economic crisis. It would seem, what does a lone freelancer from a deep province have to do with it? It turned out that even small businesses and startups in the West also became impoverished. And these were my immediate and potential customers. To everything else, I finally defended a specialist diploma at the university and I had no choice but to freelance - I had no choice. To the heap, I broke up with my first client, who brought a steady income. And after him, my relationship with a potentially future wife also collapsed. Everything is like in that joke.
    The “black line” has come, at that moment, when the time of opportunities and growth should have come. It is time when ambitious young people are eager to build a career and plow for five, instantly receiving an increase. I had the opposite.

    One on one, with the oDesk freelance service and rare orders, my life went on. I still lived with my parents, although I could afford to live separately. But I didn’t like living alone. Therefore, mother's borscht and papa hundred hundred grams, brightened up gray everyday life.
    Once, never, I met with old friends from the university, talk for life, and share news. SKS company from the third partpivot made this story and migrated to freelance. Now, Ilon and Alain, as well as me, were sitting in the pants of a computer house, raising money for subsistence. This is how we lived: without goals, prospects and opportunities. Everything was rebelling inside me, I categorically disagreed with what was happening. It was a system error in my head.

    The first attempt to change something was a large-scale web service.

    Namely - a social network for job search and networking. In short - LinkedIn for Runet. Of course, I did not know about LinkedIn, but there were no analogues in Runet. Just before my "Los Angeles" came fashion on VKontakte. And finding a job was very difficult. And normal sites on this topic were not in sight. Therefore, the idea was sound, and when I first came to the “gym”, I hung pancakes of 50 kilograms on both sides of the bar. In other words: having no idea what the IT business and its construction is, Ilon and I started sawing LinkedIn for Runet.

    Of course, the implementation flaunted. I was able mainly only for desktop on C ++ / Delphi. Ilon was just starting to take the first steps in web development. So I made a site layout on Delphi and outsourced it. Having paid $ 700 for the development of LinkedIn, I had no idea what to do next. At that time, there was something like this belief: we’ll make a website, put it on the Internet and start earning.
    Only we did not take into account that between these three events, as well as in the process of them, a whole million different little things happen. And also the site lying on the Internet turns out to not earn by itself.


    I clung to my first client Andy for a long time, with whom we worked together for more than a year. But, as I wrote in the last part, Andy decided to quietly close the contract while I was on vacation. And on arrival, he began to twist the ropes and pay a teaspoon per month.
    Initially, he raised my rate on oDesk'e to $ 19 / hour, which at that time was above average. Such seasoned freelancers as Samvel (the person who brought me to freelance) had a rate of $ 22 / hour, and were the first in the search issue of clothes. This high bid turned against me when looking for the next order.

    Despite everything, I had to write to Andy that I would be looking for another client. This format of cooperation does not suit me: “Fix dozens of bugs and add features for a 5 times lower price list.” And it was not so much the matter of money, but the fact that the tale of a large investor, with a bag of money over his shoulder, turned into a pumpkin. The project was not needed by the market, or, more likely, Andy was not able to sell it where needed. Collect at least the first users, etc.

    Realizing that it was time to look for a new order, I darted to send out applications for posts about work. The first two orders, after Andy - I successfully failed. Accustomed to the fact that you can work as much as you like, and at the end of the week there will be a round sum on the account - I was not very pleased with the prospect of starting all over again. Namely, to take a small fixed-price project -> to gain the trust of the customer -> to switch to a more adequate payment. Therefore, in step two or three - I broke off. Either laziness was on the confidence to work, or the client did not want to pay the settled $ 19 rate for me. It broke me from the thought of lowering the rate to $ 12 / hour or even less. But there was no other way. There was practically no demand in my desktop software niche. Plus the crisis.

    A few words about oDesk'e those years (2008-2012)

    Imperceptibly, like a bolt from the blue, the exchange began to fill the inhabitants of tea republics and other Asians. Namely: India, Philippines, China, Bangladesh. Less commonly, Central Asia: Iran, Iraq, Qatar, etc. It was some kind of StarCraft Zerg invasion, with rush tactics. One India, each year graduated and graduates 1.5 million students of IT specialties. I repeat once again: one and a half million Indians! And of course, few of these graduates immediately find work in the community. And then there’s such a ball. Register on oDesk and get twice as much as in your Bangalore.

    On the other hand, another major event happened - the first iPhone came out. And enterprising Americans, immediately dawned on what you can do a quick cache.
    Of course, having launched on the empty and fast-growing market its application for iPhone for 3 copecks. Curved, slanting, without design - it rolled through everything.
    Therefore, with the release of the first iPhone 2G on oDesk, an additional Mobile Development category immediately appeared, which was simply inundated with requests to create an application for the iPhone.

    Getting this device and Mac was a difficult task for me. In our country, few people had these gadgets, and in the provinces they could only hear about the existence of this miracle of technology. But as an alternative, over time I bought HTC Desire based on Android 2.3 and learned to cut applications for it. What subsequently came in handy.

    But not the point. My main skill was still C ++. Seeing that there are fewer orders for C ++, and more and more ads appearing in C # .NET, I slowly crawled to the Microsoft technology stack. To do this, I needed the book “C # Tutorial” and one small project in this programming language. Since then I have been sitting mostly on the sharpe, not twitching anywhere.

    Next came major projects in C ++ and Java, but I always preferred C #, since I consider it the most convenient, and more recently, a universal language for any tasks in my niche.

    oDesk in February 2008 (from webarchive)

    First big release

    It so often happens that if you are an outsourced or freelance developer, you may never see how your program is used in real life. I must admit that out of more than 60 projects that I completed on freelance, I saw them on sale from strength 10. But I never saw how other people use my creation. Therefore, having passed the depressing years 2008-2010, when there were almost no orders, I took the bull by the horns in the 2011th year.

    Although I didn’t need to work and earn constantly. There was housing, there was food. I sold the car as unnecessary. Where should I go to a freelancer? That is, I also had money for any entertainment. It may seem that this tunnel thinking is either working or having fun. But at that moment - we did not know another. We did not know that it is possible to live differently: to travel, develop, create our own projects. And in general - the world is limited only by your consciousness. This understanding came a little later, when the lower 4 levels of the Maslow pyramid were satisfied.

    Maslow was right.

    But before, you had to take a step back. Having been a bit over a couple of years on small projects, I decided to lower the rate to $ 11 / hour, and find something long-term.
    Maybe there was a bigger figure in the profile, but I definitely remember that spring evening when Kaiser knocked on my Skype.

    Kaiser was the owner of a small antivirus company in Europe. He himself lived in Austria, and the team was scattered around the world. In Russia, Ukraine, India. CTO was seated in Germany, and skillfully followed the process, although he rather pretended to be watching. By the way, at the beginning of the 2000s, Kaiser was given a state award for an innovative contribution to the development of small business. His idea of ​​building a team entirely of remote employees was truly unusual in the early 2000s.

    Our man, what will he think? - “Yes, this is some scam,” most likely will be his first thought. However, no, Kaiser's company has been kept afloat for more than 6 years and has managed to compete with such giants as ESET, Kaspersky, Avast, McAfee and others.
    At the same time, the company's turnover was only half a million euros per year. Everything rested on the Holy Spirit and faith in a brighter future. Kaiser could not pay more than $ 11 / hour, but allocated a limit of 50 hours a week, which I had enough to start.
    It should also be noted that the CEO did not put pressure on anyone, and made an impression of a kind uncle giving out gifts. You can’t say the same about CTO, which I met a little later. And work more tightly at the time of release at night.

    So, I started to work remotely in an antivirus company. My task was to rewrite the back-end antivirus that was used in most of the company's products. (Technical details you can find in this post ).
    Then my first post in the Habr's sandbox was born , about the charms and advantages of C ++, which still hangs in second place in the hub of the same name.

    Of course, it’s not the tool itself that is to blame, but the drug addict who wrote the last antivirus engine. It crashed, was buggy, was multithreaded for the whole head and did not lend itself well to testing. Not only did you need to install a bunch of viruses for the test on your machine, but the antivirus should also not fall.

    But little by little, I began to get involved in this development. Although it was not clear, since I was making an isolated component that other programs use. Technically, this is a DLL library with a list of exported functions. How other programs will use them - no one explained to me. Therefore, he reversed everything himself.

    This went on for almost a year, until the roasted cock pecked CTO and we began to prepare for the release. Often this preparation took place at night. The program worked on my machine, but not on its side. Then it turned out that he had an SSD-drive (a rarity for those times), and my fast scanning algorithm fills all the memory due to the fast reading of files.

    In the end, we became full, and my scanner was installed on tens of thousands of machines around the world. It was an indescribable feeling, as if you had done something significant. He brought something useful to this world. Money will never replace this emotion.
    As far as I know, my engine works in this antivirus to this day. And as a legacy, I left the reference code created according to all the recommendations from the books "Perfect Code", "Refactoring" and the series of books "C ++ for Professionals".


    One famous book says: “The darkest hour is before dawn.” It happened to me in those days. From complete despair in the year 2008, to the founding of his IT company in the year 2012. In addition to Kaiser, who consistently brought in $ 500 / week, I got myself another client from the States.

    It was difficult to refuse him, since he offered as much as $ 22 / hour for a rather interesting job. Again, my goal was to accumulate more start-up capital and invest - either in real estate, or in my own business. Therefore, incomes grew, goals were set and there was motivation to move.

    Having finished the Kaiser project and braking with another project, I began to prepare for the launch of my startup. In my account I had about $ 25k, which was enough to create a prototype and search for additional investments.

    In those years, there was real hysteria around startups in Russia, Ukraine, and around the world. It created the illusion that you can quickly get rich by cutting some innovative thing. Therefore, I began to move in this direction, study profile blogs, get to know people from the party.

    So I met Sasha Peganov, through the Zuckerberg Call site (which is now ), who then introduced me to VKontakte co-founder and investor. I recruited a team, moved to the capital and began to create a prototype at my own expense, for further investments. What I will describe in detail in the next part.

    Part 6. Startup >>

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