Chris wanted to move back to the Dominican Republic, but jobs for programmers there did not have decent wages back in 2004. He thought, “Hey, I can just start my own programming company…”
But his boss shot down his idea quickly. After a shift in hierarchy in his workplace, Chris began working for a new boss that thought Chris’ idea had potential – in his own words, he said, “Let’s give it a try.” At that point, in 2006, this second boss gave Chris a small project, which Chris sent to a freelance programmer in the D.R. When that project went well, his boss continued to hand over more and bigger projects, which Chris in turn would hand over to more freelance developers in the D.R.
Chris never saw himself as a business man, nor did he ever have a vision for the future – things simply evolved. Chris observed and took note of what was working and what was not with the programmers in the D.R., all while continuing to work in New York.
Eventually, Chris ran into issues with the freelancers, who in time became irresponsible and for whom Chris would need to pick up the slack. In 2007, he decided to round up the three developers he had worked with up to that point, rent an apartment in Santiago and have them work from there.
Three developers grew to six by 2008.
One of the programmers mentioned to Chris in passing that he had plans to emigrate to Canada, but since he had started working for Chris’ company he had changed his plans and stayed. Chris was surprised and asked, “What company?”
Chris still saw himself as more of a developer than a CEO, a role he realized he had to grow into if indeed he was going to have a company. The biggest struggle he faced was his inexperience as a manager, and in his wavering efforts to create the right environment for his employees, several developers left in the face of some of Chris’ larger mistakes.
Amongst all of the management flops and mishaps (there was one point in 2008 where Chris literally fired every developer that was not willing to work according to some basic guidelines, which was all except one), one of the aspects of the company that Chris is proud of is how organization emerged from the chaos.
Despite his realization that he had to become a manager of people and not just be a developer anymore, he strived (and still does) for zero hierarchy and no defined roles. He studied how top organizations worked, including Toyota and Google; looked into different methodologies, ranging from Agile to Speed of Trust; and aspired to inspire a self-organizing culture among his employees.