New to Differential. New to Meteor.

by Sean McCosh

I just finished my second week as a new member of the Differential team.  As anyone who has started in a new role at a new company knows, the first few days are both challenging and exhilarating, because everyone seems to be working at a faster pace than you, while you're on a steep learning curve and just trying to get in the flow.  But after 10+ years helping build another great tech/media business, and starting to feel a little too comfortable at my previous company, this steep learning curve is exactly what I needed, and Differential is the perfect place to do it. Great company.  Smart people.  Moving fast.

So, when I'm "the new guy", I tend to ask a lot of questions. And as a non-technical person with a marketing, innovation and business development background, I first wanted to learn more about our business, from a developers perspective. So I scheduled time with several of our developers during the first week - both to get to know them better personally, and also to get answers to a couple of important questions. While all the developers I spoke with shared unique insights and perspective, there were definitely consistent themes that emerged to the two key questions I was really seeking answers to, which included:

1. Why do clients like working with Differential and why are they seeking us out?

2. Why do YOU like working in Meteor, and what benefits does it offer?

Here's what they said.

First...Why do clients like working with Differential?

(Here's what I heard, fairly unfiltered and straight from the developers' mouths).

  • We’re at the forefront of the technology spectrum with Meteor. People that know what Meteor is are seeking us out because we jumped on it early and have more experience with it than just about anyone. It's fun being this small studio in Cincinnati and having people from "The Valley" looking to us for technical help and advice. We're really leading.
  • Even though we work with companies of all sizes, people like that we have startup roots ourselves. We're able to use that experience to help startups get going fast, but also for corporate innovation clients. The process is the same, and the process works.  
  • I like that clients say "what do you think?" and leverage our ideas. They want to collaborate to make their product the best. And I think we add a ton of value in that process - so at the end of the day they end up with a great product.
  • Clients get to talk to the people who are building the product. Our developers work directly with you, so we become a team and it makes communication clearer and more efficient.
  • Our team is really good at communicating technical and complex problems clearly, to people who have never dealt with those things.
  • We understand the tradeoffs that need to be made at different budget levels, and we architect things in such a way that makes future expansion and scalability easier.
  • Our preference is to really take ownership over projects, and we only work on ideas we believe are meaningful. So we get really personally invested in the products and want to make sure they turn out great.
  • The entrepreneurial mindset - we know startups and startup culture, so we can be more of a partner. Plus, being in the Midwest, we can give you more runway.
  • We are really strong at UX (user experience) and our team brings great ideas and great design to the table.
  • Most of our clients are really excited about their project and doing it to make a difference in other people’s lives…not just for themselves. So we're aligned there and it makes projects more fun and more meaningful.

Being the new guy, answers like these were pretty encouraging and helped confirm that joining Differential was the right choice. We’ve got good people who are motivated to do meaningful work.

Now, on to my next Question for the Devs...Why do YOU like working in Meteor, and what benefits does it offer? (again, here is what they had to say).

  • Meteor simplifies a lot of the (development) processes. A typical modern application is going to have two apps. One on the server and one on the browser. Meteor is a paradigm shift - since you’re just writing one app. It is truly one language in both sides.
  • You can write code one time and it works in both environments - which means less code.  Less Code = Less Bugs - so it offers both a quality benefit and a speed benefit.
  • It is faster to develop in. So we can get more done faster, and it saves time and money for clients. I can get more done in the same amount of time than I used to be able to using other platforms.
  • Meteor apps are also faster for the end user. It helps us build high performance apps that update in real time.
  • The stack is pretty powerful. For example, using Meteor + Cordova + Polymer for mobile, you can create great looking apps that feel native and update in real time across different devices, screens and OS’s.
  • Flexibility is big. Using Meteor with Mobile Cordova Integration allows us to write mobile applications that run on multiple platforms, as well as the web, all from one code base. So minor bug fixes often don't require a separate submission to the app store. This helps us offer faster iteration and updates.
  • Most programmers simply enjoy working it Meteor. It is an elegant solution, which makes it more satisfying to work with. This also helps us recruit great devs to join the team.

So you can see the patterns here, right? When I distilled it all down, it was clear that our developers (and our clients) love Meteor because it is fast (for developers, and for end users), flexible (because one code base works across multiple platforms and device types) and it helps build higher quality, more elegantly coded apps (because less code = less bugs).

Like I said at the top, I just finished week two at Differential and I am learning a lot. I'll continue to share more insights in future posts, as I uncover new information. But for now, I'm just excited to be part of the Differential team. Great company. Smart people. Moving fast.  

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