I'm Jef Van den broeck, I've quit my job and started codewerken to work on my own projects, and to help you work on yours.
I have spent many years designing and implementing technical software, going from embedded software to general network and systems programming, to backend server code. Next to this I've set up a lot of infrastructure à la devops, from build machines to high-availability servers. I've taken many projects from idea to production, both in a startup and a larger corporation. In the later years either as a teamlead or a senior developer especially, I've always been pulling the cart, and rarely if never on it.
I am a white raven combining expertise in several fields together with a good view of why things are happening and the coordinational skill to get a team there.
While I'm currently working on my own things, I can certainly help with your problems. I have a large sympathy for startups as well.
I'm from Antwerp, Belgium and focus on that area, but we can talk distances.
when things get technical
I focus on prototype development, the initial implementation of new ideas. I combine a good understanding of why they exist and how they are used, and strong full-stack skills to deliver a solid product whilst saving on resources.
I enjoy helping startups to get their technical side up and running and can offer solid advice on both infrastructure and team setup, to develop good habits from the start, stay clear of technical debt and do more with less. I've been there!
Are you building the best product you can? I can perform reviews of your architecture and designs, bringing honest opinions and hard-earned insights which might prove to be very beneficial for your product.
Are you building your product in the best way possible? If you feel your team's day to day workflow could be improved, I can provide an experienced point of view which might bring harmony back to your workflow and the output up to speed.
Having some 3d printers available, I can offer not only software prototypes but physical ones as well! Also happy to help local businesses and individuals with these machines!
Have an idea which you'd like to see realized? A solution you'd like to quickly verify? Whether you're a startup or an existing organization, I can help you with that.
I know how to build prototypes quickly using solid simple building blocks as per your particular requirements. With industry best practices, so you can wow your investors. On scalable infrastructure, so you can survive the first rush of users. With metrics, so you can find out exactly how those users actually use it. Modular, so you can use it as a template and swap out components with newer iterations later on.
Furthermore, a prototype is no mere collection of files on a drive platter. It's running on infrastructure which is ready to evolve with it. It's accompanied by the type of documentation which is actually usable afterwards.
I've come to understand the nature of the prototype beast well. I know where to focus on details which could otherwise restrict future functionality, and which questions can be postponed until that future is clearer. And, which 20% of work yields the 80% of results.
Might your requirements carry beyond my specializations, I have the fortune of knowing some excellent people in the industry who might be able to be of assistance.
You're starting your own company! That's great, I can relate! I can do a lot more than prototype development and reviews of architecture for you. The next months will define much of your company's DNA. The best time to pick up good habits is right now. I've been there and I can help you a lot with this, solid advice and help on how to get organized and build up the technical part of your company, and work with you so that you hit the ground running with in the right way.
You're working frantically on your product, perhaps already having hired more people to work on it with you. You feel you need some workflow to coordinate all of this. No weighty procedures, but simple conventions which give all involved a clear view of where you are, where you need to go and how to get there. I can help you with both: how to assemble a good team and how to set up a workflow in which everyone is happy to deliver the best output possible.
The same goes for infrastructure. Whether you're building an app, a site or anything digital at all, you'll need your development landscape to be flexible, solid, and otherwise to stay out of your way. Code repos, separated environments, rollout tools, backups, even monitoring and redundancy. Everything what they mean by "best practices". There are some very good habits and very neat things I can show you here which will keep your team's focus on your product and will save you a lot of hassle now and in the future. I'm a big proponent of Open Source tools, and in an age of virtualization and the cloud, we can be more frugal than ever. In the end, I want to help you walk into the VC/client's meeting room for the Big Demo knowing it will work, not hoping it will work.
Are you building the best product you can?
For a variety of reasons you might need a review of an existing solution. Perhaps you want a second opinion on an architecture you're about to implement, or a sanity check on a codebase you're about to acquire. A new set of eyes with an experienced and neutral point of view.
Even a few hours of my time might very well be worth it. Perhaps I can spot some holes which would be much more costly to fill in during implementation. Perhaps I can point out some existing alternative building blocks, saving you weeks of time. Highlight points where a different approach will yield a much more flexible and re-usable system. Suggest modularization, so the impact on the system of future requirements can be kept to a minimum. This is a real thing, a few small changes in your plans might mitigate such unknown variables without breaking functionality.
Are you building your product in the best way possible?
You have a great team following your methodology of choice with excellent results. Still, you wonder if it couldn't be optimized. For example, the output is top-notch, but the builds aren't fully deterministic and you worry it'll be painful to one day deliver an old version. The high pace keeps key people from properly dissipating knowledge to both current and future colleagues, often to their own dismay. Furthermore, they perform operations like deployments smoothly ... but only they know their stuff, not because the actual mechanisms are simple and leave no room for error. Operations which could well be automated, so anyone can perform them.
Or, you might be noticing systematic problems. The delivered code is not as good as it could be. Issues long fixed keep propping up. Development is too slow, or maybe too fast for QA to catch up. Rollouts have become stressful events, rollbacks not even an option. Frustration grows in all parties involved, but everyone is too busy chasing the problems to find the cause.
I can offer an honest appraisal which might point out any pressure points, as well as technical tools and tactics which can help the situation back on track and let the developers focus on the code again.
On a tangent, I also have a few 3d printers available for actual physical prototyping as well. Demo your product to the investors in something not involving hot glue and tape! Try that new button layout before ordering a costly mold based on a computer simulation!
These machines are also available to help out local businesses and individuals. Need a temporary replacement of some part of your critical machine while the real part is on backorder? Invented a really cool thing which you'd like to see in actual plastic? Want a model of your next house printed? Shoot me a mail!