← Back home
After 3 years at Hygraph I took a year into Fintech/HRTech to join the team at Lano. Turns out a big part of me was too attached to the entire developer tooling ecosystem, particularly in the Headless CMS / Content API space, (heck, the Developer Marketing Community is a big testimony to that), so it wasn’t a surprise to me that I was longing to get back into the space again. However, DatoCMS was a considerable change in the usual company setup I was used to, but there’s a 3 key points that drove my decision against some of the others on the table.
Bootstrapped and profitable
Most of my career was built on working in high-growth environments in VC-backed companies.
ZenMate was a Series A company in the B2C/B2B cybersecurity space where growth was ambitious and the team scaled up until an M&A by KAPE. GraphCMS was a Series B company with an incredibly great product, growing to 70~ people where the teams were structured and well-oiled at the time of leaving. Lano was a scaleup focusing on innovating new products in the Fintech/Payroll space.
In each of these companies I learned an incredible amount of SEO, Content, PMM, CRM, Paid Marketing, Strategy, GTM, Product, and so much more - making me a full-stack marketer who could jump in and out of context as needed. However, the one aspect that irked me was “chasing growth at all costs” combined with external influences of VCs and Enterprise customers that led to ad-hoc changes in roadmaps and strategies. I wanted to experience the other side of the story by joining a smaller team that had complete in-house control on what they wanted to build, and were successful in doing so.
DatoCMS was just this - a product and team that I’d admired for years, a fully bootstrapped and profitable business focusing on the SMEs and users rather than chasing big brand logos, a small team of highly competent and capable people with an obsession for the product experience, and no external pressure from customers or investors to steer the direction of the company.
There’s a few 36Signals manifestos I’ve always admired, and they do a much better job of explaining some of my reasonings for this better than I ever could:
- An obligation to independence,
- Small Teams,
- Profit Motive,
- The Fortune 5,000,000,
- Bury the Hustle, and
Those were particularly important to me given I wanted to finally venture into building my own product on the side, one that I wanted to bootstrap and grow sustainably with a small but relevant userbase.
Which brings me to point 2.
Time to work on my own product
Throughout my career I’ve always missed a hybrid combination of a collaborative bookmark manager + reference manager + swipe file + documentation tool + context management thing which would have been great to have for projects.
I’m terrible with managing my resources, especially when I switch companies or kick off a new collaborative project, but more so, just to have a repository that’s always mine to refer to as needed. Kind of a hybrid of all the cool things I’d ever dumped into Github repos, Notion, Figma, Slack, Docs, Sheets, Airtable, and heaven knows where else.
So I decided to get a few friends together and start building Savepad - something that might help me do just that.
The team at Dato were more than happy to have colleagues chasing side-projects, so knowing that I’d have the time to also focus on building something was the cherry on top for my decision.
Which also meant that I needed to get some of my mentality back from “managing” to “doing”.
This brings me to my final reason.
Going back to being an IC / Principal Marketer
I’ve always been a big fan of the concept of a Principal Developer, and wished that the Principal Marketer role was more common in commercial teams.
Aside from all the skills and experience I picked up at the previous companies, they also gave me incredible insights into growing and managing teams, and I’ve been so incredibly proud of and humbled by all the colleagues who’ve given me the chance to lead them - apparently I wasn’t terrible at this either from some anonymous feedback rounds so I guess I wasn’t a complete shitshow at leading teams 😅
However, I did miss just “working”. Managing was great, but something I wasn’t as keen on anymore. I had to (and wanted to) trust my team to get things done, regardless of whether I’d do things differently. But I’ve had a bit of a YOLO mindset when it comes to marketing, and I did miss actually being useful and executing things. In many ways, given the size of DatoCMS, I’ve gone back to just this - being an IC with the responsibility of a leader. I get to pick and shape my own projects and execute them with complete independence and minimal back-and-forth; no lenghty kickoffs, no syncs, no catchups, no cross-department alignments - just pure work.
This should be fun.