yesterday i talked about my old job. today let me introduce you to my new job.
in 2010 i was asked by my employer to modernize a dated scheduling system they used to set their school's semester course schedule. for many years this had been a fully manual process and was buckling under present-day demands. they were hoping for something that could automate and improve the existing system. initially they asked if i could just find a system that did this. happy to help i said sure.
i looked around and found a whole lot of nothing. the existing options were terrible. beyond terrible really. and when we met again in a couple of weeks i told them as much. i told them i did not find anything that i could, in good conscience, suggest they use. it may have been naive of me but i thought that was kinda the end of the story. a silence hung in the air before one of the three people in my office said, "well, that's not really an answer troy". more silence. uncertain i said i was sorry but there just wasn't anything out there. more silence. then the line would come that would change the course of many things. i said, "i mean, i guess i could try to make something to do this." there was no long pause after that comment. their one word answer was near immediate. "DONE. and let us know when you have something for us to look at."
in looking into it a bit further i learned why there were no options out there. doing what they were asking was really complicated. in the days following my offer to create a system, there may have been a panic attack or two while the reality of what i agreed to set in. inbetween panic attaacks, i contacted the best developer i had ever worked with and told him: "i need your help. i can never afford to pay your rate, but i think i have a problem you might find interesting." i guessed right and he signed on to help me though my jam.
over the next three years matthew and i developed a system that did what was asked of us and we began successfully making course schedules for my school. after we did it for a couple of years, another school learned we had this system and asked if they could use it. curious how it would fare elsewhere i agreed and set them up on the system. it worked better at their school than it did at our school. a year later this contact at the second school mentioned out software on a web forum asking about such things. over the next seven days i was contacted by twenty of our nation's two hundred law schools.
over the next few years the awereness and populartiy of our system grew. last year my directors said that even though it was generating revenue, it was taking too much of my time and said we had to get rid of it so we could get back to what we were supposed to be doing, research. so they put it up for sale. a pretty special thing about my employer i need to mention is that they had given me intellectual property rights to the technology and part of that made it so i would receive a portion of any money made by the sale of the product. like i said, pretty special. for the next six months i spoke to multiple companies around the world interested in buying our software. for a variety of reasons the companies decided not to buy it. then one day i called matthew and told him that i wasn't sure we needed these other companies. we were already successfully selling the software to universities--why don't we buy the rights to it and just sell it ourselves. and that's what we did.
while i have been able to sell and support it while doing my day job i've always wondered what might happen if i put a full-time shoulder to it. to that end, allow me to introduce you to: ofCourse Scheduling.
my friend luby gets full credit for the company name. prior to his creative wit, the system had just been referred to, since its birth, as 'the scheduler'. it may seem obvious now but a lot of cycles were spent by a lot of people in trying to come up with a better moniker. we actually had settled on one at one point and i emailed luby to tell him he could stop thinking about it as we had found a name. his reply, in part, read:
I wish i could have come up with a better list quicker. But here's my best shot and the url comes up as no server, whatever that means:
"kinda says it all" is right! my partners and i immediately became smitten with the name, threw out our prior stand-in and never looked back.
Kinda says it all.
logo design credit goes to miss tracy dorsey @ designLab
one of my employment rules has always been my new job has to be closer to my home than my last job. in the past twenty years my commutes have gone from twelve miles, to seven miles, to five miles to three miles to a half mile. i always joked that my next job would have be working out of my bed. well, it's not too far off the mark as my new office is about thirty feet from my bed.
lots of great and fun and interesting and memorable things have happened over the last six years working on this project that i could write for pages and days about. the sweetest of the crop though is that i was able to pull in two people as my business partners who played immense roles in my profesional development over the last twenty years. one of them is responsible for getting me into web development and the other got me my first work at a university. it's rare that you get to reward in meaninful ways the people who helped grow you in meaningful ways. of all the things that have happened, that easily stands as the one i'm most proud and thankful for.
and believe it or not, i love the two-windowed corner office pictured above more than my previous two-windowed corner office.