Look South

By Dave South

Our cover is blown

For several years, Loy and I have worked under the company name of Apped Design. It was a cover name Loy came up with when we attended the first Mountain West Ruby Conference in 2007. The Neotribune was on the back burner and we were working on a couple of Ruby on Rails projects. We decided that it would be easier to go as independent consultants than try to explain a long, convoluted startup story no would be interested in anyway.

The conference was fantastic. One of the best I’ve ever attended. We connected with Ruby programmers from all over Utah. We also met a group from Logan with whom we later formed the Logan Ruby Users Group.

Independent consultants

As for our cover, well, it didn’t work as well as I thought it would. Normally if you go to a conference and say you are an independent consultant, people treat you like some kind of leper. Faster than you can say unclean they stop asking about you and start talking about something else — anything else.

This is how it’s been at every non-programming conference I’ve ever attended. But at the Ruby conference, we were offered a job or two. It should have been a warning.

Two months later we were at Railsconf 2007 in Portland. In one of our first conversations our cover was blown, again.

“Hello, we’re from Apped Design.”

“Oh, what does your company do?”

“We’re independent software consultants.”

Now I expected to see glazed eyes, a little uncomfortable shift of their feet, and a change of subject. But that’s not what happened.

“Really? Do you have enough work? We’ve got this big project and could really use an extra hand.”


Talk about a programmers market. We could have left Railsconf with a dozen job leads.

When the two young ladies from Google suggested we apply for a job, I gave up. It was better to tell people we were in a startup.

“We are doing a startup.”

“Really! So are we? Do you have some free time to help us?”

P.S. For the record, I think the ladies from Google talked to every single developer about applying to Google. Heck, if they didn’t talk to you, you must have said something really scary like, “I’m in marketing.”