I had been working at AND Digital for 18 months. A few weeks back I handed in my notice, and Friday 7th August was my last day.
Working at AND was the ideal ‘first proper’ job after uni. I was referred after meeting an employee at a Startup Weekend. He sold me on the AND lifestyle — the friendly, relaxed vibe really appealed to me.
I also loved that I could join as an associate and not have to commit to a developer role —I have a computer science degree, but never wanted to ‘be a coder.’
(At AND, I was fortunate that my roles were so varied. I was able to try a bit of web dev right at the start, I did a bit of analyst work, some looking at SEO, working in product delivery doing a scrum master role, and a LOT of ux / product management / design work. So much variety in such a short time!)
While working at AND, I got to work for some incredible clients: I worked on multiple parts of Avios, the airline loyalty scheme; the James May driving theory app that just launched; Subway; and various secret startups that I can’t yet talk about, but which are set to make travelling in a post-COVID world a lot more safe.
I also got to meet some amazing people.
AND has a unique model where, despite being a 500+ person company, you really get to know your coworkers by virtue of the company being broken down into independent and semi-autonomous ‘Clubs.’
(I recently found out that the max size of a club, ~80 people, was based on Dunbar’s number, the supposed upper bound of how many functioning social relationships human’s can maintain.)
One of the people who really shaped my path was my development coach. She’s now a UX Lead at AND, and taught me so, so much about user experience as a discipline. The trajectory of the work I was doing before I left, and the work I’ll go on to do for the rest of my career, is all a direct consequence of her guidance.
So! It all sounds like it was going great! So why did I choose to leave?
Choosing to leave was a really hard decision. On top of that, I was leaving during a global pandemic, and moreover it’s been a really tough year for personal reasons.
But I reasoned (with the advice of lots of friends, family and mentors…) that starting a startup is something that I may not have the freedom to do later on. Right now I have so few commitments in terms of family / a mortgage / dependents, so the risk/reward balance feels right.
If not now, then when?
I also was tempted to explore part-time or split-working options, but the advice of my former squad lead was to fully commit. If not, I wouldn’t have ‘skin in the game.’ Being 100% full-time on the new startup gives it the best chance of success.
My co-founder has already been successful in other industries, and I was honoured that he shared his idea with me and asked me to join him as a founder. The idea is really simple, but it’s something that I really think has the power to change the world for the better. We’ve been working hard for the last two weeks, refining the concept, honing it down to its minimum viable version, and it’s now in an amazing place. I genuinely believe it’s going to turn into something incredible.
Dream big, start small… have it all.
Unfortunately, I can’t say anything about the new company just yet. But knowing me, there’d probably be a landing page parked on a dumb domain name like paavansecretproject.com, where you could sign up to be one of the very first beta testers. You know, if you were interested in that sort of thing.
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