Ten years can feel like a lifetime when you’re creating a company from the spark of an idea and building it into a thriving agency with year after year of growth. This journey would not have been possible without a combination of inspiration, the right context and a whole lot of awesome humans.
Here are 10 things I’m grateful for as we celebrate Test Double’s 10th anniversary on November 15, 2021:
When we were debating taking the jump and starting this business in early October of 2011, Steve Jobs passed away from pancreatic cancer. Justin and I had both admired Jobs and his impact on technology, so it gave us both a nudge to reflect on some of the lessons he had shared and we both wound up re-watching his Stanford commencement address in 2005. The commencement covers trust, love, and faith, but more importantly the call to action that deeply resonated with me was to never waste the minutes of your life. I’m unsure if we would’ve started Test Double if Steve Jobs hadn’t driven that point home in his commencement address and more firmly with his death 6 years later.
It’s no coincidence that a huge portion of our work throughout the years has been on building and enhancing software systems with Ruby and Rails. Justin and I both had a common love of the language and framework, the power and speed of development there is hard to match. The Ruby community, however, is the strongest example of a technical community I’ve ever been a part of. We’ve had late nights with this group across 3 continents throughout the years. We appreciate all of the unique individuals who make the Ruby community special.
Starting a business aimed at improving the way the world builds software is maybe a tad aggressive given the state of our industry. While the goal is daunting, our industry provides a wealth of opportunities for improvement. Thank you to all the businesses hacking together systems as quickly as possible, leveraging the cheapest option they could find. Without you, we’d have very little to remediate.
I don’t think any of us understood how important these would be for establishing connections and relationships that will outlast our involvement with this company. Whether it was spilling wine on Zach Briggs at dinner, losing 8 consecutive points on the craps table, singing Karaoke in Punta Cana, or playing board games for hours in Detroit, I’ve appreciated that time with our co-workers more than I ever thought. I can’t wait to get the group back together again soon!
We used to bristle at VC folk who would refer to us as a lifestyle business. Justin and I both worked extremely long and at times difficult hours to make Test Double a reality. But in the end, they were right. We always wanted a company that allowed us to balance our personal, family, and professional interests. We realized throughout the years that balance comes very late for the founders, but Justin’s wife and my wife and daughters were always understanding of the time commitments Test Double creates. Thank you to our families for your patience, understanding, and grace in dealing with two stressed and overworked co-founders.
The things you don’t know when starting a business are innumerable. We are fortunate to be a part of a couple of groups of friendly competitors who selflessly share their successes and failures. We always learn from the mistakes they so freely discuss and we’re always challenged to become better when we hear of their successes. Ultimately, we’re a better business because of you.
In our earliest days, all the way back at our first client, we learned first hand how great it was to have an advocate at our client who understands what Test Double provides and sees the value in our services. We’ve had a number of key advocates throughout the years who have introduced us to new clients and opportunities and it’s been instrumental in growing our business. We would literally not be in business without you!
Finding a structure that allowed us to transfer equity to all of our employees has finally allowed us to become the type of equitable company that we have envisioned since the early days. There were likely other means to achieve this, but the ESOP is unique in the tax advantages for the business, the employees, and the founders. We look forward to building large balances in these ESOP accounts over the next ten years.
As mentioned in #3, there’s a lot of bad options out there for businesses looking to build, enhance, or remediate their software systems. The 172 (and counting) clients that we’ve worked with in the past 10 years have placed a lot of faith and trust in us to solve the harder problems they’ve faced with software. We are eternally grateful for your trust. I hope our hard work over the last 10 years has earned it.
Finally, I want all of our current and past employees to know that any service-based business is simply a reflection of the people who work there. It has been a humbling experience to learn from and collaborate with you for the last ten years. The passion, ingenuity, and skill our team brings to every unique challenge is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to work with you all.