Jamie Wright of Brilliant Fantastic
Meet Jamie Wright, founder of Brilliant Fantastic
, a web applications consultancy firm.
What is Brilliant Fantastic?
Brilliant Fantastic is a small consultancy located in Toledo, Ohio. We build web applications for customers using Ruby on Rails, and we have recently expanded into mobile development for the iOS platform. Scratching our own itch is also important to us as we have created and released our own subscription-based software. There is more of that to come.
How did you come up with the idea?
Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to work for myself. It started with my paper route empire and continued into a small home based t-shirt screen-printing business. I discovered software relatively late in high school and decided to pursue it in college at Bowling Green State University
. I found that I love creating things and software allows you to do that over and over very easily.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
I guess the biggest surprise is how important the service side of a service-oriented business is. It takes an awful lot of work to make customers happy and content. We go above and beyond what is expected of us and we always try to over-deliver.
Where did you find your first employee?
First, I hate the word employee. Most companies have attached a negative connotation to the word, giving it a feeling of subordination or someone that is less important to a company. Instead, I like to use the word partner.
I brought on my first partner, Keith Thompson, in June. I knew of him through the local software development community in Toledo. He is a very bright and self-motivated young talent. We see eye-to-eye on a lot of ideals and concepts in regards to how to build software correctly and we treat it as a craft. He has taught me a lot, which is great.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
The mornings are usually slow going for me. I usually start the day reading Twitter, watching a podcast, or browsing through my Instapaper articles. I try to check in with Keith around 10am using Campfire to see what his plans are for the day. We try to work on the same client project on any given day. I then open Vim, my text editor, and start coding away on a project. I am a huge fan of the Pomodoro technique so I will work for 20 minutes at a time and then take 5-minute breaks. I find it very productive.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Toledo?
The advantage is that I have gotten to know most of the software developers and designers in the area on a personal level and I have become good friends with a lot of them.
The cost of living in Toledo is another advantage. We have some really talented and creative people in the Toledo area that can compete with the large and expensive agencies on the western and eastern coasts.
What resources or organizations in Toledo did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I am a part of several software development and design groups in Toledo. They have given me a lot of connections to businesses as well as connections to the talent in the Toledo area. I give a lot of talks at conferences around the Midwest and these local groups were instrumental in carving that path for me.
Keith and I are also members of Seed Coworking
in downtown Toledo, which is a great place for creative people to work. Keith and I can collaborate easily there and hang out with a lot of like-minded nerds.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
I have met and worked with some of the brightest and innovative minds in the software world but perhaps the most rewarding experience is working at a Give Camp.
A Give Camp is a full weekend where I can donate my time and expertise to help charities and non-profits with their website needs. I try and do one at least once a year and it is a very rewarding and satisfying experience.
What inspires you?
Innovation and hard work inspire me. It's amazing to me still even after 15 years of doing this that someone can invent something. They can bring something into this world simply by designing it and developing it with nothing but a computer and some time.
It's so simple to do, but yet so challenging. The hard work and the thoughtfulness are the ingredients that make it challenging. The ability to take the complex and make it simple is the hardest challenge of all.
What founders do you admire and why?
Well, of course, there is Steve Jobs. He has shown all companies that making a product you are passionate about is the key to a profitable company and your own happiness.
Jason Fried of 37 Signals and his book "Getting Real" is one of the biggest influences on how I run my business and in part how I build software. Caring about the small stuff and not competing on a feature list resonate with me every day.
What’s next for you?
We have a lot going on right now and we are excited for the future. We are concentrating on our next software product, which is a very ambitious project, but it's something that we want, and we believe that a lot of others will benefit from as well. We hope to change the current status quo.
Along with that, we have plans to dabble in a bunch of other areas. We have some ideas for clothing lines to training courses and additional software products. We are also in the early stages of bringing a software development conference to Toledo next summer. We want to branch out, and if we feel we can improve upon something, we will try.
Interview by Joe Baur