BeatThatQuote (also trading as Finance Leads Online) was the UK’s fastest growing start-up in 2005 and won the HSBC regional award for best start-up in the London region. The company’s core business is generating and selling financial leads. As employee #5 (and the second techie!) I was resposible for implementing backends in Java, and customer self-service front-ends in RoR. BeatThatQuote has since been acquired by Google.
Hitting the ground running
I delivered features the moment I joined. From the get-go, John Newby (my manager) and I had fun competing for lines of code, then less lines of code (because less is more), and number of tickets, delivering as many features possible in a day.
Our office was a single room, and we shared it with loads of other creative and digital teams next to Highgate Studios. Our boss, John Paleomilytes, made a pretty penny with his previous venture, JCP, which he sold to Sun for a few million. Working with an exprienced entrepreneur was a great privilege. John was very driven and very demanding, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I like a founder with a clear vision.
The business grew, We recruited, and the team grew. My responsibilities increased, and I was tasked with implementing the direct-to-broker whitelable leads acquisition system in RoR. We also wrote one of the first ever Ajax code (not iFrame + src attribute, but XmlHttpRequest). This was a year before the first jQuery release.
I also grew immensely as a developer whilst working for BeatThatQuote.com. The pace was fast, and the tasks demanding. John would stand behind me, waiting for a bit of Ruby to deploy, saying “Every minute is X thousand pounds” and my heart would start pounding, and my hands would shake a little. But, I loved every minute of it. Never in your life would you so quickly learn to implement keyboard shortcuts for everything, and never ever even look at your keyboard ever again.
As always, a bulleted list of a few things I built at BeatThatQuote.com.
- MI System - leads submissions system; extended the system with 4 new products (property, life insurance, pension, and investment) on top of existing loans and mortgages (Java, PostgresQL)
- Direct 2 Broker system (Ruby on Rails, Ajax); extension to MI system; cuts out underwriter stage
- IFA self-service system (Java, Struts, Velocity)
- Misc: Ad-hoc reports (Perl); new test framework (Ruby, Watir, Selenium)