Managing Director and smarterwork Expert Nathan Vingoe talks to smarterwork about how he came to create his own software hosting company and why he thinks Internet businesses should be a bit friendlier...
Name: Nathan Vingo
Occupation: Managing Director
Company: Amber Scotland Ltd T/A Cleartech Solutions
Based in: UK
smarterwork: Tell us about your company / work. How did you get started?
Nathan Vingoe: We are a small software house specialising in dynamically generated web pages from database back ends. I was bored with university, and started a wee consultancy in Scotland and a small publishing company. On achieving my degree, I went on to work but soon the business became more than a part time issue so I went full time. The company outgrew me, so I started hiring staff. I now have three full time and over 30 freelance staff to help me deliver any project, large or small, and three magazines per month.
SW: Does your working background help you as a contractor?
NV: The smarterwork concept gives an extra sales angle to pursue, and complements our current working habits. We have a dedicated few hours per day to go through and quote on any relevant projects.
SW: What's your working environment like?
NV: We have office facilities for our hosting operation. But most of our work comes in via Internet routes. So this is far from a conventional office: We have a dog that comes to work and lounges around all day. We usually have music blaring from the stereo system and this certainly creates a relaxed and productive atmosphere. Our freelance staff do not actually work from the office, so we support an internal chat and web conference system. This system is running all the time for any of the guys to talk and see what the others are up to.
SW: How do you manage your work schedule?
NV: We make use of task management software to manage daily tasks. This is strongly coupled with Microsoft Project to manage Projects. We pretty much always know what we are up to.
SW: How do you think the market for computer and Internet related work is developing?
NV: There are many technical companies out there that are selling standard packages. Often small businesses need something not standard to have the right net presence. We had problems producing 'different' sites as ISP's could not support them. So we started our own hosting company. Why should customers have to put up with second best?
Internet companies need to bear in mind that small businesses often want to do things but just don't know how. Being more helpful and less rigid will allow businesses to get what they need.
SW: What have been some of your most memorable contracts or Clients?
NV: Writing the world’s first pharmaceutical on-line brokerage, as this broke the mould of that industry. I worked on flying green things for Marconi and BA systems. I do enjoy working with people with an idea, and providing the technical input, watching their faces when their idea gets released on the Net, worth every second of the work...
SW: Could you tell us a few words about some of the projects you worked on at smarterwork?
NV: We made a word template for smarterwork, a set of ASP components for use on a Web developer's customer site. We researched chat rooms and discussion forums. We had one of our developers write some software for a palm pilot company.
Our current smarterwork projects include designing a full website with reports, archiving features, a chat room, and online e-commerce. Also one of the companies we use for translation in software, is translating a website for a Germany-based customer.
We are getting a diverse set of work, and are enjoying having such a wide spread of contracts.
SW: Do you think the Internet is changing people’s working habits?
NV: Yes, we are seeing a lot of IT staff leaving their 9 - 5 jobs and moving to home-based work, and starting small consultancies.
SW: Do you have any advice for people wishing to work in your field?
NV: Make sure you know what you are talking about and do the home work. If you can't quite pull the whole job off on your own then find someone to do the bits you can't.
SW: What are your plans for the future?
NV: Basically more of what we do now. We are growing hand over fist and all enjoy the work we are doing.
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