Today exactly eleven years ago was the last day I worked for an employer. I had moved jobs only six months before but when my temporary contract was coming up to an extension I made the decision to try and make it on my own. Not that I started from scratch, I started my business back in June 2006, but that parttime work never took off.
When I quit my job in 2007 I was just married, bought a new house and car. I had almost nothing left in my bank account. The scary thing: I also didn't have any work in the pipeline for 2008. Still I felt that it was kind of a now or never thing: would I be willing to risk everything when there were children in the picture? Probably not.
Luckily I knew some people and was able to get a parttime freelance assignment pretty quick. At the end of January I was working as a firewall consultant for a global communications firm. Other jobs followed, parttime freelance work and consultancy gigs. I spent my time troubleshooting networks and designing better ones. And this brought me to a very diverse set of companies: I worked for a global eCommerce, a world wide producer of health food, schools, manufacturing plants and banks. My network was growing and I was doing what I loved. Simplifying complexity and building better network infrastructures.
But in the two years that followed I realized that the uncertainty of having a steady income was not something I was comfortable with. Also as a freelancer you get paid by the hour, an hour not working is an hour not making money. If you take a holiday it feels like it gets twice as expensive: you spend money and you don't make any. Something else that bothered me was that the career path of a freelancer is pretty much stuck: you can only get more senior in your work but you don't get in touch with new disciplines like for example management. This prompted me to think about a solution. Luckily I was in close contact with an ex-colleague who was in the same situation as I was.
So on the 21st of December in 2009 we joined forces and founded our company: aaZoo, one week older than my oldest daughter. Starting out doing freelance work from our new business to make money to be able to grow and after a while we started hiring people and growing the business. Today we're a small consulting firm but we have a large impact. We design, secure, operate and optimize networks for enterprises, both and local. Next year will be the tenth anniversary of aaZoo and it should be an interesting year. We're growing slow but steady and so does our customer portfolio. The last year was filled with interesting new assignments. We performed international datacenter migrations and implemented a network for an airport.
I couldn't have done it without the never wavering support of my wife, Marieke. I would also like to thank my business partner, Jan-Jacob Bakker, for always having my back and of course the great team we assembled around us at aaZoo. You guys all rock! And I hope we get to build a lot more kick ass aaZoo certified networks :)
Happy New Year to all! And make it an interesting one!