Why did you choose to study computer science?
I love building and creating things that solve problems. As a child, I was always trying to create something or sell something - lemonade, lawn mowing and more. When I got to college, engineering was a clear way for me to apply these interests. I was specifically drawn to computer science because of how quickly you can see the results - sometimes just one line of code and you immediately see the fruits of your labor.
Who or what had a strong effect on your interest or trajectory in computer science?
I met the cofounders of Digital Ocean during Techstars Boulder 2012, and they encouraged me to try to learn Ruby on Rails. I taught myself Ruby on Rails using the Michael Hartl rails tutorial, and then was encouraged by the team at PivotDesk, a Techstars Boulder company, to apply my blossoming skills. After that, I was a part of Zach Nies' "Startup Essentials of Computer Science" course, where I learned how to validate product ideas and iterate using software.
What life lessons did you learn during your time at CU?
I learned that you can get ahead of 95% of people by just going for it. Just by trying to do something and following through on what you say you are going to do, you will stand out above most of the crowd. The even crazier thing is that a lot of the time, you'll get what you were hoping for too. I also learned that the perceived challenge of learning something new is much higher than the actual difficulty of learning that thing.
Tell us about your career path.
During college, I interned at IBM and a research laboratory. Then I jumped into the startup world and PivotDesk as a software engineering intern. At the same time, I cofounded Spark Boulder, a student coworking space on the Hill. That led to helping start Catalyze CU, the university accelerator program, which was run out of Spark the first year. After that, I went to work for Galvanize Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund. Then, in 2017, I started my own company, Halp, which I am CEO of today.
What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining?
The day we opened Spark Boulder was amazing. We had a group of more than 300 students and community members in the space celebrating together and starting to build the connective fabric between those two worlds. I also really enjoyed the Techstars Boulder program in 2018, which my company participated in. We were joined by 10 other companies and built our companies for three months, culminating in a demo day at Boulder Theater.
What moments in your personal life have been most exciting or defining?
My experience at CU was very important in my life. I made some of my dearest friends, and it shaped the person I am today. I also really enjoyed the trip I took to New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia in 2018 before starting my company.
What is your biggest career or life lesson to date?
If you aspire to do something something, don't just talk about it, do it.
What is your current professional role? What is your favorite part of that role?
I'm the CEO of Halp, the company I started. My favorite part is the amazing people I get to work with every day. I also like to be able to order any snacks that I want. :)
Are there any “words to live by,” credo, or top values that you follow?
We have four core values - Halpful, Action, Learning, and Play. Halpful means to go out of your way to help customers and coworkers. Action is a bias toward taking action, not sitting still. We're a constant learning organization, and we Play to make sure we still have fun every day.
What advice would you give to current or future computer science students?
Play your student card! While you're a student, you can reach out to people in the community and ask them for help, advice and mentorship, and they will give it to you!
What do you expect or hope to see in the next 50 years of computer science?
I hope that computer science continues to become more mainstream and accessible to younger, more diverse students. It should be taught at a very young age and be a part of the curriculum whether you are a software developer or a psychology major. Computer science is a major part of everyone's lives.