Love Your Industry – Dev to Founder – John Nagro
Featuring John Nagro, Co-founder of Dockwa
Do you love the industry you work in? I don’t just mean “tech.” I mean, do you love the industry for which the product you’re building serves?
I didn’t love my previous companies’ industries. I spent the first few years of my career working with some incredible teams at Microsoft and HubSpot. Both companies taught me a ton from both a technical and business standpoint, furthered my career and expanded my professional network. But the fact remained that I wasn’t really passionate about the industries that those companies served.
I loved working with the people and teams in my previous roles. I loved the technical problems that forced me the think outside of the box. I loved being given the opportunities to help create products that would help people. This all added up to enough to tell people that I liked my job (which was true!) – but it wasn’t until co-founding my current company, Dockwa, that I learned how rewarding working in tech can be.
I didn’t always feel like my day job had to directly impact my life. While at companies prior to Dockwa, and still today, I used side projects to continue learning and keep myself curious. While those projects weren’t necessarily driven by the things that I like to do for fun (besides, of course, coding), every project I pursued got me closer to the one I could put everything into.
When not coding, I enjoy spending time with my wife and our two pug-shaped children, traveling and sailing. Sailing, especially sailboat racing, has long been a favorite activity of mine, which is why I was immediately attracted to the idea for Dockwa, and which is why I co-founded it with three friends who also love being out on the water.
The list of things I learned immediately upon joining Dockwa is long; here are some of my key takeaways:
First-hand industry insight is a huge asset. The founding team did a massive amount of research on the marine industry before launching Dockwa, and not a day goes by that that research doesn’t continue. That said, having first-hand knowledge of an industry as complicated, as intricate, and with such history as the marine industry, was definitely a leg up.
Even with extensive experience, your view of your favorite hobby from a product standpoint is limited. When I co-founded Dockwa, I lived for sailboat racing, but boating and sailing encapsulates a much broader world than racing. I began learning about the business side of boating as well as the myriad different types of consumers this product could service.
Work-life balance remains crucial. I never have to remind myself that I love being on the water, but I do have to make time for it. That’s helped me and my co-founders develop a corporate culture of smart, talented, creative people who are as enthusiastic as we are about pursuing their passions.
Serving an industry you love is really f*cking fun. My colleagues and I love talking shop with boaters, and we get to often. When someone on the docks spots my Dockwa hat, a conversation is sparked, a connection is made, and someone’s life is made easier by Dockwa.
Serving an industry you love is also a huge PITA. On the flipside of those brilliant dockside moments when a boater “gets” your app or knows it and high-fives you, I also field dockside complaints and have spent countless late nights making sure this project is something I can present to my crew. And I couldn’t be happier.
The market Dockwa serves isn’t massive, but founding a company isn’t always about creating the next Amazon or Uber. Advancing an industry you truly care about and helping other people who share your interests is world’s more rewarding.
So ask yourself – how passionate are you about the people who use your product? If you’re considering founding a company, do it in an industry you are passionate about. You’ll be more motivated, productive and have way more fun as a result.
More about John and Dockwa here!