I’m turning 38 and as of 13 contractual days ago, I have a job at Bulb as Head of Labs (new products, new parternships). Bulb is an affordable and green energy company.
So I’m back working in Shoreditch in a co-working space set up by David Cameron’s former digital advisor that looks like something out of The Shining. I’m running a team in a business of 300 employees.
Some of this feels new (where did all these young people come from?), some of this is not (Bagels on Brick Lane). It’s definitely strange though.
Why did I take a job you ask?
Well. It turns out that pioneering in the internet of things space isn’t really what pays the bills anymore. Writing a book doesn’t pay them at all and without sales reports, I’ll only know once a year (if a check comes through the door) how successful that has been. And then there’s Brexit. Many of my friends in #iot consultancies and startups have reported a rather quiet year. Does it feel like the financial crisis did? I don’t know as I had started Tinker in 2007 when I moved to London, aged 26. Since then I’ve managed to do quite a few things:
– sold the first Arduinos in the UK
– hired the best in the country to help me run Arduino, product, innovation workshops
– worked with a variety of companies from adland, traditional press to R&D departments
– ran an open source project on the smart home which is in the permanent collection of the MoMA
– made a smart/dumb button for russell which is also in the permanent collection of the MoMa
– commercialised a 2G version of the Good Night Lamp which is in the permanent collection of the London Design Museum and has been exhibited in the Science Gallery in Dublin, the Steven Lawrence Gallery and is currently in the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford as part of an exhibition on the home and security
– run the first #iot pop-up shop from my office
– curated 2 years of projects and events around the smart home across Europe
– wrote a book about smart homes which was published in September by Apress
– I’ve been running the London internet of things meetup for almost 8 years.
– I’ve given talks about innovation, the internet of things around the world (apart from Africa and South America).
– I’ve offered multi-day training both digitally and in person around the internet of things.
– I’ve been a visiting lecturer in the most prestigious schools across Europe.
– I’ve mentored professionals in search of a career change towards #iot.
– I’ve given feedback to PhD students around the world
– I’ve mentored and made connections for startups
– I’ve worked as an independent consultant for companies in the energy, smart agricultural, FMCG , industrial sectors and more
– I produced the first 2 UK editions of the Mozilla Festival
– I’ve worked with engineers, developers, designers, product managers, marketers and more.
– Two years ago I took 75 flights that year. This year it’s 45.
It’s fair to say I rushed through much of the last 10 years life. As an immigrant keen to ‘make my mark’ I suppose it was inevitable. But as I started to relax into my official new home (and status as a British citizen) I started to look at things a little differently. I don’t consider I’ve been smart for most of my career but I do know I was first to reach a lot of invisible lines in the sand. And for the first time perhaps I’m content in the knowledge that it doesn’t matter if nobody knows nor if I slow down a bit.
I’m also willing to learn from working *inside* an organisation and Hayden Wood, the CEO of Bulb, is kind enough to give me that platform. Whether he realises it or not, I’m doing exactly the same thing as I usually do, working with people I like, hiring people I respect, working with organisations and figuring out what the best outcome will be. I’m also surrounded by friends who work in different bits of the business and that’s fun. It’s a scale-up and I’ve never worked in a business at that stage. It reminds me of Inception, the metaphysical furniture and building moving around me. But that’s also the kind of environment I thrive in.
I’m not full time yet as I still have a couple of clients still ticking over, a book to promote and the redesign of the Good Night Lamp for CAT-M networks, but that’s not a lot for me. Slowing down is relative.
If you’re doing some exciting things with green technologies, hit me up at alexds at bulb dot co dot uk .