OmniSpotlight: Chris Mason
Tell us a little bit about you and your background!
I’m Chris, a software developer currently based in London. I grew up in a small village near Winchester, moved to Birmingham for University and after that moved to London, where I am now!
My career started working in sales but I quickly realised it wasn’t for me. At weekends and after work, I started teaching myself to write code. After a year or so I managed to land a job working at a consultancy firm, AND Digital. I worked there for nearly 4 years and built websites/apps for some big clients including TalkTalk, Conde Nast, House of Fraser and Bestway. Along the way, I worked on various ideas of my own hoping to eventually create something viable to work on full time, unfortunately none of them gained much traction! At my last client I was leading a team at a fintech startup and I fully caught the startup bug.
What do you do at Omnipresent?
I was the first non-founder employee to join and so have been wearing lots of hats these last 8 or so months, doing anything from mapping out operations processes to tech support to even formatting a sales proposal!
I am currently heading up the engineering function and until recently have been looking after a lot of the product side of things too. I worked with our co-founder Matt to design and build our initial MVP and over the last few months have been building the next iteration, which has recently been released!
My main focus at the moment is scaling our engineering team and making sure we set sturdy foundations to enable us to grow our team to 10, 20, 30+ developers in the coming months/years.
What do you like most about your role?
The best thing so far has been getting to see something go from being an idea in two people’s heads to a fully functioning and successful business. Being able to have an impact at the start of a company is something I have always wanted to experience and it is just as fulfilling as I had imagined!
We are also solving a very complex problem, and so every day there is a new technical challenge to solve, which as a developer is an ideal place to be!
How did you come to work at Omnipresent and what about Omnipresent's mission resonated with you?
Matt (one of our co-founders) and I used to work together at AND Digital. He left a couple of years before I did to found his previous company, I remember being jealous of at the time! A while after I reached out to him for some user research into an idea I was working on, and from then on we kept in contact. When Matt joined the Entrepreneur First program he kept me in the loop as he knew I was interested in starting something myself. I was invited to one of their initial demo days, met Guenther (our other co-founder) and saw the scale of the idea they had come up with. As they progressed with the company, they realised they needed a tech person to help build the platform and Matt asked if I would come onboard!
The mission resonated with me for two reasons. One being that as a developer it had been obvious for years that the tools now exist for people to be equally as, and often more, effective working remotely than they would be in an office.
The other reason being that there is a massive world out there outside of London or San Francisco and if you only limit your search for talent to the place your company is based, you are missing out on 99% of the global talent pool.
What are the biggest benefits to working remotely for you?
Well the obvious one is lack of commute, I live on the central line and spending an hour on that everyday in summer is not an enjoyable experience. The other, which I am sure every other software developer will agree with, is being able to really focus and filter out any distractions.
How are you managing the challenges of working remotely?
Building company culture and rapport among teammates is always going to be more challenging through a screen than in person. Having regular team catchups, team building fun sessions, over-communicating on slack and (when we are allowed out again) company retreats are some of the ways we are managing that challenge.
As we build the engineering team, finding effective ways of pair-programming and knowledge sharing will be another interesting challenge I am looking forward to solving!
Lastly, what’s the most interesting place you have visited and why?
Probably not what everybody would consider interesting but Studland in Dorset, UK is by far my favourite place. I have been with my family every year without fail since I was 2 and every year we find new things to do. It’s been a great constant in my life and would definitely recommend a visit to anyone who wants to explore the UK!