I have had quite a diverse career working across different industries from computer games through to financial services and healthcare. I have spent the past 2 years working for Boots, a large UK healthcare retailer, as a software development manager. I enjoyed working at Boots and had a good team, but my role at Boots started taking me further away from software development. This was starting to concern me, especially as I started to write courses for Pluralsight. Writing for Pluralsight didn’t just happen overnight. It was a lengthy audition procedure but once I was in and had released a few courses, I realized that this was going to be something big for me. Being in a position where I was moving away from daily coding was now clearly going to be an issue for me, so something had to change.
About the time I started working for Boots I was introduced to 2 founders (Steve Weston, and Graham Blaney) of a new start-up called Buying Butler. Steve and Graham had been trying to get me to join them for a while but the timing wasn’t quite right for me as working for a small start-up can be a risk, especially when you have a mortgage and 2 kids, but as I built up my course catalog with Pluralsight and Buying Butler got some decent funding, I decided to take the plunge and go and work for them. At the time of writing this post I have been officially working for them for a week.
The company is still very small. There are currently 5 of us, but we are looking to expand the software development team quite quickly over the coming months as we have about a 2 years road-map of planned work to get through. Buying Butler is a buying concierge service that aims to make complex purchasing decisions easier for the end customer. We are currently focusing on buying cars. The idea is that the customer specifies their requirements using simple, plain English terms and the system will make car suggestions to them. When they have found a type and spec of car they like, the request is sent to our supplier network who are signed up on the site and they can compete against each other offer the customer a good deal. This could be competing on price, spec or extra features. The customer can then go and organise a test drive. A good benefit here for the dealers signed up to the platform is that we can perform an affordability check and then give the dealer a score of the likely hood of the customer being able to afford the car, and this creates very high quality leads for the dealer.
The really cool part of this idea is that it is not initially being offered as a business to customer offering where anyone can sign up. For the moment it will be offered as a business to business solution aimed at employee benefits systems (of which we have many deals lined up), so this give us a very large customer base early on. We are also doing some work, as part of a sister company called RightIndem, around insurance claim handling which we will be looking to pilot soon. This links in with the Buying Butler platform as if the customer is processing a total loss claim and needs a new car, then this becomes another channel into Buying butler.
My role at Buying Butler is Lead Developer. This means I will be very hands on writing code, but I am also recruiting a new team of developers to join me. Currently I am looking at building a secured Web API layer for our insurance claims platform. Working for a start-up is very refreshing. I have only been here 1 week but I have been incredibly productive already and written a large part of our new API.
Now that I have started here and feel settled, I intend to continue this, Life at a Start-up, section on this blog where I will talk about Buying Butler, how we are going to run our development teams, and some general fun articles showing what we are getting up too. We really want this to be a company that is focused around software development and engineering with the purpose of solving real business needs. I am very excited about what we are building and I think it is going to be fun and very hard working journey.
By the way, we are hiring as well for developers with experience in the Microsoft Stack, so that’s C#, MVC, Web API, SQL Server and Entity Framework. We are also hiring automation testers too. We are based in central Nottingham in the UK. If you are interested in applying, then contact me initially via the contact form on this blog and we can talk from there.