Decision Pints - Chris Chattin

By ndadmin on 04/06/2017

We're proud to talk to Chris Chattin today on Decision Pints. He's done some great things, including teaching himself to code then building and selling a company.

Transcript below:

Jason:              Well , welcome to decision pints today . We've got a special guest who's a maker . He's been in the air force as a pilot , got out , uh , taught himself to code , created a company and a product , sold the company and product is now building a plane . And it's great to have you here . Uh , we are cheersing to barbarian brewing , Beta wolf , sour IPA here . Thanks for having me , Jason . So you are a maker , you've always achieved impressive things and really thank you for your service . It's not whatever , volunteer and do appreciate it . And it's a , it's a special thing that we do value . Um , but you've done a lot more than that . So let's step back and how have you decided to do these things that are great achievements 

Chris:              if would them great achievements , but it's more A . Yeah , basically I always kinda thought I could . When I was in the air force , I thought I could do things better than everyone else or not everyone else , but like better than the way the current system was . So that was part of the decision to leave the air force . Um , and always wanting to be a football coach and ended up getting a spot on the staff at Boise state and a like through that identified a , an admin process . It was a pain in the butt around the camp registration . We were doing about 1300 kids , just pencil and paper , uh , you know , liability forums , checks everywhere , boxes stacked up in the office . And it was , it was pretty dumb . And uh , so we looked around for a , uh , an online tool or like , you know , some , some way to register kids digitally and there wasn't anything that really fit our particular use case , um , how we wanted it . And so ended up packing together a system to solve that problem . And then from there split off and formed a , uh , a business that was doing that for other coaches and camps , sports camps around the country . 

Jason:              Yeah . Which is great because I didn't even mention Boise state , which was there at a really special time in the , in the , in the football realm , which is exciting . Maybe you're the good luck charm , but you had a problem . You solve it , but you didn't just solve it . You actually , when we first sat down and talked , maybe it was 2012 , we were talking about different solutions like , oh , there's a , there's a word press and you can create some plugins . I tried that . There's a Juma . I tried that . We talked about drupal . You tried that and ultimately you rewrote , rebuilt , redid , and now it exists in a ruby on rails platform that you engineered from the ground up . Every piece was really built from , from you , late nights , early mornings , weekends . 

Chris:              Yeah . A lot of stubbornness . And Are you talking about like achieving great things and you know , I think a lot of people talk about that , but , you know , really it's just not giving up and keep working on it until you figure it out . There's , there's no , like great intelligence or anything . It's kind of borrowing ideas from everyone and you know , standing on the shoulders of these open source giants and um , yeah , I really like even people like , like you guys helping me out through the course of the development , like picking everyone's brain and everything's so . Yeah . 

Jason:              Well , in , in the scale of things , you are relentless to a degree that is rarely seen . I know that you were passionate and ultimately you sold the company and that's a success . And now I'm now onto the next phase , consulting , building airplanes . Uh , I mean , what is next for ? 

Chris:              Yeah , right now . I mean there's always that itch in the back of your mind to start another company at this current time . I don't think a quiet have the stomach to put in the hours and the effort that I do right now . But um , yeah , I just keep writing ruby ops for , uh , for people . And then , uh , once this plane is finished I'll probably dive into another , another SAS company . 

Jason:              Wow . Excellent . And you are active . We see you at trailhead , you're talking with startups . What , um , what , what are you involved in and what advice do you have to those that are just getting started or think that , oh , it's too much to learn how to code . It's too much to start a company . What do you say ? 

Chris:              Oh Man , I , yeah , I would , I always advise people to , to learn how to code . I mean , this is kind of interesting . You don't see too many people trying to start medical practices that aren't doctors , right ? You don't see too many people that are trying to start a legal offices without being an attorney . Um , and so people that are trying to start software companies without knowing how to program just seems a little bit crazy to me . Um , you know , you get into the construction business if you haven't built something before typically , right . And , um , so I don't know , it just , uh , I , I made the mistake like , so , you know , I understand like why people would think that way and , and to , to run a company or software company or a software as a service type company , um , you don't have to write the code , but it sure as heck helps to know how to , um , it helps you with hiring , firing , you know , it helps you be a better leader . Um , you know , you know , when to push , when to back off a little bit when to um , you know , it's Kinda what your guys are going through . If you felt the pain of implementing a feature at 2:00 AM when the sites down and stuff like that , you know , 

Jason:              and , and so you've really matured in all aspects of the ground up of learning your first bit of code and the lessons and then managing servers and architecture , infrastructure behind it and customers and design and pulling all that together to a true product . Let's just focus on the code for a second and let's say you , you made the decision , I'm going to write this and where did you go ? What was valuable for you ? And finding the path . 

Chris:              All kinds of things . A lot of people around town like you guys and I mean several mentors , uh , that kind of would nudge you in the right direction . But like , hey , you know , I want to implement this feature and be like , oh , did you try this library or do you look at this , this , uh , you know , open source project or . So you're like , oh , cool , you know , thanks . So you wouldn't even have known it was exist if it weren't for , you know , just reaching out and asking people . Um , yeah , just trial and error , just working on it until you get . It sounds like the school of hard knocks . It really was . And uh , yeah , that's , that's Kinda how it happens . It's not easy , you know what I mean ? Everyone would do it if it was easy . Um , yeah , what , what all helped was a lot of people know . Yeah . Basically just a lot of other things . 

Jason:              Sources that drive that , uh , perseverance and relentless nature you have and it's great that you did . It's a , it's a great thing for boise and the treasure valley as a role model , as an example of really , uh , you know , building a software company and selling it and moving on to mentor and help others . Uh , we , we cheers , all the great things that you're doing and uh , appreciate your time here and look forward in the days ahead to the next ventures . Thank you Jason , and thanks everybody who joined . 

Speaker 1:          I know . Yeah . 

Decision Pints - Chris Chattin