Why I decided to sell my company and move to London

Josue Abreu
Nov 14, 2016 · 4 min read
Piccadilly during my first visit to London while on my last interview for GoCardless

Now that we’re pass the click-bait title we can get to the real story — I’m writing this piece in the hopes that friends, family and close ones get to pick at my brain on the whys and whats of my decisions. Most of them thought I was even nuts for even thinking about selling Pixel Perfect Tree when we’re having such a successful trajectory (we even got featured in Forbes 30 under 30) but reality is that they don’t really understand my line of work, what I do or how I do it. This is my humble attempt at giving them a better perspective.

Fabling with idea around November 2015, I felt horrible for even thinking about giving up on what I had worked so hard for the past 3 years at that time. But, reality is that I wanted better for everyone around me; myself, my employees, my fiancée and my family.

When I first put together Pixel Perfect Tree — I said to myself:

These words couldn’t had been more naive. We started as a 4 person team and I quickly learned that like-minded individuals meant like-minded in one and different in hundreds. I quickly found myself expending more time and mental energy in trying to figure out each employee’s strengths and weaknesses and making sure their backlogs were in check, rather than solving problems through technology. Having a team of 4 I barely noticed, it wasn’t up until the size of 12 that I realized just how little programming and problem solving I was doing on my day-to-day.

Don’t get me wrong… I enjoyed each and every single hat that I had to put on: Sales, HR, Payroll, Customer Support and every little bit of the business gave me an invaluable perspective even as a Software Engineer. I’ll never see businesses again with the same eye, to me, this is priceless.

December 4th 2015, in our office before heading out to a resort for the annual company retreat.

In Pixel Perfect Tree I always felt that my biggest impact was made on technical terms, no matter how/what I did it never felt quite the same as Refactoring a complex code to show it to my peers, dismantling a problem into objects by using the right abstraction or pairing on a piece of code that we had no idea to how to approach. It didn’t take me long enough to realize this is part of what I think I’m good at.

I’ve always dreamt of London. For some unexplainable reason I had always fantasized with the idea of Living/Working in London. Right after getting my Bachelor’s degree, I applied to several Universities and even got accepted into two of them. The opportunity to create and move forward Pixel Perfect Tree knocked on my door around this time so I gave up on this idea.

The combination of fantasizing about living abroad and my desire to keep growing my technical skill set really pushed me over the edge to make this huge 180º turnover of being the CEO of my own company to a full time employment over at GoCardless.

In reality GFRMedia (they were my biggest clients with a representation of about 80% of my business) realized that everything was so well organized and running smoothly that it made all the sense in the world to acquire the company and use it as a point of expansion. They have been looking for years for a solid way of expanding their businesses into the Dominican Republic either way, so what better start than with a company that is already grounded.

GFR Media República Dominicana Launch Party (Pixel Perfect Tree alongside GFR Media Executives)

In the end, everything worked out as expected. I’m happy that I get to accomplish my dream of living/working in London, my employees get to keep their beloved job (plus a cash bonus!) and my clients get to keep their business running as usual.

Understand how scary and important this whole scenario was for me, leaving a successful company and moving to a country and job which I had no idea how it’s gonna be but in reality I’ve embraced the challenge (the lovely British weather included) and I’m loving each and every second of it. I’ll keep you guys posted of my adventures.

Keep in mind that GFRMedia is hiring a Director of Technology for their brand new Santo Domingo offices, so if you’re interested in working alongside the smartest and talented individuals I’ve ever worked with don’t miss the opportunity and apply here.

Josue Abreu

Written by

Software Engineer @ GoCardless. Ex-CEO and co-founder of @pixelperfectree.

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