Friendly chat with our beloved client, Jonathan Gill from Backtracks
We are very happy to introduce you to Jonathan Gil from Backtracks, the podcast analytics and hosting platform. In this interview, he offers some great tips and useful advices for anyone’s job. We hope you’ll like his work and company as much as we do.
What’s your background?
I started to learn to write code as a teenager before I even had a computer of my own, largely due to a love of creation and audio. Later on, using what I like to call Internet 1.0, I created an Internet music portal which was my first experience with the power of the Internet in decentralized and remote scenarios. The original team were all working remotely, and first met each other over the Internet in the usenet, message boards, and chat clients of the day.
Long story short, I went to business school, started a record label, and continued to utilize software to solve problems. I eventually became a Technical Architect at the semiconductor company AMD (Advanced Micro Devices). I was also the third team member of Mozu, which later grew to over 50 people and is now Kibo Commerce. At Mozu, I wrote many of the eventing, analytics, and commerce parts of the platform. In between I wrote search engines, “counted” for analytics, and more. These experiences really play into Backtracks.
What are you working on today? What does Backtracks do?
Backtracks is an audio-oriented, highly technical team that has worked on more than 30 albums voted for in the Grammy Awards. It has worked on NASA space station software. It holds multiple patents, and has built massive e-commerce and payment systems (for the likes of Dell, American Express, Visa, etc.). Backtracks unlocks meaning and insight from spoken-word audio.
Do you work remotely or not? Why?
We work remotely and in-person depending on the scenario. The best people in the world for a particular problem often do not live or want to live in the same city as each other. Those people just happen to have similar passions, expertise, etc., but they may have different life circumstances or look for different things from the place they choose to live in.
Which tools do you use most?
Pacing around a room, thinking to myself. I know it’s not the answer you want, but in all seriousness, I walk a lot to think because like many people, the problems we are confronted with are not easy ones to solve. Using the power of your mind to think forward and backward through permutations of the future, the past, and/or a problem is an immensely useful tool that rests within you. Just because something is the accepted solution does not mean it’s necessarily the best or right solution. However you do it, it’s important to find a way to think for yourself without interruptions. If you are in “solo creation mode” then turn off phone notifications, turn your phone on silent, get off chat programs, stop checking social media every 5 minutes…or better yet just turn off your phone. Many distractions can be mitigated or just plain solved.
What/who motivated you to get started with Backtracks?
Basically, Backtracks started while I was wandering in the desert after Mozu (not even kidding) and people wouldn’t leave me alone wanting help with audio problems. I started to listen, and realized the unique skills and opportunity I had to help.
What went into building the initial product?
A lot of blood, sweat, and tears. We built the first version and have been iterating with users ever since then.
What’s your advice for start-uppers who are just starting out?
Nothing is easy. Things that you think will be simple will often end up being the most complicated scenarios in practice. In keeping with that, remember that, although your company or the problem you are working on may feel like your whole life, it’s important not to forget that it is one part of your life as a whole. It’s going to be a hard but rewarding journey, so make sure you have a person or people in your life to support you, and with whom you can share both the good and bad. Also remember to fall in love with a problem or a space, not your particular solution to a problem. Doing so will open up a world of curiosities and mountains to climb, with equally great views when you’re at the top.
Do you have time for side projects?
No, I have no time anymore, ha. Perhaps one day, in the distant future.
Interview realized by Floriane Fontaine & reread by Emily Fiennes for Muxu.Muxu.