karl vaillant

Jan 14, 2021

4 min read

How I found Spendesk as a freelancer and chose to join the team

One of the eternal challenges as a freelancer is finding great clients. When you do, it makes the work enjoyable and rewarding. When clients are difficult, it hurts your whole work/life balance.

Occasionally you find such a good client that it makes you question why you’re freelancing in the first place. Wouldn’t it be better to work for them for good?

Here’s how I found Spendesk, and why I decided to sign on full time.

My story as a senior developer

Before sharing my experience on joining Spendesk as a full-time employee, I’ll explain my background.

I graduated from a French IT engineering school named “l’Efrei” in 2010, where I studied software development and management, and helped out with three associations.

During the first six years of my career between 2010 and 2015, I built my technical background on open-source tools and frameworks: J2EE, spring, hibernates, jquery and Android.

I worked for two large organisations - the French Ministry of Defense and Ista -while working on a side project in 2014 which became later a start-up adventure on 2015. This was a real moment in my life - I became an entrepreneur at heart and decided to upskill in new commercial and technical areas as NodeJS and NoSQL.

From then on, I worked heavily with two companies as a freelancer (Frichti and BNP) so that I could finance my four startup employees’ salaries. I met extraordinary people with whom I could learn new DevOps practises, design patterns, software design, and share them like a virtuous cycle.

My Spendesk adventure began on a Thursday night in January 2019. I grabbed a drink at the bar with some of my ex-colleagues from Frichti, some of whom had already moved to Spendesk. Sacha (one of these colleagues) said “Hey, we are building something amazing at Spendesk, why don’t you join us?”

Why Spendesk? (Missions & work culture)

When I first met Jordane, Raphaël and Axel on January 15th 2020, I knew immediately that it would be a good fit. My leitmotiv (recurring theme) is to continuously learn by tackling complex challenges — while also getting paid fairly for it.

I had just come out of a very rewarding entrepreneurial adventure building a social network for public NGOs. It ended in 2019, and it wasn’t quite as successful as I had hoped. I was therefore in a phase where, having amassed a lot of technical experience, I would be 100% available again for a new challenge.

Joining Spendesk as a freelancer was for me the opportunity to evaluate the company culture and team spirit while working freely on a project that makes me excited. Indeed, how could I not succumb to the announced themes: core-banking, distributed architecture, event-driven design?

I was immediately seduced by the project.

I joined Sacha and Meri in this brave new world of banking transactions.

Obviously when you arrive in a company, you want to revolutionize everything and bring the knowledge acquired during your previous freelance missions. Reality often catches up with us quickly, because each company has its own context, its own constraints and objectives. But I was pleasantly surprised by the flexibility granted to the IT team and its management system governed by trust.

After three months of work and good feedback on the quality of my deliverables and my involvement in company objectives, Raphaël offered me this great opportunity to come onboard for good on July 1st 2020.

From freelance to employee (New challenges & scope)

Once I became a full-time employee, the Spendesk universe opened up to me. I now see things from the inside — part of a family that sails in the same boat.

Not to mention the advantages of being in-house (restaurant tickets, company shares, insurance, paid holidays/sick leave, company parties, team building). It was clearly a good choice for me to leave the freelance world and come back to being an employee.

One of the advantages that seems most obvious to me is career development, and the possibility of being able to work on a project with a long-term vision. I can have a real impact on the company’s success. Moreover, my professional development is linked to the success of the company.

I moved from developer to Lead Developer in a new team handling payment services. Spendesk favours internal promotions.

Advice for freelancers

There’s no denying that working as freelancer comes with freedom, potentially a better salary, and self-management.

There is a certain honour in having one’s own company, especially during a family lunch when you are asked “who is your employer?” There are also advantages like developing multiple domains of activity, and choosing your own engineering training. Although you also have the uncomfortable accounting and administrative constraints.

On the other hand, being a full-time employee is safer and often better for self-fulfilment, career development and social interaction. I should also mention that I’m the lucky dad of a 2 year-old girl, and having stability was a big part of my decision.

I’m no longer sidelined from the business, HR and commercial events of the company, which can be frustrating as an external service provider.

The number of employees is constantly changing, yet we remain close to the founders and connected to each other. You can easily find a mentor inside the company that will help you grow and learn new things.

And in the end, it is by immersing themselves in the culture and best practices of successful companies that some employees become future successful entrepreneurs.

Bonus: a remote-friendly environment

I still enjoy many of the same freedoms I had as a freelancer. Spendesk is remote-friendly, so all the processes and tools in the box are designed for remote work.

Plus, being able to work closely with people all across the world is so enlightening.