Why start a company?

There were many reasons that Simon and I started Red Gate Software back in 1999. One of the reasons was that I was less than happy in my then job. I’ve heard this from a few people who’ve set up companies: they feel they can’t do well in their current environment, or possibly any existing environment, so they create their own. Oddballs and misfits the lot of us.

Another reason was that I saw a lot of bad decisions being made at the company where I was working. I was always thinking, and sometimes saying, that I could do better. I was often told that I wouldn’t be able to do better, or that it was all very much harder than it looked. So I thought I’d give it a go.

In my previous job one of the areas I used to question was work practices. Why do we have to wear suits? Why do we have to work 9-5? Why is that duff programmer still here? His work is no good, he’s not enjoying himself and he’s dragging down the rest of the team. Why is the stationery cupboard locked and why does the office manager hold the key? This leads me on to a third reason why we set up Red Gate.

Simon and I wanted to create a place that we would want to work. By extension, other people would want to work there. That meant that we wanted to work with smart, honest people who challenge us. If nothing else, we’ve achieved that in spades. We wanted to create a place where decisions are based on evidence and what you know, rather than who you are. A place where people want to come in to work, and enjoy the work that they do. A place where people can do the best work of their lives.

It’s a bold aspiration and I’m not claiming that we always meet it: it’s an aspiration. It is, however, extremely rewarding to get external validation that we’re on the correct path. We’ve just been awarded 3* status in the UK Best Companies awards for the second year running. Only 48 companies in the UK achieved 3* status this year (there were 42 last year). Last year we were nominated the 8th best small company to work for in the UK. This award is based on many factors, primarily employee interviews and questionnaires.

I hope this comes across as proud, rather than smug. Proud of all that everybody at Red Gate has done to get us this three star status. If Red Gate is a great place to work – and I believe that it is – then that is because of the people who work here. Well done all.

PS, did I mention that we’re hiring?