DEV Community

Pan Chasinga
Pan Chasinga

Posted on

Transforming from Developer to Founder

Me getting my startup and fam outta trouble

Me trying to navigate this leaky boat called startup

Things I had not anticipated when I was working for someone else.

Starting in February, I've been working full-time as a co-founder of my own startup Referkit - developer-first referral and invitation program API and SDK for app launches. It surprised me that when I wanted to build a referral program for users who signed up on my website, I could not find a solution that wasn't geared toward marketers. So I built one for indie developers like us.

There were a few things I had taken for granted a few months ago when I was still comfortable with a stable income that had come to surface as my priorities now, and I'd like to share it with you in the case that you might one day or have already founded your own company.


I had taken it for granted but time is now the most absolute essential asset that can't be overstated enough. When I was working as an employee, most of my life's time was decided by the company. I could flex it a bit, but in the back of my mind I knew I was always on-call. What was left was spent carelessly in a very inefficient way.
Now working for myself, I have the full autonomy to decide what to do with my time. However, time is also running faster and more finite (as in the runway that I have). This freedom is entirely overwhelming because you are now 100% responsible for how you make use and organize your life around it.


Oh my, come every April it had been my least favourite time of the year. Filing W-2 is not something I looked forward to do even with the help of a tax software.
Now with a company, I'll have to work on its taxes as well. I'm totally noob and it scares the heck out of me just to think about learning all the nuts and bolts of corporate tax.

Code = Tool

When I was a full-time engineer, I was taking considerable time to make sure my code is clean. I even took the time to explore and learn about other languages and tools to add to my tool belt. Many times I wondered why my team wouldn't consider using more performant languages or elegant tools or even upgrade to Python3 already for X's sake!
Now code is strictly a tool--a mean to an end. I'm building a company, and literally it isn't about me any more. I've built Referkit API in Go, and I had wanted to use Clojure and Rust. But that idea will have to wait until I find someone who can make that transition for me.

Priority is Singular

We have all talked about priorities in terms of productivity, but I've come to realized that wrong. A priority doesn't come in a plural form. There can be only one at any given moment. Priorities are just a todo-list. A priority is something you can act upon on your instinct when a zombie apocalypse hits the fan.

Screenshot from World War Z

Your priority is what you'll act upon on an instinct in the time of crisis. There is no plural priorities.

Believe it or not, my most favourite Brad Pitt's role was in World War Z, as shown above. Not that it was a decent movie, but because watching him reminds me of setting a single priority in the face of calamity - that is being a dad first.

Almost all the time, humans are very forgetful of their priorities. We forget that any day could be our last. It often takes some form of crisis or paradigm shift to remind us. For me, being a founder did that.

Passion is Great!

I have heard a lot about the anti-passion movement, but as far as I know none of the advocates of this were a leader or pioneer. Almost all the "passion doesn't cut it" evangelizing were coming from self-proclaimed counsels, arm-chair experts, know-it-all bloggers, some entrepreneurs who want to look tough, and people who read it off from somewhere else.

People who had advocated passion? Try Steve Jobs.

I'd counter anyone who says passionate people can't stick around when the going gets tough. On the contrary, I think people without passion will quit when what they're doing does not yield. Passion has been a flame that forged human civilization and innovation for thousands of years. The industrial Revolution and the militarization of everything only came recently. I'm living off my passion every single day, especially when it's tough. I'd look for another job without it.


I became more conscious about my sleep. Sleep is the first thing a self-caring human being can do (second being exercise). Without at least 6-hour of sleep I wouldn't be able to tackle the next day fresh. I guess when I was an employee I didn't pay enough attention to this because, well, I was paid regularly to get things done.

Talking and Meeting New People

As nervous as I am, talking to people had been something I'd missed when I was working as an engineer. English isn't my mother tongue and that makes me talk more slowly even though my mind had already formulated an idea. Hiding behind my job description (writing code, obviously) had not help me to improve or feel connected at all, especially when I was working for a company that doesn't prioritize people and fun that much.

Now I try my best to stay open to anyone who wants to talk to me, whether it's directly about Referkit or not (feel free to reach out to me btw, I won't byte). Talking to people lightens me up.


If there's only one character anyone needs today, especially as a founder, it is resilience. Previously, I'd turned sour over annoying things like smoking neighbors, rude drivers, pricks at work, etc. There are too many distractions and our internet (or at least the part that we're drawn to) is making us less patient over every tiny problems.

For me, resilient is something I worship and pray that it gets me through the next day. It is something that I'll need down this road and I hope I won't lose it soon.

This is by no mean an exhaustive list, but it is one that is unique to me. I'd love to hear about yours so please share in the comments or email me at jo[dot]chasinga[at]gmail[dot]com.


If you're interested in trying out Referkit, please subscribe and I'll get you on a free tier when we launch.

Also if you like my writing, subscribe to my newsletter BETA School - unlearning schools and relearning life to get my personal take right in your inbox.

Top comments (2)

theuserll profile image

Awesome post Joe. Good luck man!

pancy profile image
Pan Chasinga

Thanks Lucas!