Constant Meiring, aisle_B’s tech guru
Posted on August 27, 2013
I was privileged enough to grow up in front of a computer – while other kids were playing rugby, I was playing around with programming and playing Space Quest. Now I am the one who is rich.
Couple of years later I had the opportunity to work for a US company, working on their billing systems. I grabbed it with both hands, and soon I was earning more than any 21 year old I knew.
In the next few months, I learned that having money doesn’t mean anything when you stress all the time, have hardly any free time for yourself and hate your job! Along with the US job, I did freelance work, which I enjoyed, to keep my sanity.
I met Elizabeth and Annelize from aisle_B when they approached me to do some web development for them. After working on a few projects together, they invited me to join their design business as a partner and head up the digital side. I pretty much made my decision there and then, leaving behind the US. The rest is history. Joining a very young company, I was also back to being poor!
The first day was rather awkward. We were in a super small office in a dodgy area of Cape Town. It was quite a process to integrate our workflow, as well as sorting out communication between each other. I also felt like a bit of an imposter, since I joined an existing business. It took a while for me to find my feet in terms of what my role is in the business outside of just web development. Part of the reason why I chose to join was the idea of growing a young, but established business to its’ full potential really appealed to me. I was young and had nothing to lose, so even though I would be earning peanuts again, I thought that the opportunity for learning was much more valuable.
The name aisle_B_ originally comes from a mashup between Annelize and Elizabeth. I’m still not sure how it came out as aisle_B_, but when I joined we discussed changes to the name and we agreed we should continue using the established brand. Over the period, the journey of growing the brand has been phenomenal. We are now at the point of looking of finding our next step.
I think we’ve all been pondering on what our future is going to look like – I am surely not seeing myself still developing websites when I’m 40. We decided to see a management consultant, who is a friend of Annelize, and it so happened that she also did consulting for Rob Stokes, whom I look up to. What we’ve realized is that the business is very reliant on our own identities, and when somebody leaves the company it’ll affect how the business is run. At the same time, when we hire new talent for the business, it might then take on their identity. This is bad if the person we hire is an anti-social hermit. The idea is to create a company culture that people believe in, and grow the vision of the company with the people we employ. Anyway, the process has really helped us figure out what our role in the business is, but we’re still figuring out how to apply it. I think our vision at this point is to grow an empire of sorts – to be an authority in our industry. We’re still figuring out how we’re going to get there!
In the industry that we are in, there are a couple of trends/things to look out for. Development wise, we try and stay up with the trends, while still keeping an eye on what works on older web browsers (given that in South Africa many people still use older versions of Internet Explorer.) Design wise, we mostly try and stay away from trends. They tend to look dated in a few months. We rather try and use our unique design language.
From a client perspective, the biggest trend you should be looking out for is web developers trying to be designers. There are a few exceptions, but if you’re paying one guy to develop you a custom WordPress theme, while also designing the front end, you’re going to have a bad time. Never mind the “logo” they’ll throw in for free.
I’ve got a few other ideas up my sleeve. But for now, I’m concentrating on growing aisle_B_ at the moment. I’ve also recently started working quite hard on my other venture, The Photobooth Company. Other than that, I’m taking it as it comes!
My name is Constant Meiring,
I Am Youngpreneur