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Turning to Toptal

November 2nd, 2016


I’ve been freelancing since 2003. Back then I setup a small Active Directory network for a private school. The landscape has really changed since then, but I’ve continued building and customizing applications the entire time. I’ve worked as a contractor and as an employee, but always enjoyed the contractor roles more. Finding worthy projects has been one of the hardest parts about freelancing full time. Now at a crossroads my plan is to join the Toptal web developers community to continue being a freelancer and work with great clients that have challenging projects.


In high school I took a class on economics and learned a bit about small business. I had an idea back then that starting my own business might be for me. In college I grabbed a book off the shelf from the computer science section about freelancing. The first chapter found me very excited. There was talk of freelancers having to be better than the employees of an organization, that freelancers often don’t deal with the red tape employees do and the best thing you can hear as a freelancer is, “the check is in the mail”. Reading that I knew I wanted to start my own company after college.

Both sides of the fence

Everyone knows that job can be the easy way to make a living. As an employee there’s a lot of things you don’t need to worry about, most importantly where the money will come from. I’ve worked for several companies for over a year, and a couple of them were enjoyable, but I find office politics and culture can get in the way of good quality work.

Having gone full time with my company Moxune in 2011, I’ve done a lot of freelance work. Most of the clients that I find are startups with variable budgets, many of them being limited. Moreover, unless startups have funding many of them can’t afford high quality code. They want a Minimum Viable Product, which is fine and I have happily built many such sites and applications.

I’ve also worked on contracts through local recruiting shops here in Denver through Moxune. Some of the companies I’ve worked for in this capacity are Time Warner Cable and MyWedding. These companies have lots of money and have a greater understanding and desire for quality work than startups.

Thinking of Toptal

When I was contracting with MyWedding, we had a guy on the team from Toptal. I thought Calvin was very smart and indeed smarter than the full time guys at MyWedding for the frontend work he was hired for. My direct supervisor, whom I befriended, said Toptal might be a good fit for me. He told me it’s for the top 3% of developers. I joked with him that I’m ranked in the top 1% on Stackoverflow.

Toptal claims to work with prominent organizations that I’ve enjoyed working for in the past. MyWedding is one of them and I notice MIT is too. I setup Single Sign-On for MIT’s entrepreneurship department a few years ago and I did the entire project remotely. The more I think about it, the more I imagine Toptal could be a great fit for me.

It sounds like Toptal has the reach and focus to align me with good matches for my skills and preferences. I’ve only just applied at Toptal, so let’s see if they accept me and I’ll let you know how things work out in a future post!


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