What's Happening This Week: 10/20/19

Hi, welcome to the Cleveland Tech newsletter. I talk about all things tech in the Cleveland community. 

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Profile of the Week

Name: Kurtis Jensen
Current Job: Software developer. Founder of oBuilds, LLC, a small software development shop based in Cleveland.
Favorite restaurant in town? The Fairmount Martini and Wine Bar
Favorite thing about Cleveland? I love that I can live in the woods and work in the city

Q: There are many software development firms out there, what makes you different? Skin in the game. We make strategic investments and in-kind contributions to the majority of our customers to help them succeed. Having upside and downside depending on whether or not our customers succeed gives us an inherent long-term interest in our customers. Offering our services to customers at discounted rates allows their money to go further than with competing development agencies, and reduces the risk of them running out of capital before hitting key milestones.

Q: What are some of the common errors you see startups make when it comes to software development? I think that overly-complex architectures are the number one killer of projects that I have seen in my career. In software, the difference between theory and practice is very real, and I think that a lot of developers tend to assume ideal conditions while designing their products. In practice, those assumptions break down, leaving them with systems that are brittle, that are hard/expensive to extend and understand, or that do not work at all. Also, startups will often create a minimum-viable product (MVP) to get their idea off the ground, but will not budget for replacing that system with something that can really serve the market. This becomes particularly problematic when the MVP is written using a system that is inherently limited, such as WordPress, where there are low barriers to getting something started, but cannot provide complex/custom functionality without a lot of error-prone modifications.

Q: You used to live in NYC, why did you return to Cleveland? Because, as Mike Polk Jr. said, in Cleveland, you can buy a house for the price of a VCR. To put it a different way, when I was living in NYC, I realized that I was doing all of the same things that I did when I lived in Cleveland, but at nearly double the cost. This was the root cause of the decline in the standard of living that I experienced when I left Cleveland for NYC. When I returned to Cleveland, I rented a 2,400 sq ft penthouse in Cleveland Heights for less than I rented a 200 sq ft studio in Manhattan.

Q: What do you look for when hiring a software developer? I look for someone who tells the truth. In my career, I have probably only given one formal technical interview, and it was when I was working as an employee of another software company. My hiring process works like this: I ask a prospective developer “I have a project which requires X. Can you do it?” If they tell me “yes”, then I believe them. In the case that they were lying, and they can’t do what they said they could do, then I would know within a few days of hiring them. In that case, I would probably have to let them go.

Q: What are some of the challenges going from an employee to a manager? For me, this was definitely letting go of control. I came from a background where I was the sole developer of an application, so I would need to know everything about how the application worked, and I had a particular way of doing things. When working with a team, especially on larger software projects, it’s impossible to know how everything works, and it’s not reasonable to expect that everyone writes code the same way that you do. This is something that I still struggle with sometimes, and I ask my developers to let me know if I am being overbearing.

Companies Hiring

This Week’s Events

Future Events

Interesting Reads


  • Let me know if your company is hiring

  • Let me know if you are hosting an event

  • If you are interested or know someone who would be interested in being highlighted for our profile of the week, let me know.

About The Author

My name is Ari Lewis and I do comms/pr for technology companies and am a partner at venture capital firm focused on blockchain companies. Follow me on twitter @amlewis4 or connect with me on LinkedIn. Always open to meeting new folks. Email me if you want to get coffee.

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