Update: RecycleBank

January 2009

On the day of my last post, the Dow closed at 11,516.92. I apologize for the amount of time that has passed; for the amount of “wealth” that has thus vaporized, I can offer no similar sentiment.

But that’s not the subject of this post. Much has happened since September 2, 2008, presidential elections and recessions aside. That’s right - this post is one of “those” posts. A navel-gazer. More diary entry than anything else, these posts are all too commonly spotted in the wild, often as the solitary entry in a defunct LiveJournal.

In December, I left my job at the Big Consulting Firm where I had been working since graduating in 2007. Once I realized that I would not be happy on the typical career path up that ladder, it was a quick exit. I was able to find another opportunity very quickly, and started on January 5th as a “Developer-Analyst” with RecycleBank. RecycleBank works with cities and private haulers to raise the recycling rates in the households that they service, by recording individuals’ recycling habits and awarding points based on those habits. The points can then be redeemed for gift cards and other incentives. I’m working on the team that writes the software to process the data we receive from the trucks and allow people to receive their rewards.

I was (and still am) extremely excited about this opportunity, first and foremost because the company is a startup. “Startup” is a bit of a loose term, and RecycleBank is by no means a small company that is just starting to try out its model - we’re already in 15 states and serve over 200,000 households. However, RecycleBank still has what I would consider to be the distinguishing characteristics of a startup, or the ones that are meaningful to me. For one: rapid growth, with an eye on even more growth. For another: dynamic teams, high energy, and flexible work processes. In other words, the specifics of how the company is going to achieve its goals are still very much up in the air, but everyone is going like gangbusters to try out different ideas. It’s the kind of environment that makes me excited to go to work, which is never a bad thing considering how many of your waking hours you spend there.

These are all aspects of the company that I *expected or *assumed prior to joining, based on my interviews, research, and just knowing that it was a startup. To date its all been true to form, and I’m very pleased about that.

The other major draw was the technology that RecycleBank is using to build its applications. It’s been almost two years since I started working with Ruby on Rails, the framework that we’re using for the bulk of our work. It’s great to be in a position where we’re using it for something a bit more “mainstream” or “enterprise” than many Rails projects out there. Rails is still the new kid on the block, with a lot to prove to those who don’t think it will ever be a useful tool for “serious” business. Hopefully the work we’re doing with it can eventually be evidence to the contrary.