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Six Months of Driving Impact in the Data World

· 6 min read
Alex Dovenmuehle

Reflections & thoughts after six months of consulting in the data world.

You never know for sure where you'll end up when you venture out and do your own thing. Six months in, and I can definitively say starting Big Time Data has been a once in a lifetime experience. While there have been some curveballs, late nights, and paperwork frenzies, this journey is far better than I could have ever imagined. The most rewarding part by far has been the community Big Time Data has been supported by: our team, clients, partners, advisors, and a pretty cool lawyer.

The Fun

If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right.

Making an Impact

Our goal has always been to make an impact within our clients' organization through data enablement and education. Seeing that impact come to life for our clients has been a fulfilling experience that motivates us to continue our journey. We believe data should be accessible and actionable to any company willing to make the investment.

Technology & Tool Experimentation

With a variety of problems to solve, we are given the opportunity to experiment with a wide range of technologies. As a software engineer turned data platform expert, nothing excites me more than hands-on experience solving real world problems with cutting edge technology. We love to learn, and it enables us to provide the best recommendations possible to our clients.

Understanding the Underlying Data

Each client comes with a unique problem to solve and a whole new data set. Because we implement full data platforms, we are always knee deep in client data and are able to develop an understanding of how data schemas are set up to support products. Data is the brain of these companies and we are given the opportunity to see their business processes for sales, marketing, support, billing, etc. You name it, we learn it. It's very intriguing to see all these differences, and more importantly, the commonalities.

Building a Network

The most unexpected fun has been working with partners (Hightouch, RudderStack, LightUp, etc.), discussing the evolution of the data platform with VCs, and providing product feedback to other startups (Materialize, Great Expectations, dbt Labs, etc.). With our unique insider view into a company's potential clients, we're able to provide strategic feedback and help shape data products to improve the experience for everyone.

The Not-As-Fun

Not everything is magically delicious when starting and running your own company.


Setting up all the legal, accounting, and HR things is not the most fun I've ever had, but according to our lawyer and accountant it's necessary. It took some upfront effort, but once it is all set up, there is very little maintenance to keep everything running smoothly. One fun challenge has been having all three employees live in different states: Rachel in California, Alex in South Carolina, and Fritz in Florida. Haven’t you always dreamed of registering your business with three states, 1 county, and 1 federal government? Same. Don’t even get me started with how long it takes for that paperwork to come back.

Context Switching

The most challenging part is juggling tasks for multiple clients at the same time. We attempt to schedule project timelines to avoid thrash, but unfortunately it doesn't always work out perfectly. Every once in a while, we end up in back to back meetings with four different clients and a prospective client all in the same day. I won’t even go into how many Slack Connect channels we have going at any given time. The context switching can be pretty draining, but we find ways to bucket our time and protect our sanity as much as possible.

Balancing Act

Big Time Data may be mighty, but we are small. With only three employees, scheduling projects based on skill set, bandwidth, and relationship becomes a game of Tetris. We want to ensure no one is running at high RPMs or stuck idling for too long. We're getting better over time, but it's always a challenge. At the end of the day, you're not going to get it perfect every time, but there is great comfort in knowing that your teammates will be there to pull you through.


The trust Rachel, my co-founder, and I have in each other is the core that allows this engine to work as efficiently and fine-tuned as it does. After partnering together for nearly five years (Heroku, Mattermost, and now Big Time Data), we have come to the conclusion we don't want to work if we're not working together. Every day company defining decisions need to be made, and having a like-minded, ambitious, and supportive co-founder allows you to act with confidence. Reliance on your co-founder is critical, and thankfully Rachel and I trust each other to act in our best interest, to be blatantly honest, and most importantly get shit done.

Trust is the foundation on which success is built.

Trust is not only required with your co-founder and employees, but every party you interact with. Our business has flourished simply through word-of-mouth. Potential clients have arrived at our doors through satisfied clients discussing data solutions Big Time implemented, former colleagues mentioning our name in job interviews, and referrals from our friends and advisors. All of that is built on trust. Trust that we really are Big Time and can deliver the impact we pitch.

Trust is a precious commodity because once it’s lost, it becomes nearly impossible to rebuild. We take that responsibility seriously.

Thank you to our clients, our employee, our advisors, and our partners placing their trust in us.

Looking Forward

There is no looking back. Now that the curtain has been lifted, I can't imagine working at a "regular" company again. Maybe it's the ownership factor or the freedom to focus on my passions that draws me in, but, mostly, it's being able to work with Rachel and Fritz. The creativity, drive, and passion that forms when working together is lightning in a bottle that is nearly impossible to replicate.

So for now, we will continue on the path we're on, making a real impact, evolving our expertise, and working with Rachel, Fritz, our advisors, our partners, and our clients.