Martin Hicks

Freelance mobile app & web developer
in sunny Manchester

Journal

A new chapter

In May 2018, myself and James Galley founded Si Novi – a digital product studio, based in Manchester – a company that would give us the platform to continue to build amazing web applications, craft beautiful mobile experiences and collaborate with some amazingly talented people.

This post is the story of how that came about…

Eight years ago I founded a company called Tariff Street with 5 friends (Harry Bailey, Chris Charlton, James Galley and Tom Yates). It was a deliberately slow burner, we all had successful freelance careers and other business interests to supplement the early days of starting a company. Back then I was launching mobile apps for The Telegraph, UCAS, and various higher education institutions and moved to London for a few years. Eventually I returned to Manchester, the company grew and we started hiring our first team members and the business became our sole interest.

Those were great days.

Exciting work, alongside some amazing people and clients. I leant a lot during that period and life was good. We were in a golden era.

As the years rolled on we started setting ambitious targets for the business. We hired more people – more devs, accounts teams and admin folk, we rebranded, and moved to a new space.

So far so good, but why did it not feel as amazing? Something had started to change, but I didn’t know what? Most of the work was still enjoyable. We had a great team. But the stresses and strains of growing the company had started to materialise. I just didn’t love it anymore – the company had grown, but at what cost? (Too much change at once? Maybe in hindsight)

Two of our original hires decided to move on and launch their amazing new business – Off Grid. I was delighted for them, yet sad personally as I enjoyed working with them so much. It made me start to re-evaluate what I wanted from my life and my career.

Fast-forward another year, and I realised I needed to make a change. Around this time, the 5 of us had some great conversations about what we wanted, what was best for the company, our employees , clients and families. In 2018 I, and 3 of my fellow founders (Harry Bailey, James Galley and Tom Yates) decided we would leave the business.

These were difficult times for all of us. Both emotionally in the sense of leaving something we’d worked so hard to create, and the sense of dread as to where my future income would come from.

I was lucky enough to be in position to take stock for a few months and really think about what I wanted for the future. Did I want to go and work for a big company? Did I want to re-forge a freelance development career? Did I still have the desire and the hunger to launch a new company? Had it all been worth it?

So many questions!

After a break I started to find my feet. I learnt to enjoy the freelance life again and the freedoms this affords, along with the thrill of working on a diverse range of jobs – from iOS and Android development, to PHP web application development and producing scaleable serverless solutions. But I also knew that ultimately one of my greatest desires was to work with people again, not just as a freelance for hire, but in a long-term collaborative manner. And ideally I would like the option to do both. Freedom.

James too had come to this conclusion and it was only natural that we would start to gravitate towards each other, and start laying out hopes and dreams for the future.

Si Novi is the fruit of those plans. We have so much shared knowledge, a love of working together (for 10 years!) and a genuine desire to make a difference in crafting enjoyable digital experiences.

Here’s to the future 🍻

Want to comment on this article? Have an exciting web development project you'd like to discuss? Hit me up at @martinhicks

Bio

Name:

Martin Hicks

Founded:

Si Novi | product studio

Skills:

Angular, React / React Native, HTML5, CSS3, PHP, AWS, Serverless, PWAs, Ionic, Yii, JavaScript, MySQL, iOS, Android, PhoneGap, Cordova.

I have many years experience working in Web Development (both front-end and back-end) and Mobile Apps. I specialise in making solutions that are simply intuitive, on budget and on time.

Over the past 4 years I've been specialising in producing scaleable APIs using both load-balanced EC2s and lambdas, hooked into Angular and React for browser based web apps and hybrid mobile apps.

Recently I've been enjoying learning more about PWAs and web components using StencilJS.

Age:

37

Education:

BSc Multimedia Computing (First-class Honours)
HND Music Production

Listening to