Always remember that nobody in this industry knows everything. An interview with Rachel Baker & Rocketmakers
SO WHO ARE ROCKETMAKERS
They are a team of passionate experts who design, develop and deploy technology for startups, scaleups and corporations using the very latest technology.
They have been around for over 10 years and built a reputation for quality and innovation which is second to none. The directors of the business have considerable tech and consultancy experience and still own 100% of the company. They have been consistently profitable and have grown responsibly from day one, with no money spent on advertising and all clients coming to them by word of mouth.
They are based in the centre of Bath and are a big part of the brilliant Bath and Bristol community around us. They run the React South West meetup and are active sponsors of local organisations and events such as The Guild, CreativeBath, SiliconGorge, TechSPARK and many more.
They get together for a team breakfast every Friday, enjoy unlimited holiday, and host numerous other team events, from BBQs and cake baking to poker nights.
They work on technically complex projects for great brands such as UK Sport, English Institute of Sport, Zendesk, BBC and Microsoft as well as innovative early-stage and funded startups who want to do good while doing well (such as Neighbourly and Pure Planet).
SOMETHING A BIT MORE PERSONAL:
It’s an exciting time to be part of Rocketmakers. They are moving into a brand new office in just a few months which is double the capacity of their current space and seconds away from the train station. Having recently celebrated their tenth anniversary, they’re going strong, and always have interesting new projects on the horizon.
SOME OF THE INTERESTING PROJECTS THEY ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON INCLUDE:
•A medical records app for Olympic athletes
•The app and website for a green energy provider
•A new platform to improve letting services and relations between students and landlords
•An app for volunteers to reduce food waste by delivering leftovers from cafes to charities
•Plus many more!
They are all about VR/AR, AI, tech startups, corporate innovation, apps for mobile and web, and tech for good. They are very active in the local tech community. It’s a relaxed and interesting place to work, with a lovely welcoming culture. They’re growing both their development and design teams, and welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds – They have a very flexible working environment so please do get in touch with email@example.com if you’d like to find out more!
I have worked with Rocketmakers for a little while and I definitely have a soft spot for them as a business, they are brilliant! You may also have seen that Rachel is one of the ambassadors for Women Rock and I wanted to share her story with you.
Rachel is a young single Mum, so not your usual CEO material. However, she has built two startups, one in the UK and the other in the states and has 10 years’ experience in understanding the challenges of being a CEO in the tech industry and everything that comes along with it. She is currently Business Development Manager at Rockermakers. Bath Life Magazine also recently interviewed her where she was asked ‘what do you hope the future for women entails?’ She hopes that one day we won’t even have to ask this questions specifically about women, but just about humanity as a whole. Rachel is a great ambassador for Women Rock, a mentor, advisor and speaker for women in tech.
COULD YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR TWO START UPS?
The first company was a high end hair and beauty business that covered the south of the UK. I would hire and train specialist hairdressers and send them out to high profile clients (including some celebrities!). I also built a hair and beauty academy with HABIA approved courses to train the hairdressers in how to do professional hair extensions, as well as building partnerships with hairdressing companies like Toni&Guy.
I moved to Las Vegas to be part of the Downtown Project. Tony Hsieh (the founder of Zappos, which was sold to Amazon) invested 350 million dollars into building a tech community in downtown Las Vegas. He travelled the world finding awesome startups that he wanted to invest in. It was a really nice little hub of techies. My friend’s company was invested in by the downtown project. I was trying to book a cleaner in for his office and it took me three days to get a quote – the whole process was a nightmare and the service was super poor. So I got investment with just a funny deck, built an online platform, hired and trained all the specialists, and sent them out to customers. I built partnerships with large residential complexes all over Vegas. The concept was really simple, people could put their details in, get a quote, and book a maid in a couple of minutes.
The reason I started both of these companies was so that I could work from anywhere in the world, and spend more time with my kids. I built both companies for recurring customers – high effort up front, but more income through subscriptions later on.
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE BEING A MOTHER AND WORKING?
Actually, with great difficulty. I’m always learning. I never stop. But I love what I do – my line of work – and I love being a mother. And that makes it so much easier. I try at least once a week to have a little bit of me time, even just a couple of hours in the afternoon. And my yoga in the mornings keeps me sane!
YOU HAVE 2 YOUNG DAUGHTERS, ARE THEY INTERESTED IN TECHNOLOGY?
The oldest is completing her first novel, and my youngest, who is 14, loves technology, and has just finished building her first game. She wants to run her own games studio when she’s older. She feels very passionate about getting more girls into tech.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN WHO ARE LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN COMPANY?
Always remember that nobody in this industry knows everything. Everyone is always learning. And almost everyone is faking it until they make it. Seek out the people that can give you the best advice and ask for their mentorship and opinions often. I found mentors in friends of friends.
No one ever told me that no one knows everything. I spent the first four years of running my own company absolutely terrified, thinking, “God I’m going to be found out”. I’m just winging it and trying my best. It wasn’t until I went to the States and started networking that I realised everyone was just faking it until they made it.
WHAT CHALLENGES/STRUGGLES HAVE YOU FACED IN YOUR CAREER?
People not taking me seriously because I was a young single mum, and people not thinking that I was able to do it. But that put fire in my belly, making me want to do it even more.
The other biggest struggle I had was that whenever I was at work I was worried about the girls, and whenever I was with the girls I was worried about work. It was hard to stop worrying and disconnect myself from being a parent vs CEO.
I realised that what I was doing wasn’t achievable long term and that something had to give, so once I was aware of the problem, I put processes in place within my company so that when I wanted family time with my girls, the business wouldn’t fall apart without me. And when I was at the company rather than with my girls, I reminded myself that I am an awesome mum and they would be there when I got back. It was my decision to be a young mum and to run a company – I had to own it and stop worrying about it.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT ABOUT MENTORSHIP AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
Entrepreneurship is just a spin word, and in my opinion it just means someone who thinks outside of the box of your typical 9 to 5 job. People who want to work their hours around themselves, from the developers here at Rocketmakers to our CEO who built the company from scratch.
Mentorship is so valuable and it doesn’t matter what position people have within a company, everyone should always have a mentor. It’s 100% about who you choose. Just as having an amazing mentor is wonderful, with the wrong mentor you can be sent down a rabbit hole and it can be very detrimental to achieving your goal. I’ve seen people experience bad mentors – all intelligent, but none in sync with what person wants to do with company. You end up with multiple mentors with multiple different visions pulling in different directions.
I love being a mentor – as long as the person is coachable and wants a mentor. I find it really satisfying being able to sit down with someone and make a difference in what they’re doing, and help in any way I can.
WHO DO YOU LOOK UP TO?
I mostly look up to my daughters. I think they absolutely rock and are amazing. They surprise me every day with how mature they are and how incredibly powerful young ladies they’re growing up to be. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
I also look up to my dad – he was in uni studying science and had a fantastic career ahead of him, and he turned that all down to bring up myself and my two sisters. He’s always been an incredible role model and taught me to feel happy and always made me feel loved. That’s pretty incredible for a young guy. I hope that I’ve taken that on with experiences I’ve had in my life.
IS A MALE DOMINATED ENVIRONMENT INTIMIDATING TALENTED WOMEN?
It’s specific to individual companies and the behaviour of the team as a whole. I think that there are fields of work that currently have more men, just as there are fields of work that currently have more women. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be intimidating just because there are more men. Take Rocketmakers for example, where the guys are probably more intimidated by the girls than the other way around! 😉
Thank you so much Rach, I’m so exited to be working with you are an inspiration. Also Rocketmakers are currently recruiting for a Fullstack Developer. Please get in touch with myself or Hannah Sweet to find out more.