Meet the SpareFeet: Software Developer Jahn Veach Savors ‘Once in a Lifetime’ Job

By    March 21, 2014

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Fresh out of the University of Texas, Jahn Veach joined SpareFoot back in February 2010, when the company truly fit the hard-core definition of a startup.

“At the time, SpareFoot was a five-person company with an uncertain future. The opportunity to help guide and build a company from the ground up was irresistible,” Veach said. “Because I had just graduated from college and didn’t have much to lose if things went south, I felt that this was a once-in-a-lifetime offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Things certainly haven’t gone south. Veach now is a member of a robust Development Team at SpareFoot, and we employ more than 120 people. By the end of the year, the SpareFoot crew should number about 160.

Trust Factor
Having just celebrated his fourth anniversary at SpareFoot, Veach said one reason he’s remained here is that the company trusts employees to complete their work with minimal oversight.

“Everyone has their own way of getting the job done, and as long as you’re doing your job well, you’ll be given a lot of autonomy that simply doesn’t exist in other workplaces,” he said.

You’ll often find me out exploring the latest that Austin’s awesome restaurant scene has to offer.
— Jahn Veach, software developer, SpareFoot

What is the SpareFoot workplace like? First and foremost, Veach said he greatly values his teammates.

“Never before have I worked with such an enthusiastic group of hard-working people,” he said. “I also like that SpareFoot has collectively created a work culture that emphasizes merit over politicking.”

Plus, access to a fully stocked kitchen and chef-prepared lunches “makes it that much easier to get out of bed in the morning,” said Veach, who’s affectionately known around the office as Toni (pronounced Tone-EYE).

sunrise

SpareFoot’s kitchen makes it easier to wake up each day, Jahn Veach says.

Rise and Shine
After getting out of bed in the morning, Veach puts his skills to work as a back-end software developer. He said a lot of his day-to-day activities involve creating tools for other SpareFoot developers and extracting data from SpareFoot’s database “in an organized, consistent way.”

Recently, Veach helped set up a faster version of the search engine that powers the websites in SpareFoot’s self-storage network. Another project that he’s tackled is TenantConnect. This platform initiates a follow-up phone call from a storage facility client to a storage consumer shortly after the booking of a unit happens on SpareFoot. Not long ago, TenantConnect was featured in a case study by telecom technology provider Twilio.

(If you’re a developer who’d like to work with Veach on those types of projects, check out the jobs page on the SpareFoot website.)

“Self-storage has traditionally been a low-tech industry, so a lot of the enjoyment I get out of my work comes from using SpareFoot’s technology and expertise to create novel solutions to longstanding problems that affect everyone in storage, from small mom-and-pop facilities to larger operators,” Veach said.

technology

Veach enjoys keeping up with the technological demands at SpareFoot.

Above and Beyond
From a technical perspective, Veach said his team’s biggest challenge has been keeping up with demand from self-storage consumers and self-storage facilities as the popularity of SpareFoot grows.

“As a development team, we do a great job of getting the most out of the technology we have,” he said, “while exploring new solutions that are going to take us beyond our current limitations.”

Generalize, Not Specialize
Veach said the Development Team emphasizes two qualities.

“First,” he said, “we believe that it’s better to generalize than specialize. We encourage our developers to learn about everything in our codebase, not just the specific products they work on regularly. As a result, we have a more consistent codebase overall, and we can easily bring different developers into existing projects as necessary, with minimal overhead.”

Secondly, the Development Team believes in frequent—and sometimes imperfect—product releases, Veach said.

“We don’t obsess over perfect products, and instead rely on constant feedback and quick iteration to bring new products and features to our consumers and clients,” he said. “This often requires you to be able to think on your feet and prototype approximate solutions without knowing exactly what the ‘correct’ solution is.”

Kome

Komé is one of Veach’s favorite restaurants in Austin.

Food and Fun
All right, so enough about Jahn Veach the software developer. Who is Jahn Veach the person?

Around SpareFoot, he’s known as a fun-loving, outgoing guy with a big smile. (We could tell you some stories, but we’ll leave that for another time.)

Outside the confines of SpareFoot, Veach considers himself an “amateur foodie.”

“You’ll often find me out exploring the latest that Austin’s awesome restaurant scene has to offer,” he said.

Among the places he explores most often are Japanese restaurants Komé and Musashino Sushi Dokoro; pizza restaurants East Side Pies and Little Deli & Pizzeria; and Mexican restaurants Julio’s Café and Tacodeli.

Some of his other current faves are:

  • “New American” restaurant Odd Duck.
  • Seafood restaurant Perla’s.
  • Vietnam restaurant Tam Deli & Café.
  • “Asian fusion” food trailer East Side King.

chess board

Veach is an avid chess player.

Veach also is an avid chess player—mostly online. “But I’ll drop in on the Austin Chess Club whenever they host an over-the-board tournament,” Veach said.

My Name Is Jahn
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask Jahn Veach about the unusual spelling of his first name.

“I’ve often been asked why my name is spelled the way it is, and I usually just make up a reason,” he said, “but here’s the real story: My dad and older brother are both named John, and when I came along, they named me Jahn with an ‘a’ so that we wouldn’t get our mail mixed up. That makes sense, right?”

John is editor of The SpareFoot Blog. He first moved to Austin in 1999, when downtown Austin wasn't nearly as lively as it is today. John's loves include pizza, University of Kansas basketball and puns.

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