Home People Tech Talent: This New Programmer Boosted His Coding Skills To Scale His Own Startup

Tech Talent: This New Programmer Boosted His Coding Skills To Scale His Own Startup

by Muriel Vega

Zachary Aten already had the background of a tech entrepreneur as the founder of blood testing startup Grassroots Labs. However, he felt he was missing an important piece to continue scaling the startup — coding skills. As is often in a founder’s life, Aten decided to split his time between DigitalCrafts’ part-time program and his startup hustle during the day.

“By increasing my technical skills, I have a better understanding of how software development actually works,” says Aten. “As well as the abilities and limitations of a specific technology when using it to solve a problem, and how to inspire, motivate, and hold accountable my team of developers.”

Next on his list to conquer? React Native. Aten wants to apply expanding React knowledge to build more native applications for his ATDC-based company. This programmer feels more at home in the startup world — find out below if he’s a right fit for your emerging startup team.

What program are you graduating from?

I am currently finishing up DigitalCrafts’ Full Stack Flex Program. My main reason for wanting to do a bootcamp was to build up my own technical skills in the most efficient way possible, to better work with my team of developers at my startup. My brother-in-law had completed a bootcamp out in the Bay area and I started searching around for some good programs here in Atlanta.

I knew that I could not travel to another city or do a full-time program because I was building my startup, Grassroots Labs, based out of ATDC at Georgia Tech. DigitalCrafts was highly rated and I jumped on the chance to participate. It has worked out great because I have been able to go to class on nights and weekends, building my development knowledge and skills, while still running my startup during the week.

What is your previous education?

I have a Bachelors of Science in Economics from Georgia Tech with a minor in German.

Why the interest in the technology field?

I have always been interested in computers from a young age. Early on that meant playing around with the insides of my computer, upgrading it so I could play the latest video games. As I have grown older, I see technology, and more specifically software development, as one of the best ways to be creative in life. You can literally create almost anything you want with software and having that freedom to think and build stuff from your own ideas is just awesome to me.

What projects have you worked on?  

The main project that I have worked on is my own startup called Grassroots Labs. We are a healthcare technology platform that enables individuals across the United States to purchase blood testing services needed when visiting the doctor at a significant discount from what people pay at their doctor’s office or at the ER. It is a responsive web application that is easily accessible on a desktop computer or through mobile browsers. I am planning on using my new skills to build some native apps for my applications with React Native.

What tech/tools are essential to you as a developer?

My preferred kit includes Visual Studio Code for creating, managing, and working on projects. The IntelliSense prompts that bring in documentation into the coding project makes it so much easier to write code. Next, would be iTerm2 for work in the console. It is a great tool that is simple and easy to use.

Finally, I have to give a shout out to my Macbook Pro. It is my tried and true friend. I know everyone has their preference on whether they code on Macs or on PCs, but I would have a hard time coding, much less living, without my Macbook Pro.

How do you stay informed and on-top of emerging trends?

I have a Medium digest email that hits my inbox every day with articles written about languages and frameworks I am interested in along with other general happenings in the tech industry.

I also commute into Atlanta via car and on MARTA so I devour podcasts. Some of my tech podcasts are CodePen Radio, JavaScript Jabber, React Native Radio, and the Cyberlaw Podcast. 

What are your best technical or creative skills?

I am an ideas, big picture kind of guy. My economics background always pushes me to ask “how” and “why” things are happening in the world which helps a great deal when looking for opportunities to use software to capture value.

What’s next on your list to learn?

I am interested in building on my React knowledge to start playing around with React Native. The ability to build native apps using Javascript and a framework that I am already familiar with is incredibly valuable to me. As I said before, I am actually planning on building the native apps for my startup using it.

Are you interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?

I love the startup world. I like the freedom to find problems that interest me, think about how one can add / capture value by solving those problems, design solutions and build them using the tools I like. I think that the startup environment is the best place to do that in. As an entrepreneur, I like being a part of growing with a company, starting as a small, passionate group of people, building a business and scaling it to serve thousands of people. It is a super fulfilling process.

Interested in looking at Zachary’s credentials? Here you go! PortfolioLinkedIn, and Github.

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