Originally published in Finnish on dude.fi.
Seven years and eight months ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. I was in need of new challenges, and the hustle and bustle of Helsinki had started to wear on my soul.
Dude was also at a crossroads around the same time. On the coding side, they needed additional support when Kristian joined as the second designer alongside the existing dynamic duo of developer and designer.
By some magical coincidence, our paths converged at that crossroads around the same time, and the conversation came up in an IRC chat with my friend. That friend happened to be Roni “Rolle” Laukkarinen, one of the founders of Dude, with whom I had been discussing WordPress and life for several years.
We met up for a drink (or several) in early February and talked for many hours. In fact, it felt like I was talking to old friends, and the conversation flowed smoothly from the beginning. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way because they asked me to join the team early the next morning.
That evening was undoubtedly one of the most pivotal moments in my life so far. I took up the offer and moved to Jyväskylä for work, swimming against the current as the mainstream flowed towards Helsinki. The rest, as they say, is history.
Some time ago, Dude and I find ourselves at another crossroads. However, it’s not a traditional T-junction where we go in different directions. This crossroads is more like a Y, where we must decide which branch to take.
After a long and difficult discussion at the crossroads, I decided to take a different path from Dude. So, our paths will diverge, but not completely. We will continue our journeys on parallel roads, working with WordPress, and along the way, these paths will surely intersect on smaller dirt roads.
My last working days were in Tampere, where I helped to organize the WordCamp Finland event on September 14-15th.
The end of our shared journey at a WordPress community event feels somewhat like a magical coincidence as well.
I met Rolle for the first time in person at WordCamp Finland in 2015. We have always participated in the community events and, every year, the developer team has traveled somewhere in Europe for WordCamp Europe.
Throughout these years, the company has supported and enabled my involvement in the beloved WordPress community, from organizing monthly meetings to participating in podcasting and mentoring the world’s largest community event.
A lot has happened since February 2016, both in and out of work.
As a company, Dude, with Juha, Roni, and especially Kristian, helped me not only with the practical aspects of moving but also with settling into the city. Kristian even took care of my cat during my trips to Helsinki when he was allergic to cats. With Rolle, we solved the world’s problems over a special-tasting beer, and I went cycling with Juha or took a bike taxi after a night out. Over the years, colleagues turned into good friends.
From the very beginning, I was involved in and was taken into the entrepreneurial side of running the company. We even once watched the company’s account balance together at a Monday meeting and wondered how to pay the first employee (me) a salary. We got through that, and salaries have always been paid on time.
So, it was almost natural when I had the opportunity to join Dude’s select group of partners in 2019. At that time, Dude had a strength of five, soon to be six people, which felt like a huge leap at the time. Currently, Dude’s headcount is 11, and the company has grown into a seriously respected digital agency. We have been incredibly fortunate with the people we have hired at Dude. Everyone has brought something valuable – skills, learning, or experience.
And indeed, the years have offered a wealth of learning and experience, not only in coding but also in business, teamwork, sales, marketing – everything you can imagine running such a growing circus requires.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without amazing clients and partners. Thanks to your trust, I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of unique and exciting websites and services. I wouldn’t have believed at the start of my career that I would get to work on projects with such diverse needs and challenges. Thank you for the projects, meetings, brainstorming sessions, and years. Even the tough times have been instructive moments.
Doing anything alone is not possible, of course. Thanks also go to current and former team members: Henri, Kari, Niku, Riku, Tuomas, Elias, Jenni, Joni, Miska, Luka, Arto, and Maria. All of you have given me the opportunity to learn, and hopefully, you’ve learned something from me as well.
Thanks also go to countless acquaintances who have been along for the ride, offering help, support, and a listening ear when needed. It hasn’t always been easy for you either when Dude has been running at full speed.
Thanks also to you, the reader. I have always been pleasantly surprised by how many people follow Dude, and even strangers have come up to say hello in various situations. Clearly, Dude’s positive vibe has managed to shine through to outsiders as well.
The biggest thanks go to Roni, Juha, and Kristian. Thank you for taking that leap of faith and trusting me, and for continuing to trust me. Thank you for this rollercoaster ride of body and mind.
As a good acquaintance said: the world keeps rolling, and we need to roll along with it. See you at WordPress community events and other occasions! My journey in web development is far from over.