Old Blue and Liverpool University 2020 graduate James Saeed, from the Class of 2017, has always had a passion for coding. Since leaving Blue Coat three years ago James has developed his knowledge and understanding of Computer Science through his degree and by completing a series of industry placements. Now a fully fledged university graduate James has wasted no time and is now the founder of digital product agency Eledev.
We caught up with James to find out more.
What triggered your initial interest and enthusiasm for technology and coding?
“My Dad is a huge technology enthusiast, so growing up I’d just absorbed a lot of the enthusiasm from him. He spotted this and introduced me to role models like Bill Gates when I was very young. The success stories of people like Gates, and the impact they were able to have on the world with their passion was something that really resonated with me and has stuck with me ever since.”
You founded Eledev, a digital product agency in 2019, how did that come about and what can you tell us about Eledev? Is this something you work on full time?
“Having my own tech company is something I’d always dreamed about growing up. In 2019, I’d published the iOS app Hour Blocks, which was met with more success than I’d ever imagined. This led me to believe that my dream could actually be feasible. Fast forward a year later, and running Eledev Digital is now my full time job, having even hired my first employees. Nowadays, Eledev is still working on Hour Blocks, along with developing software for various clients.”
What is the hardest thing about working in the tech industry?
“Bugs. They can be so incredibly demotivating, as you can easily find yourself spending a whole week on the tiniest thing that’s keeping the entire project from moving forward. Sometimes an entire feature has to be completely abandoned because of too many bugs, which can be incredibly heartbreaking.”
What do you love most about the industry?
“The micro-reward system that software development brings. When you’re writing code, you’re in a pretty regular feedback loop. Each time you compile your code, you know if it ran successfully or not, which is a routine that occurs potentially hundreds of times a day. Each successful run is incredibly rewarding- especially when it comes to a bug fix or an experimental feature. It’s the same feeling as picking up a valuable item or defeating a boss in a video game.”
How do you keep your skills up to date?
“In the last few years, I’ve mostly specialised in developing for Apple’s software platforms, so I mostly focus on keeping my skills up to date in this area. Every year, Apple hosts a Worldwide Developer Conference where all the new features of iOS, macOS and watchOS are announced, followed by a week-long session of labs to help developers take advantage of these new features in their apps. They also offer labs on design principles, accessibility practices, language features, and much more. So each year, I make sure to pick out all the labs that interest me, and dive knee deep.
Outside of this yearly ritual, I ocassionally try to take on projects outside of my specialisation to keep my skills sharp industry-wide. For example, I recently had my first experience developing a server-side application with one of my clients.”
Do you have a particular interest / specialism within the sector? I see you published a video on augmented reality recently on your YouTube channel
“I’m very fond of developing for Apple’s software platforms. They provide excellent development tools and resources that make producing software for their platforms a very pleasing experience.
Outside of this, augmented reality is an area I’m very keen on (for which Apple also provides fantastic development tools) and is actually a large priority at Eledev Digital. We’ve been prioritising working on augmented reality projects and hope to position ourselves to be experts within the field.”
You have published quite a few tutorials on your YouTube channel, do you enjoy sharing your skills with others? Was this a platform you used to broaden your own skills?
“Publishing tutorials on YouTube was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Intially, I just had a desire to share what little knowledge I had at the time, but the experience showed me that teaching is one of the most effective ways to accelerate your own learning. My teaching experience has also come in extremely useful in mentoring employees at Eledev Digital and in building valuable connections in my network that I would have never had if I didn’t have a reputation for teaching programming.”
Away from the computer screen what do you like to get up to?
“I absolutely love expressing myself musically, so if I’m not at my computer you’ll find me with my guitar!”
Quick Fire Round
What was the first computing language that you learned?
What is your favourite computer language and why?
“Swift- simple and elegant yet extremely powerful!”
Is there a particular tech company that you would you love to work for or would you prefer to be your own boss?
“I think I love being my own boss too much to give it up at the moment, but at some point in the future I’d love to join any of the following from Apple, Airbnb, or Twitter if given the opportunity.”
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“”Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs”
What is your favorite video game?
“Minecraft- almost all of my free time throughout Blue Coat was spent on it!”