When Rodrigo was 12, he didn’t want to go to the beach with his family and instead spent two weeks at an older cousin’s house. This cousin had an internship at the IBM branch in Brazil. “He had this old MSX computer that you had to plug into your TV because they didn’t have monitors back then,” Rodrigo remembers. “When I got there he was putting together that computer. He had a bunch of books on how to write scripts and basic programs. I fell in love and have been programming ever since.”
Programming has been his career for the last eight or nine years. Before starting his own company, he worked for 20 Mile Interactive, where he was employee #2. While working at 20 Mile, Rodrigo attended Start-Up Weekend, where he got first place. Looking back, he says the weekend planted a bug, and helped him in the decision to go out on his own.
Rodrigo left 20 Mile this year and freelanced for a little while before starting a company with Chris O’Brien, who came in third at that same Start-Up Weekend, and received a 40 Under 40 award. Their company, Dative, builds data-driven websites. “We try to make a company’s website be more of a sales tool,” he said. “We started our company three months ago and are booked solid through the end of the year.”
Rodrigo is a web developer, which he says people confuse with web design. “It’s different in the sense that I don’t do any design,” he said. “I just make sure that whatever you need your website to do – I can make it work.” At Dative, Chris handles the design and strategy, while Rodrigo does custom programming and integrations, both in the user interface and the backend. Rodrigo couldn’t say much about their current projects because of non-disclosure agreements, but he did say their clients are on and off Cape.
This bodes well for young people in the tech industry who may want to live on Cape Cod. “For web jobs, it’s more feasible to be on the Cape because you can take on remote work,” he said. “For the generation just fresh out of college, they can’t go straight to market and open a company. They’ll go to work for a company to get some experience, put a portfolio together and then branch out on their own. That’s why people leave the Cape and go to Boston or New York for awhile. But if they’re smart, they’ll come back to the Cape. It’s a great place to live.”
What does Rodrigo see in his own future? While working with other industries, Rodrigo and Chris have found common problems that people struggle with, so in addition to helping companies realize their own projects, they are writing online services and applications. “Along the way we started to identify situations where we could build a tool to help others with specific problems,” Rodrigo said. Again, no spoilers because of confidentiality, but he did say other businesses can “use these tools to make their lives easier.”
Rodrigo hopes to stay on the Cape and doesn’t see himself leaving anytime soon. (Pretty great for a guy who got into programming by avoiding a trip to the beach.)