The Creators Series: Braden Simpson

Learning to code definitely opens doors, it let’s you build anything you want and express your creativity through another medium.

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Riipen is a growing startup that connects students with potential employers through project work. On the exterior, this concept is very simple. But, behind the scenes, Riipen’s Software Architecture, Braden Simpson, uses his coding background to help create this platform that provides an easy solution to a common problem.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a pretty easygoing guy. I grew up on a small island just off Vancouver Island’s north side called Quadra and am a computer science grad from the University of Victoria. I love designing and implementing software, and creating user experiences that people love. I’m an open source contributor, published author in software engineering (ICSE 2013), coffee lover, and foodie.

2. What was the inspiration behind creating Riipen?

I was actually in my first term of graduate school (Software Engineering) and I heard through a prof that a startup was looking for a technical side. I met with Dylan and Dana and instantly fell in love with the concept. I had done about 2 years worth of co-op at 3 different companies at this point, big and small, and the problems that Riipen aimed to address were things I had already experienced - it was an easy sell. I feel like Riipen addresses problems that everyone knows exist, but no one is fixing (at least not well enough).

3. How did you use coding to help create Riipen?

When I joined Riipen, I started the code base from scratch, and it’s gone through a few iterations by now. The first being a rails MVP that got us to release, and served it’s purpose. Ever since I started my university degree (2008) I haven’t done anything but write code for a living, and I think that in order to be good, you have to be constantly learning. With Riipen, I was always working a day job (coding) and then working on Riipen (more coding), and I think that Riipen benefited from my all-programming lifestyle.

4. How is coding involved with the projects you are currently working on?

The concept of Riipen is pretty simple, connect students and recent grads to companies they like through projects, but there’s actually quite a bit going on technically. We’ve got way more to do than we can execute on, so my coding hands are definitely full all the time.

5. Why should everyone learn the basics of coding?

Well I don’t know if everyone needs to know how to code, but definitely (almost) everyone needs to know how software development works, and learning to code would help with that. It’s important for people to be able to know what some basic technical words mean, in order to have meaningful conversations about tech with their coworkers so everyone stays on the same page. Learning to code definitely opens doors, it let’s you build anything you want and express your creativity through another medium.

6. What do you think is the biggest misconception about coding?

People think that coding is really hard to do, or that you have to be really good at math and science. It’s not, and you don’t, for the most part (if you’re working at the Large Hadron Collider then yeah, you should probably know at least some physics). You just have to be focused, be pragmatic, think logically, and yes some math skills might help here and there, but it’s definitely not a blocker.

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring coders wanting to get involved in your line of work?

Find an area that interests you and focus on it. For me, I wanted to quickly create apps that I could publish with the world, so I focused on web. There are an infinite number of things you can code, and all you need to do is find where you thrive and just own it. If you have a fun problem to solve chances are there are some awesome open source projects that can help you out, and don’t be afraid to contribute.

written by: Sim Tatla