Keep Moving Forward

When Skyline was only a couple of years old, I used to wonder why most Kenyan companies said little to nothing about the work they do. The most I could find were general “About Us” pages, but no real storytelling or even just formal case studies.

And yet here we are; this post comes almost 15 months after the previous one!

I’ve bumped into peers lately who’ve asked, “What happened to you guys? You’ve been too quiet!”

Well, a lot has happened, and I can’t go into all of it, but here’s what we think you should know:

1. Constant Migraines

First, is that the Martian crew has been in a very difficult place because our Lead Developer, Brian Wangila, has been incapacitated for most of this year and last by incessant, unbearably debilitating migraines. You have no idea how much David and I wish we could even loan him our heads so he can have a little respite. You see, we are more than a convenient business partnership; we are brothers in Christ. And even though it’s been hard on all of us, Wangila is a brother and a Martian, and we’re with him through this. We’d rather take on smaller and fewer projects than lose him in the name of profit. Having seen what he’s been through, and seeing him continue to endure without cursing God, I can say he is the strongest person I have ever met, and we are honored to have him. Please read about his condition, and say a prayer for him if you can (P.S. He’s been to India and back with no permanent success, and has dealt with every single neurosurgeon in the country, so please resist the urge to offer advice unless you’re at that level)

Of course the impact on the team is more than just man-hours. Morale hasn’t been the same. It’s hard to be in the zone when a third of your team is in constant pain. But until Wangila get’s well, we have nonetheless embraced that this is who we are, weaknesses and all. And even though we walk with a limp, we’re still walking and striving to be faithful with the Martians, skills, and yes, limitations handed to us by a good and perfect God. We don’t know how he will do it, but we trust that his strength will ultimately be made perfect in our weaknesses.

2. Shifting Markets

When we started out in 2008, we didn’t know any other company that was doing custom web design. By custom I mean starting from paper and pen wireframes, moving on to Photoshop & Illustrator design, then onto front end and finally back end code. Over the years we’ve met a handful of individuals, but as far as companies are concerned there are only two that we can unreservedly refer extra work to, to date. Cheap templates have always been the norm (I’ve personally written against them for over 6 years now)

And it’s getting worse.

Throw bloated front end frameworks into the mix (I’m looking at you, Bootstrap) and what you have is an industry made up mostly of half-hearted, money-hungry masqueraders putting up sites that are barely functional. And because the design sense of many clients is as good as their ability to match clothes, ghastly websites are launched (and celebrated) every year.

An amateur who charges 80K per template site and does 5 websites a month makes more money than a company that does one custom website in 6 weeks and charges 400K.

Such is life.

There was a point in time when we were actually thinking of shutting down the company. I even tried to find a protégé—to no avail.

But as providence would have it, we are currently making promising connections with marketing agencies abroad. Since our skills are at par, yet our prices are only a fraction of what overseas companies would gladly pay for, it makes sense to focus on the international market. A time may very well come when Skyline won’t take on local work. We wouldn’t want that to happen, but what are we to do? You never miss the water …

3. Humbling Failures

Lastly, I must admit that the Martians are a lot more humble than when we began. Man, we knew everything back then, didn’t we?!

But as the years go by you begin to realize just how much you actually don’t know. You make mistakes, mistakes that almost get you sued for millions. You accumulate a depressing number of unsatisfied clients, whether by your own fault or not. Even though (I think) we have a solid reputation, I cannot help but feel a little uncertainty when someone says they’ve heard of us, because I know there’s enough people out there who don’t think we’re all that. And that’s very humbling.

We’ve missed deadlines. We’ve procrastinated final touches for weeks. We’ve mismanaged projects. We’ve replied emails and returned missed calls way too late. We’ve faced DDoS attacks we were not prepared for.

We are not perfect, and quite frankly most of the time we’re figuring out stuff as we go along (despite the certificates and Computer Science degrees). But we’re honest, and passionate, and resilient, and contrite … so I’d like to sincerely apologize to everyone we’ve failed. We will strive to do and be better.

From where we stand, the future is hazy, and as always it’s completely in God’s hands to direct or terminate as he wills … but as captain of this ship I believe that our best work is yet ahead of us.

So like Schwarzenegger, we’ll be back. And we’ll keep moving forward. Lord willing.

Martian out.

Signed. Martians.