Today is a special milestone for me. 10 years ago, Imágenes Digitales — my company’s name, before it became BootStudio — was incorporated as a “for real” business. I’d left my job in an architecture office twelve months earlier, to pursue this amazing new “web” thing (I’d seen the internet at the university a few years earlier, before the advent of the www). There was no commercial access to the net in Panama at the time, and I anxiously awaited for the first providers to come online. My first “professional” site was for one of the first ISPs in the country. Imágenes Digitales was the first web shop in the country.
Where are we now? Predictably the web is still around, and more popular than ever. Imágenes is now BootStudio, and we are lucky to count among our customers some of the most important and well-respected organizations in the region. We’ve survived bubbles, crashes, fads, “nightmare” customers, robberies, floods, corrupted hard drives, and everything short of locusts. We’ve built a [small] team of amazing — AMAZING — folks. Ah, my teammates… what can one say? I thank the FSM every day for the folks that I work with. Without these stupendous guys, I’d be writing this from inside a padded cell. (Or, most likely, not at all.)
On the minus side, the web industry in Panama hasn’t developed much in the past ten years, at least not when compared to other countries (or other industries). The market is still small, as is the medium’s penetration. Many prospects still have unrealistic expectations (being kind here), and demand that their websites do things which detract from the user experience. (Make everything blink! And include our jingle in the home page! No, make that the splash page!) In addition, Panama’s commercial online infrastructure is still underdeveloped. With the exception of the banks, very few businesses are actually doing business online. As a result, web jobs aren’t as valued here as they are elsewhere.
Regardless, I’m still in love with the net 10 years later. Ocassionally, while sitting in front of my browser, I still get that tingly sensation that goes up my spine and paralyzes me with joy… THIS IS IT! I’m very lucky to have discovered my life’s work early on. Now here’s to the next ten years!