Five questions for… Darren Beale

What do you do in your day job?

I’ve been getting paid to build websites for around 10 years now, the last 6 of which I’ve been self employed running a small development firm. The first was in London which I exited when we’d had enough of the smoke and my new venture is just over 2 years old, based in the same village as our home on the Worcs/Glos borders.

I’m still trying to strike the right balance between being a manager and developer and I’m not convinced I’ve got it nailed just yet. One thing I am clear on though is that I am much happier keeping the business lean. In London we were a team of 8 full-time and with Siftware it’s just 3, but I’m probably more profitable and I’m certainly a lot more relaxed (though it doesn’t feel like it sometimes).

My skills are quite broad and in addition to the lots of different hats one needs to wear as a small business owner my strongest skills are PHP/MySQL (Symfony ideally), JavaScript and Linux administration. My XHTML/CSS is probably above average though I normally leave the joy of debugging IE6 problems to others.

What do you outside of work, in your 10% time, or when you boss isn’t looking?

Well I’ve 5yr old twins and a 6 month old baby so there’s not much time left over. I’ve definitely jumped on the veg growing bandwagon with this being my first full-on season and I’m really happy with the results so far. I am also about to start a course in carpentry as I feel the need to build something from physical materials for a change. I’m an improving windsurfer and I try to get at least one decent hike in per year.

Why are you attending BathCamp?

The west has one of the most vibrant digital scenes in the UK and every time I go along to a meet-up, whether it’s some informal Underscore geeky beerage, a Skillswap or other industry related event I come away feeling inspired and normally with some new ideas. That and a chance to meet more of the people I’ve encountered on Underscore or Twitter makes it a no-brainer for me and if that’s not enough, a fiver seemed a cheap way to get a new T-shirt.

What are you passionate about?

First and foremost I am determined to see my kids grow up. I am also looking at options that will allow me to be personally involved in producing a percentage of my family’s food every year and we’re (slowly) becoming more in-tune with what food is naturally and locally available in a given season. I also feel strongly that people should return to living within their means and save a percentage of their income for unforeseen circumstances rather than spending every penny on shite that they don’t really need (though I can sometimes be as guilty as the next person when it comes to shiny things with flashing lights)

My wife Cathie and I also have a business idea that we’re working on in our ‘spare spare’ time that we’re both extremely excited about, though it’s too early to discuss openly yet.

What would you fill a bath with, and why?

Prosaic as it might be, I’d fill it with hot water. Then, with a large malt and a good novel, I’d lock the door and retire to it for an hour warning the small people in my house that they’d better not interrupt me, or else.