Parade Profile: James Potter (BSc Computer Science 2012)

Posted in: Parade profiles, Science

Since completing his studies at Bath, James has travelled the world as a digital nomad and now runs his own company of leading B2B databases for podcasts and newsletters. He tells us about teaching himself the basics, asynchronous working and the sport he’s only ever seen at Bath... 

Why did you choose to study at Bath?   

I was actually all set to study economics at Bath until, right before the deadline, I decided to switch to computer science. This was back in 2008 and, as it turned out, the looming financial crisis made me seem accidentally prescient. Why Bath? The Department of Computer Science is among the best in the UK, the city itself is charming (plus not too far from my hometown) and the facilities are great. 


Did you have a particular career in mind when you chose your course?  

The programming bug bit me early and I was already coding PHP when I was 13 (or at least trying to). Honestly, when I started at Bath I had a pretty vague idea of what I wanted to do – I enjoyed programming and I wanted to do that professionally in some way. My placement year helped me to narrow my focus a bit. I think, deep down, the idea of creating my own company always appealed to me and that’s what I ended up doing. 


Can you tell us about your experience of studying here? Any favourite memories, or places to go on campus and in the city?  

Academically, I loved all of the most nerdy projects that let me build stuff. One memorable experience was a coursework project that involved creating an indoor location system using only triangulated Wi-Fi signals. Lots of walking around campus with data cascading across my laptop screen! 

Outside of that, I was very involved in the adventure sports clubs such asclimbing and kayaking. I got to go white-water kayaking in the French Alps. I also discovered an obscure sport called canoe polo that we played in the STV... I’ve yet to see it anywhere since I graduated. 


Describe your career journey since graduating. What is a typical day like in your current role?   

Immediately post-graduation in 2012, I found myself in San Francisco, working for my friend’s nascent tech startup for a few months. But I quickly switched lanes to remote work, back when that was quite an unusual thing to do, taking on freelance projects to create mobile apps and websites, while traveling mostly around Southeast Asia. 

Eventually I began to work on my own projects, and three years ago I started a company to build subscription software B2B databases (Rephonic for podcasts and Reletter for email newsletters) and those are now my full-time focus. 

Right now I’m in Bali, Indonesia, and my routine involves riding my motorbike to my co-working space, where I spend most of my day programming. I have a small team now but we never have any calls or meetings, preferring to work asynchronously. I like to go surfing at sunset to wind down! 


How did your studies help to develop you, professionally and/or personally? If you took part in a placement, can you talk a bit about that experience? 

I became a much better programmer at Bath and got to to learn the fundamentals (especially learning low-level C, compilers and functional programming). I honed my skills a lot but the main benefit to me was learning the foundational stuff. Computer Science certainly set me up well for the ensuing 2010-2022 tech boom. 

I did a placement year at Vodafone in the R&D department and that taught me a lot about the corporate world (to be honest, mostly that I should avoid it) and how to work in a professional team environment. They even let me hire and manage some contractors, which was useful experience. 


What advice would you give to prospective students thinking about studying your course at Bath?  

I’d recommend spending a bit of time learning to code before you arrive. When I landed at Bath, a good number of us already had a foundation in self-taught programming and I imagine that would be a bit intimidating if you’re starting from zero! 

Posted in: Parade profiles, Science

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