A borderline cold brew coffee addict and a Florida native currently residing in Tampa, Florida, my name is Alexander Smith (Alex). If I had to describe a "personal mission statement" , I'd say that mine is to provide others with opportunities - especially if it helps them move up the so-called socio-economic ladder.
While I call Tampa home, I was born in Baltimore, MD and I've been to Germany more times than my fingers permit me to count. I have a black belt in Taekwondo (it's been awhile though). I originally planned to join the military and was in ROTC in High School. My friends call me an adrenaline junkie because I love anything with an engine. I've had experience with 4-wheelers, go-karts, boats, jet skis, motorcycles, sports cars, and more. If it goes fast, I'm interested. Speaking of interested, want to learn more? You can read more about...
How I went from flipping burgers at the neighborhood DQ to Wall Street.
How I retired from being a corporate mercenary and became a Full-Stack Developer at a startup.
And while we're still talking about me, you can hire me to help you!
Quick timeline of professional experience
Clicking on the company titles will take you to the section of my story describing the position. You can also check out my resume here.
Where I've been
You don't know where you're going until you know where you've been.
From flipping burgers at the neighborhood DQ to Wall Street. I've been working since I was 15 years old, and it all started at the local DQ Grill & Chill. Looking back, it was a blast working with friends and making my own money. After DQ, I worked at Papa John's, literally "making dough".
Upon graduating high school, I moved from Tampa to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida on scholarship. I started as an Accounting major. I was convinced that with my math skills, it was all but decided for me. Then, I stumbled upon an organization called the Young Investors Club where I was bit by the "stock market bug". I quickly changed my major to Finance with a certificate in investments. Soon after, I landed a paid internship at a local Scottrade branch (brokerage firm) in my sophomore year. I was fully immersed in the finance world, I was studying it, working in it, and loving it! For the summer of my junior year, I took a leave of absence from Scottrade to move to New York City for an internship with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. At this point I was only confirming what I already knew: I wanted to live and work on Wall Street. After that summer, the structured products team offered me a full-time position. That senior year was a blast. Once I had my degree in hand, I sold my soul, threw on a suit, and caught the next flight to NYC to start my new life in the "real world".
I was in the honeymoon phase and loving every second of it. My summer internship had been a rotation program, so I had the opportunity to experience many different teams, but now I was on the structured products team full-time. What is a structured product? Here is more information with examples and visuals made by yours truly.
So what did I do? I would model and price these products by analyzing roughly 15 different input variables (read: buzzwords) such as the delta, vega, and strike price to determine the present value of the structured product, given the current stock market conditions at that time (interest rates, trading volumes, etc.). See, I told you it was magic.
So there I was, making more money than I realistically knew how to spend wisely in one of the most highly sought after destinations in the world, New York City. My parents were proud. My peers were envious. By most definitions of where I'm from, I had more than made it.
But I hated it. I left.
I wish I could say that it was just that quick and easy, I didn't like it so I left. But the truth is it took me a couple of years to muster the strength to toss away everything I had worked so hard to get my entire life. To start over. But really, it was a quite the journey to that final decision. I remember, my last day of work was on a Thursday, and the next day I was on a flight at 10:30 am back to Florida to take some time off for a few months.
I then joined a fellowship called Venture For America (VFA). I encourage you to check them out, but the short of it is they're a non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of the economy by recruiting top talent to join startups outside the major hubs (i.e. San Francisco, New York, etc.) in places such as Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. By doing this, fellows gain invaluable experience on what it takes to start a company. After the fellowship, VFA has ample resources to help fellows start their own venture, and thereby creating more jobs in the economy.
This is what brought me to Columbus, Ohio. I spent a year doing my part to give back by working with organizations dedicated to helping first-generation students and students of underrepresented backgrounds get into college. By leveraging technology and mentorship, we were able to help thousands of students get into college who otherwise likely would have never gone. As a first-generation college student myself, this was very fulfilling and I was happy to feel like I was making a difference.
Over time, as I continued to work more with technology, I realized my previous coding experience was something I was constantly gravitating back towards, so I decided to upgrade it from a hobby to my sole focus.
I began coding with every minute of my spare time and teaching myself new languages. To top it all off, I received a full scholarship to attended a coding bootcamp, Tech Talent South, to meet other people looking to change career paths and to take my skills even further.
From there, I landed a gig at TicketFire where I was a Full-Stack Software Engineer working on some really cool things!
With TicketFire you can buy, sell, and digitize your event tickets. That means you can take a picture from our mobile apps of that Columbus Crew ticket you have (or should have, go Crew!), and text it to your friends.
From a technology perspective, it's even more exciting. Because we scanned images for event information to turn into tickets, because at their core tickets are a digital asset, and because we have a live exchange/marketplace with 100,000+ events across 5,000+ venues around the world, I've been lucky enough to work on some very challenging and rewarding projects. The algorithms, 3rd party API integrations, and sheer size of the platform all made it a lot of fun to work on. Being one of three developers, I was able to take on a lot of responsibility and leadership very quickly. I was also very fortunate to be able to work with two of the best developers and mentors that Columbus (and beyond) has to offer, Larry Scott and Dwight Scott.
Then life brought me to Cincinnati.
Where I am
Our DNA is 96% chimpanzee. Is that even worth arguing?! If I gave you a sandwich that was filled with 96% sh*t and 4% ham, would you be willing to consider that a ham sandwich? So If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe. - Joe Rogan
I've always wanted to get back to the finance world I left behind. Longing for a new professional challenge to coincide with my move, I landed a new gig as a Software Engineer at Intrinio, a fintech startup working to democratize financial data, based out of my hometown, Tampa, Florida.
About 6 months later, some life events brought me back home to Tampa, Florida. Go Lightning ⚡️.
Transitioning into big data, a M-A-S-S-I-V-E platform, and new technologies has been a blast. At Intrinio we use several languages and frameworks including, but certainly not limited to:
We build APIs, Excel plugins, Google Sheets plugins, and more that make it easy for enterprises, developers, funds, etc. to get the data and licensing they need. We've become experts in the Data Journey and it's exciting to contribute to such explosive growth here at Intrinio.
Currently, I'm working on long-term project that involves building several new products around Cryptocurrencies. Did you know that Cat Coins are actually a thing? I certainly didn't.
A few highlights of what I've accomplished so far:
- Using a proprietary and custom built ETL platform, I wrote integrations with 3rd parties to normalize millions of data points, daily.
- Developed a real-time integration using Elixir and Phoenix to stream, on average, ~10,000 messages per second including Cryptocurrency trades and Cryptocurrency book updates for more than 1,000 Cryptocurrency pairs across 20+ exchanges.
- Created a distributed computing setup with Elixir to more efficiently stream thousands of stock prices per second to users at scale.
- Developed several new data feeds for users such as Cryptocurrencies, Forex prices, Municipality Financials, and more. The process of building a data feed typically consists of integrating with 3rd parties to consume the data, building the endpoints, documentation, unit tests, integration tests, and updating SDKs.
- Built a technical-analysis gem , an open-sourced Ruby library for performing technical analysis on stock prices and other data sets.
- Built API endpoints, search engine, and interface to search over 1,000,000 8-K filings from the SEC. For example, a user could search for something like "((lawsuit OR fraud) AND Q4 NOT 2017)" and the endpoints would return all 8-Ks matching the specified logic including text snippets where the matches were found.
One of my life goals is to open doors for others. Another way to think of this is to provide more opportunities to others to better themselves. In pursuit of this, I moved to LA and I've joined Iron Tree. With Iron Tree I cofounded and built Justice by Iron Tree which is a platform that helps to erase unjust cannabis records. Our automated and simplified process saves victims weeks of stress and thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Recently I joined the team at DEV working remotely as a Software Engineer! If you're not already familiar, DEV is an open-source community of software developers getting together to help one another out.
Currently, I'm on the Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team with Molly Struve who is DEV's Lead Site Reliability Engineer. Together the SRE team makes sure the platform remains scalable and performant for our 5mm+ unique monthly vistiors.
DEV has quite the tech stack. The highlights include:
- Ruby on Rails
- and more!
Oh yeah, I also decided to use the remote flexibility and after 10 years of being away...I moved back to Tampa! 😎
Where I'm going
I don't regret the things I've done, only the things I've never tried.
This year I'm trying something a little different by setting quarterly goals.
|Get a tattoo||
|Start taking drum lessons||
|Rescue a dog||
|Start the skydiving license journey||
|Buy a house||
Here you can see past goals and progress.
Hobbies and interests
Hobbies and interests can be so vague...I like to think of this section as answers to the question of, "what are some things that you would go out of your way to do in your free time?". But that's not a cool title so I still call these hobbies and interests.
Playing the drums
Music / speakers
Here are some of my favorite books that I've read (in no particular order).
Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World
by Bradley Hope, Tom Wright
Favorite music artists
According to my Spotify analytics my top artist for 2019 was a band called Our Last Night. 68% of my time is spent listening to rap and hip-hop. This (loosely) translates to my rock music selections being more specific, given a rock band was my top artist last year.
Here are some of my favorite music artists**:
Our Last Night
Bring Me The Horizon
Louis The Child*
A Day To Remember
Red Hot Chili Peppers*
* I've seen them perform live.
** This is not, by any means, a full list.