“My dad spent his entire career in IT,” Beadenkopf said. “Growing up, different generations of computers were passed to my sister and I like hand-me-downs. If there was something I wanted to do on an old computer, I had to figure out how to make it work on my own.”
Later, as a product design student at Drexel, Beadenkopf’s interest in how things work expanded to their daily method of transportation: the bicycle. They began working in bike shops learning the ins and outs of designing custom bike frames and parts.
After their focus shifted to coding, Beadenkopf — at the tail end of Springboard’s coding bootcamp — found a support developer position turned backend engineer role at Fastmail that checked all the boxes for a curious-minded developer with product design instincts.
“Fastmail is made for people like me,” Beadenkopf said. “The work is full of fun brain exercises — new stuff to learn, problems to solve, bugs to fix, new features to work on.”
Fastmail is an independent email provider offering ad-free products and services for as little as $3 per month. Established in Australia, Fastmail planted roots in Philly when it acquired Pobox in 2015. In contrast to “free” email providers like Google, which make money by selling your data to advertisers, Fastmail offers privacy-focused features like alternative and masked email addresses to protect its users from tracking, unwanted ads, data leaks and spam.
Prior to finding a job with the email provider, Beadenkopf was a customer.
“The mission is great,” they said. “In general, I think it’s important no one company — like Google — controls too much of any one thing. Fastmail does a great job with privacy, but it also just makes a great email platform.”
Beadenkopf personally appreciates the Fastmail features that enable them to use email as a productivity tool, such as masks and aliases that hide your true email address from subscription lists. It also has an intuitive automatic email filing system, and an overall product that is both easy to use and customize.
And that’s another thing they love about working for Fastmail — everything the company builds, every new feature added, is based on users’ actual needs.
“You can’t just slap on a new widget and say issues are fixed, you need to understand how people are gonna use the product,” they said. “The perspective of the customer is really important to us.”
With seemingly endless interests, Beadenkopf spent the pandemic designing and prototyping custom mechanical keyboards, and sharing them with the open source community. The process cemented in them the value of understanding users’ most nuanced, complex needs to create products that are truly useful. That entrepreneurial spirit has also aided Beadenkopf’s growth at Fastmail.
“Starting in an entry-level support role, different areas of interest jumped out at me,” they said. “I figured out what I wanted to pursue more deeply, and everyone at the company was willing to help me get where I wanted to go. When it comes to growth in your career here, you can make what you want of the opportunities.”
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