About Red Comet Labs

Red Comet Labs is a full-stack web development company and we're JavaScript specialists. On the Red Comet Labs team is founder and senior developer, Garren Smith and Ben Janecke, developer and CSS expert.

Garren Smith

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Hi, I’m Garren, founder of Red Comet Labs. You're probably on this page because you want all the details, so I'll start at the beginning...

I studied Electrical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand and although I found the high-voltage side of things interesting, the programming and electronics part of my studies had me hooked straight away. My first job was at an embedded development company, where I programmed embedded electronic devices in C and wrote server-side code in C#.

I decided to start contracting when the opportunity came up to be a developer and Agile coach at one of the big banks. When I joined the team, they hadn’t pushed any of their work to production, and I was tasked to change that – quickly. Within a month, we pushed our first release, and released every two weeks after that. The product we developed went on to win an award for innovation at the bank. The Agile tools and methods really helped the team to get things done. Nowadays, I use Agile and Scrum methodologies to help streamline the development process, but I’m not dogmatic about it. What matters most is getting an excellent release into production, and an awesome product shipped, with a happy team at the end of it all.

In 2011, it was time for me to start my own company and so I founded Red Comet Labs. I started off by contracting as a Ruby-on-Rails developer. In my first project, I integrated with a team of developers who were building a Rails app for the motor industry.

After doing client work for a while, I took some time off to build Classroom 7 with my wife, Shelley. Building a web application like Classroom 7 has been an amazing journey for us both – we’ve learnt about product development, marketing and sales, not to mention all the technical knowledge I’ve had to build up to keep the app functioning without a hitch.

At the same time, I also started exploring Node.js and using Javascript on the server as well as in the browser. This is where my passion lies at the moment, as I love building user-friendly single-page applications. Originally I really enjoyed building these kinds of applications using Backbone.js, but I have since moved on to React.js, as it allows for a more intuitive development approach.

I have always been a regular contributor to open source code and in 2012, I got involved in building Fauxton, the new web interface for CouchDB. I am now an Apache CouchDB Project Management Committee (PMC) Member and a PouchDB Contributor. 

Because of my involvement with Fauxton, the development team at Cloudant asked me to join their team as a consultant developer to help build their Cloudant Dashboard, which uses CouchDB. Cloudant has since been acquired by IBM, an acquisition that means increased growth and investment in the CouchDB community and in cloud data storage – something we are very excited about at Red Comet Labs.