who am i

Justin Smestad

Back-end Software Engineer

After a successful exit with my own company in 2008, I’ve spent my career seeking out companies that embody the hustle of startups. Most of the recent roles I have taken on can best be described as “Player Coach” where I am hands-on building the product while also providing guidance for others. While I find manager and development roles equally fulfilling, I am just as content in an individual contributor role where I’ll be able to directly shape the product for end-users.

My go-to technical stack for more than 10 years has been Ruby-based (Rails, Sinatra, Hanami). However, recently I’ve been enjoying working on projects that utilize Ember.JS/Angular front-end and a mix of backend languages notably Node.JS, Ruby, and Elixir.
In my time outside the office, I try and spend as much time as I can learning other languages such as Rust, Embedded C/C++, and Go.

skill summary

  • API Design

  • Security

  • Database Design

  • Leadership

  • Project Management

  • Team Growth / Recruitment



Senior Software Engineer / Data Lead - Homebot

Feb 2017 - Current

Coming in as as the fifth employee and first engineering hire. I took on the challenge of redesigning the existing architecture with one that would provide more reliable performance and stability. The new architecture replaced an existing Angular 1.x and Loopback/Node.JS API with React/Ember.JS front-ends powered by a JSONAPI Rails application and a custom SSO/OAuth authentication system.
Homebot is now more than 20 people. To get there, I recruited folks I've worked with in the past to fill critical roles at the company (6 employees to date). This helped us maintain a steady growth path and culture, while also saving thousands of dollars on recruiter costs.

Engineering Director - Spikes Security (acquired by AurionPro)

May 2016 - Oct 2016

I was approached by old boss from NCC Group to re-architect their existing Control Center platform. It was my responsibility to re-deploy an on-premise web app deployment from a custom PHP+jQuery stack onto a modern tech stack (evaluated Ruby, Elixir, and Go as possible fits) using existing resources. During this time the company went through an acquisition by AurionPro and before we were able to begin executing the new architecture, the company was forced to cut staffing due to setbacks in funding necessary to support the new effort.

VP Engineering - AgilData

2015 - 2016

I joined AgilData to take on the challenge of releasing another database product/platform. They had built a simplified streaming database using SQL. I managed the entire engineering and support staff. During my time there, I moved the team to an agile engineering process suited to the distributed environment we operated in. I was also in charge of delivering a stable 6-week release pipeline mirrored after that of Chrome or Ember.JS. - As the company was going for additional funding, the success of Apache Spark made it difficult to close an additional funding round and the company moved to a consulting-based business model.

Lead Software Engineer / Technical Director – NCC Group Domain Services

2013 - 2015

As the first engineer hired by NCC Group, formerly Artemis, for the launch of a security-focused gTLD named .secure (resulted in .trust) I recruited a distributed engineering team to develop an ICANN-compliant stack of microservices. Upon successful launch of the initial prototype and the growth of the engineering team, I was promoted to Technical Director.

As Technical Director, I was put in charge of all customer-facing applications, including the registrar and registry platforms involved in the launch of the .trust gTLD. It was my team’s job to spec out and meet all updated ICANN requirements. I managed a Denver and SF-based team of 8 developers while also acting as chief architect for the projects.

Founder / CEO – Mongo Machine

2010 - 2011

Mongo Machine was a company I bootstrapped that provided a DBaaS platform for MongoDB. The company was acquired by Compose in late 2011.


Computer Science - University of Iowa

Graduated 2008