Combining Work and Travel
Startup founder and full-stack developer Kevin Hashimoto’s road to career freedom and a life of work and travel.
Kevin Hashimoto spent the first few years out of high school toying with two opposite sides of the career spectrum, and it was time to land somewhere in the middle.
Film school had fed his creative side—but, Kevin realized, it would also lead to an industry with demanding hours. The unpredictable lifestyle wasn’t appealing to him.
Then, business school. The field was highly practical and more likely to result in the kind of life he wanted. But he also found it terribly boring. That was when the stress about his life’s direction started creeping in. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he says. “I had taken the safe route because I was just trying to figure out what interested me.”
Luckily, a gap year that Kevin took between studying film and business planted a seed that would guide his next move. “I went to Japan for a year and a half,” he tells. “I played a lot of ultimate frisbee, a lot of long boarding. I traveled throughout Asia for tournaments.” The freedom he felt while traveling was addictive, and he never could shake the idea that a life working remotely was his ideal setup.
Third time’s a charm
Even though Kevin had learned that business school wasn’t for him, he had a new motive: to start his own company. That way he could be creative with the business while having the freedom he craved. But he still needed to acquire more skills to get there, and it was clear to him by now that the university route didn’t suit him. “Maybe it just wasn’t for me, but I think a lot of the university programs are lacking in what’s new in the industry,” he says. “Especially for business.”
Somewhere along the way, the idea of web development struck a chord with him. “I’m a very DIY person so I thought coding was a great route because it fits in with my interests,” Kevin says. “Plus the job opportunities for working remotely sounded good.”
Some digging into tech institutes that offered coding programs brought RED Academy Vancouver to his attention. The fact it offered a Full-Stack Developer program appealed to him. “There weren’t too many schools that were doing this comprehensive program like RED,” he explains. “The full-stack program was enticing because, with the way the industry is moving, people are on their phones a lot. The app industry is taking off.” And, of course, the RED classroom was anything but a university setting.
The struggle is real
Often times the hardest part of moving forward is deciding where to point next. But in Kevin’s case, the hard work wasn’t over after enrolling in RED’s Full-Stack Developer program. “Learning how to code was very intense,” he admits. “I found it difficult, but I think I have a bit of a different way of learning than most other people. I don’t take in what the teachers say very easily.”
And yet, while the struggle was real, it also kept things interesting. “I get bored really easily and I need something that always has new challenges,” Kevin puts it simply. “So coding was perfect for that because every day there was something to learn.”
Through the ultra-supportive structure of RED’s small classroom style, some essential friendships formed. “I had a great group of friends in the program, and we all pushed each other to finish projects,” he tells. With the support of his classmates and instructors, the coding clicked one day. By the end of the program Kevin felt confident and proud of his new skillset, eager to launch a business.
An unexpected and welcome turn
Less than a year after graduating from RED, Kevin is on his second startup. The first one, a collaborative platform called Burnt Pineapple, is running on its own. Now Portendorf is his latest development—a branding agency that Kevin has had his creative way with. “The agency is being designed to provide a mix of traditional and modern designs,” he explains. “That’s where the inspiration for the name Portendorf came from. It’s a variation of an English last name—and it fit with all the criteria I was looking for.”
But the most surprising turn since graduating from RED is the perfect arrangement he’s found with his full time role at ElementIQ in Vancouver. “I stumbled across this post on the RED’s Facebook alumni group about an internship program,” he remembers in a blog post he wrote for ElementIQ in Vancouver. “I was a little hesitant to apply because I thought I wouldn’t be able to grow as a developer in a marketing agency.”
He took a shot anyways and, after landing the gig, quickly realized that he’d hit the jackpot. Not only did he find that ElementIQ was big on personal growth, it also offered two remote days a week. He has since accepted a full time role, and has already found more freedom than he thought possible in a job. “In the summer, I flew to Japan for a month and a half and worked remotely,” he says positively. “I have a lot of freedom working for them, while also getting a grasp of how an agency works.”
A life of work and travel
Now that Kevin is growing and advancing in his ideal direction, he can take a moment to reflect on the decisions that got him here. “I’ve always felt that the traditional school system was a little broken,” he continues in his blog post. “Admittedly, going to RED was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.”
Kevin plans to travel to Montreal and Korea next spring. His next step for Portendorf is to get incorporated before accepting select new clients. It looks like a life of work and travel may just be the standard for Kevin from here on out.
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Written by Carly Walde
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