Hey there! My name is Calix, and I'm a self-taught startup engineer, with a focus on full-stack web development. I believe in learning by doing, so I try to model my projects around useful ideas that can be deployed to users around the globe. My skills in full-stack development allow me to take a project from an idea to a product!
I had my start in CS back in September 2018, with a huge interest in ethical hacking and penetration testing, and learned a lot of concepts on my own from online courses! I was obssessed with network & website hacking, and I specifically found social engineering super interesting, with everything about trojan horses and payloads.
I had heard from an instructor that Python was considered the 'hacker's language', so I figured I'd check it out. I took huge interest in it, and started learning the basics of programming!
After learning a couple of programming languages and making some small projects in Python, I wanted to niche down on something. I found that Python was super versatile in the developer world, and that using it for data science and machine learning was a HUGE niche, so I decided to get into that!
Before this, I had never even heard of a hackathon. My friend was organizing a hackathon at the time, and he invited me to it and told me it'd be fun. I decided to attend and see what it was like. It wasn't smooth by any means - my team sucked and I couldn't even work with them, so I ended up just building something on my own. I built a facial recognition program in Python and OpenCV, but it didn't abide by the themes of the hackathon, so I received a honorable mention, but this was just the start in my hackathon journey!
I eventually got really tired of the theoretical complexities of ML/AI. I was trying my best, and fully understood basic data analysis, engineering, visualization, and manipulation, but just didn't have enough mathematical knowledge to truly understand certain algorithms and models. I checked out a backend web development course in Django, and immediately fell in love with the simplicity and straightforwardness of the niche, and sunk my teeth into it :)
Around this time, I had started my first ever initiative in CS! It was a nonprofit called HackSpace, and it was a team of HS developers helping other nonprofits with development work and building software apps they requested when they didn't have the funds to outsource it.
After attending more than 10 hackathons, I got sick of losing. I had been competing in high school hackathons, inter-collegiate hackathons, and even adult-level hackathons, competing against industry professionals from FANG companies! I attended Atoms&Bits and finally won my first hackathon with my team building Ano.js, a project that I continued long after the hackathon ended.
Around this time, I had wanted to get an internship, so I had been applying to a bunch of internships online. After over ~100 applications and 3 rejected interviews, I landed my first internship as a SWE intern at Apollo DAE Inc!
I was with my mom at the bank staying inside the car, and I looked across the street and saw a building called 'Codeninjas'. I was curious what it was, so I called them and they didn't pick up. I later found that they were hiring for tutors, and before I knew it, I had gotten my first paid job ever!
Even with new internships and jobs, it didn't stop me from building projects and growing my portfolio. I built a lot of projects like GroceryMeals, GroceryPricerAPI, SelectiveChat, HackCollab, SAPI, and continued Ano.js to make it even bigger!
For my second round of internships, I reached out to old companies that ghosted me, as well as new companies! I was lucky enough to interview and get hired as a SWE intern at Livestockcity and Restvo!
I had been invited to a Discord server by an Ano.js open source contributor, who I later found to be the co-founder of CVT! I joined the community and didn't do anything until May, when I was prompted to lead the development of the main website, where I took up the offer and slowly climbed through the ranks!
My parents had wanted me to get an LLC corporation that I could store my projects underneath for legal protection, because around now was when people start using them. But, I knew I wanted to do something more with this LLC, and decided to start Launch Tech LLC, later rebranded to Ortexo, and started to grow the user base on the applications I was building to hundreds of users!
Around March, I applied for a bunch of summer programs such as LaunchX, Leangap, Bluestamp Engineering, and ended up getting into all of them! The only thing was, the tuition was way too expensive. So, I pivoted into fellowships and applied for fellowships from MLH, CodeDay, and urspace labs. I was rejected from all of them except urspace labs, so I joined and do not regret it one bit!
I had begun reaching out and growing my network on LinkedIn. I was watching a YouTube video by Sigil Wen and he mentioned someone named Michael Ye. He had built a $3k/month business when he was just 14 years old in the hacking community. He sounded so awesome so I connected with him and we started to talk! He eventually pitched the idea of EdTube, and we decided at that moment to work on it together and turn it into a company!
After 5 months of building, growing, and branding Ortexo, it had finally come time to figure out our next steps, and acquisition made the most sense in terms of an exit strategy. Though I cannot share the details of the acquisition, we closed a paid acquisition deal with NovaCrypt on September 25, 2020, and I couldn't be happier with the turnout!