You’ve heard the story. Eager, wide-eyed college student stumbles across a cool company, becomes an intern, and eventually earns a full-time offer. The ultimate dream.
At Knack, we’re proud to have a few of those stories. Tony Faieta is one of them.
Where are you from?
I was born in Manta, Ecuador. We’re a small port town on the central coast of Ecuador and known for having some of the best tuna (atun) in the world. Many of the happiest moments in my life happened there. I emigrated to the states when I was really young, and I’m grateful to be here.
Where did you go to college and what did you get your degree in?
I started my undergrad at Santa Fe College and transferred to the University of Florida to finish my double major in computer science and political science. I’m a proud supporter of community colleges and the Florida College System.
What was your favorite class in college?
Programming Fundamentals 2 with Joshua Fox. Professor Fox was quirky, funny, and down to earth. This is also the first class in the Computer Science curriculum (at least at UF) that teaches you many of the fundamental programming bases. That class invoked my curiosity in broader computer science, rather than just making apps and websites.
A close second is Political Theory with Jennifer Forshee at Santa Fe College. Professor Forshee read us all the early Greek philosophers’ works. This is when I learned about Stoicism, a guiding principle I put into practice every single day.
How did you end up working with Knack?
My story with Knack started in 2015. I had reached out to Dennis (Hansen, our CPO) through a mutual friend to try to learn more about what Knack was doing, and he gave me a tour of the office they had at The Hatchery, UF’s startup incubator. As a freshman, to think that these really nice Gator grads were starting and building a company really lit a fire in me to get more involved in the ecosystem and to take my own ideas seriously as well.
After that, Dennis and I remained in touch, and he was a really great sound board and critique of ideas and products that I’d built through the years. I had gone into industry to learn more about how larger scale software was built and maintained, and then at the beginning of my senior year in college, Samyr (Qureshi, our CEO) reached out asking if I had any interest in being Knack’s first intern. Everything came full circle and I was ecstatic at the opportunity. The rest is history.
What’s one skill you use often that you weren’t necessarily taught in school?
I think that school often teaches you that you need to be able to always create a solution that is perfect (reach for the A+ solution from the start). This can often plague your mind and prevent you from attempting any solution that doesn’t sound like the “perfect” one, when, in reality, a lot of value comes from taking any idea and then iterating on it. For my day-to-day, that means prototyping a lot, and iterating quickly.
What’s something you wish you had learned in college but didn’t?
Do you have any advice for current college students?
Work at a startup and nurture your relationships. Be your harshest critic, and always ask for feedback. Take the time to document your thoughts, emotions, and experiences.