A Healthier Lifestyle Helped Lead This Tech Exec to His Next Venture
Austin—Douglas Ferguson needed a change after his diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes at age 30.
As a career software engineer and technology executive, Ferguson has been a part of the Austin, TX, tech scene since its first heyday in the 1990s. The diagnosis, which he received in the mid-2000s, was a product of that sleepless, sedentary, and hectic lifestyle that many software developers and executives experience.
Ferguson’s condition took him through highs and lows over the next decade, but change came to fruition in recent years with a healthier way of living. He incorporated boxing training, Pilates, intermittent fasting, a Paleo diet, and other ways of improving his health, which he chronicled in an article for Austin Fit Magazine last year.
“I have transformed my body and my mind, and my newfound health has impacted other areas of my life,” Ferguson wrote in the magazine in 2018.
At the same time he was improving his health, Ferguson was debating another change common for those in the tech industry: Should I leave the security of my job to start my own business?
Ferguson is a transplant to Austin, among hundreds of thousands of others who have increased the city’s population by some 63 percent since he moved to town in 1997. Like so many others chasing the local tech and music scene in the ‘90s, he moved here to work in software. He began as an engineer, and quickly moved up, earning a senior engineering position at cloud marketing business Coremetrics (which sold to IBM in 2010, after he’d left). He moved on to become chief technologist at RoadStoryUSA, which he followed up with chief technology officer roles at BuzzStream, Famigo, and, most recently, Twyla.
It was at Twyla, an online marketplace for art started by HomeAway co-founder Brian Sharples, that Ferguson began considering a change. In an interview with Xconomy, he says he was unhappy with his role, and was searching his soul for what might be his ideal work situation. In May of 2017, the company’s board of directors announced it planned to cut staff. Ferguson volunteered. It was time for his own business.
“When working for a single company, you are more focused on one set of problems that may grow and get complicated over time, but you lack the diversity of perspectives you see when working with many clients,” Ferguson wrote in an e-mail about starting a company. “As a fan of continuous improvement, I’m always curious to reveal inefficiencies and find a way to improve. … I guess you could say that my life has been about change management, so I’m really adept at helping companies through it.”
That’s what he figured he’d do with his new business, Voltage Control, a consultancy through which he facilitates workshops for startups and large companies that aim to solve problems related to user-focused products.
The initial plan for the business was different: Ferguson thought he would offer himself as a CTO for hire, targeting early-stage startups … Next Page »