E189 Terence Bennett: General Manager @ DreamFactory

Episode 189 February 01, 2023 00:21:50
E189 Terence Bennett: General Manager @ DreamFactory
NoCode Wealth
E189 Terence Bennett: General Manager @ DreamFactory

Feb 01 2023 | 00:21:50

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Show Notes

Terence Bennett is the General Manager at DreamFactory, an API code-automation platform designed for no-code. It generates APIs on nearly any database with no code whatsoever.

Terence is a former Naval Intelligence Officer and a member of Google's Redteam. He loves the no code space and wants to contribute to its growth and evolution.

Website: DreamFactory.com

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Episode Transcript

Once upon a time, there were tens of thousands of makers struggling. Every day they built for hours and hours but didn't ship and didn't earn enough income. One day, the No Code Wealth podcast came to help them find the way. Because of this, makers became founders and lived the life they deserve. Because of that, founders lived lives of abundance, freedom, and creativity. That's what I'm really all about. Hello, my name is Aziz and from being a poor boy born to a single mother in North Africa with no opportunities, just sheer hard work to failing multiple startups yet learning a whole lot to barely escape and alive the war in Ukraine, even living as an illegal immigrant, I've lost everything twice. And now I'm rebuilding my life one more time, one percent a day, sharing the wisdom of luminaries I've interviewed on this podcast from Google executives, Goldman Sachs, the Financial Times, Amazon, Forbes Technology Council, World Economic Forum, the United Nations, Harvard University, and even a priest from the Vatican Church. Everyone is welcome here. So let's begin. My guest today is Terence Bennett. Terence is the general manager at DreamFactory, an API code automation platform designed for no code. It generates APIs on nearly any database with no code whatsoever. Terence is a former naval intelligence officer and a member of Google's red team. He loves the no code space and wants to contribute to its growth and evolution. Terence, how are you today? Hi Aziz, I'm doing really great. Thanks for having me. I'm happy. I'm honored and lucky to have you here and very curious about you as a person. So I'll begin with this question. Why no code? What's most interesting to you about it? Why do you love it? I guess as someone who's part of Google's red team, you have the ability to code. So what attracted you to it? What potential do you see? Well it's a great question. No code gives both the non-technical but also technical people the ability to move really quickly. Why set up an entire environment, programming environment and frameworks and everything else necessary within a traditional coding environment if you can complete a task with a simple no code tool? So it's a tool that's democratizing technology for everyone. And for those of us who might be a little more technical, it actually is allowing us to move a lot faster and to use our creative skills in new and different ways instead of in the sort of traditional ways that tech forces you to around solving simple problems before you can solve more advanced problems. I love that. I agree when it comes to value, it's about the problem being solved, not how you do it. And if you can do it faster, you can solve more problems. And if there is something that the world has too much of, it's too much problems, too many problems and we need more people able to solve more. And just to discuss Dream Factory, Dream Factory, what does it add to the no code space that wasn't found there? Why should people from no code get excited? What vision did you have and your team? Well, Dream Factory gives customers access to an enterprise grade API with no code. And we actually like to refer to it as a code optional, but I guess low code would probably be the more appropriate term. You can set up an API against over 25 different data sources and create it. And you're off and running. And built into the platform, we have all the necessary security tools to do it responsibly. So we've got role-based access and API key management, rate limiting, logging, full documentation. It's all done automatically. So if you're at maybe a medium-sized or enterprise business and you can't take the risks of exposing company data without all of these other security features, Dream Factory allows you to, I like to say, have your cake and eat it too. You can use a no code platform and get into production in seconds while also doing it incredibly responsibly. And so it's bringing no code to even broader audience because I think traditionally no code has meant MVP. It's meant stripped down. It's meant less features. And often that means sacrificing on security. And as a former member of Red Team and I'm incredibly security conscious, I'm a CISSP certified, it's really exciting to me to be able to bring this tool to market and give folks both access to no code while doing it in a way that's responsible. Thank you. And it's amazing the evolution of the whole space and no code and code optional, as you mentioned, or low code. And just to be specific, yes, no code has been all about MVPs for a long time. You spoke about mid-sized and large-sized companies finding a lot of value in Dream Factory. Can you talk about a few use cases, a few example of the right individuals or people or teams who will get the most value from Dream Factory compared to doing it in other ways? Absolutely. One of my favorite case studies is actually a government agency, which was given the opportunity to find a solution. They didn't want to have to rip out everything and start over. And so their director of IT understood that there might be some solutions to no code space that could solve this problem. They have a 1972 IBM S370, which is like one of the old traditional green screen IBMs that you see in like black and white photos. And they were able to connect it with Dream Factory, mobilize that data, combine it with an Oracle database dataset and stream that all via API to a front-facing, customer-facing web application to allow for essentially customer access to DMB records, registration, and what you'd expect your state government being able to do. And so in this case, they're able to save massive amounts of money, use a system that frankly might be ancient, but works and does the job and have their cake and eat it too. You don't have to always rip everything out to do modernization. You can use no code tools to bridge that gap. Another use case we have is much more modern and it's a snowflake. We had a customer come in and they wanted to mobilize data out of their data analytics warehouse and serve it into a no-code tool. It's a relatively well-known low-code application platform. And this snowflake instance was, they needed to be able to read and write to it. And Snowflake's generic API can only read from Snowflake. And so using Dream Factory with Snowflake, they're able to get that rewrite capability and now they can get all the benefits of Snowflake and all the data and all the insight that's there into this no-code tool to accelerate their business and do great things. That sounds absolutely wonderful. And since you're on the cutting edge of the no-code space, where do you see the future going? Or at least what are your plans for the next year or so, as well as newer technologies like AI and SHAD GPT has taken the world by storm and it does a lot of work in programming, factoring, refactoring. Is it something that could be integrated or will be integrated into something like Dream Factory or do you see it as a potential competitor? Great question. And it's a little bit of both, honestly. We've already been playing around with how to generate scripts with SHAD GPT and put them right into Dream Factory scripting engine. So I didn't mention this earlier, but we have a scripting engine that allows customers to do any number of sort of simple transformations or even more robust work within Dream Factory. And so it could be everything from credit card obfuscation to more robust joins and other things. We were playing around, my team and I were playing around with asking SHAD GPT to write quite specific scripts on Python, which it did. Python is such a well documented library. I think it's one of the better scripting engines within SHAD GPT. And they were darn close to ready for production. But once again, that's not really no-code. I guess you could argue it's low-code depending on the knowledge of the writer. But we also started playing around with SHAD GPT to actually write APIs. And we were blown away by how close it got to something that's kind of ready for game time. The challenges with all, I think coding is building the environment, setting up the environment and all the sort of dependencies around just the code. As we know, coding is a lot more than just writing those hundred lines or whatever, 300 lines of code to do what you want. It's everything else sort of around it. And so I think that's what's going to be really incredible to see is we're going to see this combination of no-code tools combined with AI that allows for much, much more rapid customization and flexibility of coding. So right now, no-code tools are built quite sort of purpose specific. And I think AI is going to give us the ability to quickly generate environments like a traditional sort of coding environment, but with no-code tools. And then on top of that layer on almost like building blocks of no-code functionality via AI. And so you're going to start to see the no-code space kind of break apart and you're going to see a lot more. It's going to be a little bit of much more of a kind of create your own adventure type no-code development versus right now what is, you know, you have to kind of find like the purpose built tool for what you're trying to do. Yes, we live in interesting times and I guess the whole world or life in general and moving into virtual reality will become choose your own adventure kind of being. And speaking of adventure, you had a very interesting background, a story that is closer to adventure than not. Can you share your life journey, what happened to you, some of the lessons maybe that made you who you are today and how all that culminated in you being the general manager at Dream Factory? Sure. So I started my career, as you mentioned, in the United States Navy. I started on a ship. I was a gunnery officer, an auxiliaries officer and a destroyer out of Pearl Harbor, deployed out to the Persian Gulf and spent some time off the coast of Iraq. After about two years, I decided I wanted to move into intelligence work because I've always been deeply fascinated by people and understanding people and cultures. And I think great intelligence actually has the ability to diffuse conflict before it sort of sets off into actual combat. And so I actually joined the intelligence community within the Navy and ended up in IT. So I'd been very interested in computers and built my own computers and was into gaming as a kid, dabbled in programming in high school, but it didn't really fit with the way I think and my strengths. And so I sort of revisited that strength. And what I found was with time and I guess some kind of traditional education and systems, specifically like engineering systems, I found that I really loved more traditional IT. And with that, I sort of built on these coding and scripting skills. I decided I was ready for a new adventure and I left the Navy and I looked around and there weren't a ton of opportunities for a Navy veteran in technology. And so I applied to Google and they said no, as many people probably are familiar with. But then I got a call back from a recruiter who worked with executive assistants, what they call administrative business partners. And she said, hey, I see you've got some administrative support experience, which I did. Would you be interested in joining Google as an administrative business partner? And so I took the opportunity and I was really fortunate. I found an incredible manager who took me into his organization. We grew it from I think seven product managers to over 30 in a matter of two years. And it was actually in that role I started playing with Google Apps Script and I started coding again. Google Apps Script is sort of like a hybrid JavaScript. And I started automating parts of my role as an admin, building websites with automated templates within them to allow people to sort of book their own conference rooms and do all sorts of stuff that was required manual work before. And it was my manager Dominic who said, hey, I think Terrence here, let's find something else for you. And so he helped me find a role as a program manager on Google's red team, which I did for another two years. And I love that work and I gained more technical experience and I was able to apply a lot of my background and intelligence work to the planning and execution of these red team exercises, trying to make them as realistic and help them sort of simulate what Google might actually see in the real world. And after two years on that role, I once again was sort of getting a little bit cagey and I was ready for something else. And so I found this opportunity within Xenon Partners to actually first be a second in command of a company and then ultimately run a company. So I started with a small password manager called Team Password. I helped run that for six months. And then I stepped into this role as a sort of hybrid company, integrates IO and Dream Factory. And so it's been an incredible opportunity to lead teams again. I really enjoyed being a leader in the Navy and to me, that's sort of what life's all about is people and working with people and trying to help them meet their goals and complete a larger mission together. And I'm having an absolute blast with Dream Factory and really kind of deeply understanding the use cases and where there's just such tremendous value. Thank you. That's such a diverse profile. And I love how everything was bringing you back to IT and now to no code, but I want to focus on something. You spoke about your love for people. A lot of people within the no code space, they spend so much time just either building or the focus on the product, et cetera. And they seem to not find time for networking, which can open new opportunities for them. I spoke to someone who does a lot of networking and he said, you should spend 100% of your time on your product and 100% on networking. I don't know how that can work, but to you, how do you see it? How do you approach connecting with people, of course, with goodwill and goodness in order to have more impact in this world in order to build a community, in order to find new opportunities? How much time should people who are using no code tools or low code tools spend improving, fixing, doing things that make their product better versus meeting other people, finding the right people and networking? So networking is sort of a dirty word, right? I think a lot of people say things like, I don't like networking. I don't like doing networking. I don't like going to networking events. And I think that's sort of myopic way of looking at it. Networking is sort of this term of art we've thrown on what it means to be human, right? Humans, we like to find each other, to communicate, to share stories and share our passions and share our loves and share our tragedies. And to me, networking is just people being people. I think when you put on this facade of, I'm trying to meet people to see what's in it for me, you end up in this sort of place where it gets kind of unpleasant, right? But that's not what networking is, right? Networking is about finding other people who have the same passions and interests as you and connecting up over that and finding shared and common goals. A little bit more about me, I'm dyslexic. And I think it's part of the reason why coding early on in my career was really challenging because it was hard to kind of keep it all straight, right? But for me, part of being dyslexic means I love people and I love understanding people and working with people. And it's become a real strength of mine, I guess, to my inner personal skills, I guess you could say. And so networking is just what I do all the time because that's who I am. And when I have an idea, I need to go find people and talk to people about it and ask them what they think and what they would do and how they would approach a problem. And you could call that networking. I think for me, that's just sort of being human. But I also have a very specific kind of neuro profile. And for me, being around people and communicating via, whether in person or via Zoom or whatever, is really a part of the way I experience the world. And for some people, that's not the case, right? A lot of people, maybe more sort of traditional introverts, right? They need to find their own rhythm and their own way of networking and sort of exploring the world. And so there's no one size fits all. Aziz, I imagine you're probably also an extrovert, right? So for us, this only feels natural, whereas for a lot of people, it'd be terrifying. And so I would encourage anyone who thinks that they need to network to take a step back and ask, how do you experience the world? How do you share with people? And how can you get... How do you and your most natural state feel fulfilled from being around people? And do more of that, right? Whatever that looks like, whether that's local meetups around specific things that you love doing, or whether that's going on podcasts, right? I think it's just deeply personal. That is so much wisdom and truth in those few words you shared. I agree 100%. And Terrence, to support Dream Factory, where can people find out more? What are links they should go to? And I'll make sure to write some in the description. Well, they can go to dreamfactory.com where we've got a ton of great content. We talk a lot about no code and APIs and the overall sort of space around integration. And you can connect with me on LinkedIn, which is just first last name. You'll find me pretty easily. Yeah, those are probably two best places to find me or find Dream Factory. Thank you, Terrence. It was my privilege and my honor to have you here. I wish you success to raise awareness and get a lot more mindshare for the Dream Factory brand so that people can benefit, can use and create APIs that are fully secure so that they don't need to sacrifice anything. And it's amazing to see the evolution and growth and innovation within the no code community and low code and code optional as well. Thank you again. It's been my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Aziz.

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