Oct 11, 2023 5 MIN

Meet Juan Alfonso

Juan is part of our Engineering Team. Read on to learn about his exciting journey!

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My name is Juan Ramon Alfonso Teruel. I’m originally from Cuba and in 1994 seeking asylum I left by boat to Guantanamo Bay, where my parents and I touched land and were taken to a refugee camp. After 6 months in the camp, we were granted asylum and moved to Miami, Florida.

My passion for technology started at 9 years old when my parents bought me my first computer. I was fascinated by it, and no sooner than I received it I quickly broke it apart to understand all the different components that made a computer, well, a computer.

Fast forward 2 years after that I began to learn about coding, and once I started I found that I could not stop. Why, you may ask? Because I was in control of everything. It didn’t matter what coding language, architecture, or domain I was working on. Coding set me free in a way that nothing else could.

In the years to follow I built things like:

  • My own Christmas/Halloween light show setup, playing with a RaspberryPI
RaspberryPI setup
  • Creating my own homelab to watch series / movies, what friends and family call Juanflix Juanflix

  • Fully automating my house in terms of lights, temperature, sound, and more.

  • Video capturing TV backlight with 265 individually addressable LEDs

Most of these projects could eventually become products on their own, but I have never been attracted to business as much as I have to problem-solving. In fact, due to my yet undiagnosed ADHD, I was not able to focus in school. I was bored and not learning anything that I felt would be useful in my future life, not interested in the subjects or the way I was being taught.

I've always been a hands-on learner, and I learned best by doing. Not being challenged in the way coding and computers were able to, with my parents permission I dropped out of middle school.

Before working for OpenBB, I actually worked as a bartender for 10+ years in various hotels and resorts around Miami. I continued to build code and tech solutions in my spare time, but the bartending job paid the bills.

It is notably hard to find a well-paying tech job without a university degree, let alone without a high school diploma. I knew that I could master any tech stack in a matter of days, but I could never get that first interview with a company because of my highly unconventional CV.

Until OpenBB.

One day I was looking to access financial data from Discord, and I stumbled upon OpenBB. I found their terminal really interesting, and found myself continuously checking into the team progress. They shipped fast, and I could relate to that work ethic.

Then one day, Fabian created an OpenBB Bot that allowed Discord users to query financial data on Discord.

That’s when everything started.

I looked at that PR and despite never coding in python before, I pulled it and completely refactored the code to an infra that was more scalable. I kept adding more commands and data to it, until Didier noticed this and reached out to me about a job opportunity.

This was the first time someone had offered me a job without asking for a CV first. He hired me purely based on my proven skillset.

I like to joke that I coded my way into the payroll. But truly, this is what open source allows you to do.

Since joining OpenBB, I’ve worked on every project but the OpenBB website.

Some highlights of my career with OpenBB so far:

  • OpenBB Bot- I’m the main developer for the infrastructure - both Discord and Telegram. But I also work with alerts, notifications, Hub interactions, screener data gathering, etc ( I’m the BotFather 🤣)

  • I built PyWry in Rust so the terminal would have interactive charts, which also involved refactoring all Matplotlib plots terminal wide to Plotly

  • Logging and Analytics for OpenBB Products

  • OpenBB Terminal → OpenBB SDK.

  • OpenBB Hub documentation being auto-generated based on docstrings.

One of the reasons I love what I do is because I don’t have the responsibility of having to participate in many meetings (my attention is better directed towards hands-on work), and I am given the freedom and opportunity to touch several projects all at once. I really enjoy this context-switching and fast pace.

This interaction characterizes me well: Team Slack screenshot

In sum,

I don’t like planning, I like to execute.

I don’t like documentation, I like to build.

I don’t like meetings, I like to ship.

And at OpenBB, we like to say “ship it” when a product is ready….and that’s what I excel at. We need a solution, I get it done fast and “ship it”. 🚢

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