I am Raul, a self-taught developer, owner of Bam Bam Labs and Co-Founder of Munchies Vegan Fast Food restaurant chain.
As you might guess cooking & coding are two of my biggest passions. I started writing code when I was 8 years old. You might think, this is not so big deal now, but it was totally outrageous when computing was still in its infancy.
When I first got my hands a computer in 1988 they were still very hard to come by and super expensive! Nobody I knew had a personal computer at home. Lucky for me, my father worked at the TV station where they had few of them to run the national news department. I sincerely believe that this was the single most important skill that I learned that helped me to succeed in life.
Now that I have daughter of my own I want to teach her about computers and coding as soon as she can read. I know from personal experience that this will give a huge boost to her development.
I taught computer classes to students and teachers already when I was in middle school, so this is where I get my teaching experience. As the first step, I started doing homework on teaching techniques, finding coding books and toys to make learning programming fun. I and Bzidore invite you on this journey with us to help you teach your child coding as well.
I also own and operate Munchies a vegan fast food restaurant chain that offers healthier plant-based alternatives to all fast-food favorites. The business has been a massive success, caught global media attention and our customers have left us 300+ rave reviews. Just like programming, I taught myself to cook and am the author of all Munchies’ winning recipes.
My daughter has been staying in the kitchen with me the whole time and is very eager to participate. She wants to be involved in every single activity, so this blog will follow our journey on getting some skills behind her passion.
I was born in a tiny country called Estonia when it was still part of the locked-up Soviet Union. We had no idea what is going on outside and were lacking the luxuries you might consider basic human rights, like private property or freedom of speech. It got worse by the end of the 1980s when as a child I was touched by the hunger and empty supermarkets. I remember my mother going out to stand in the Baltic Chain as the air was thick of nervous electricity…
As bad as all this was I am thankful for not having an easy childhood as this has shaped me to the person I have become.
I believe that these experiences were the catalyst for me being able to adapt to any environment and gave me strong problem-solving skills. But more than anything they taught me to dream…
During middle school, I was “diagnosed” with an IQ of 143 and extraordinary creativity. As opposed to what you might think it’s not all flowers, unicorns, and rainbows. Being smart has some nasty side effects. Even tho it made me success on a professional level, it was very difficult in personal relationships. All people with high IQ have a hard time understanding other people’s feelings (low EQ).
Meeting Koula was the best thing that could have happened to me. She is an amazing girl who saw past my apparent bluntness, understood and inspired me to accept my weaknesses, encouraged me to grow and reach my full potential.
Having a kind personality and high EQ she literally completes me. We got married and are now best friends and business partners.
We now have a daughter Bzidore, who has a perfect combination of intelligence and heart. Just a few months old we noticed she is extremely curious about technology and prefers “the real-world things” to cute & shiny toys.
She also likes to spend time in the kitchen with us cooking and from a very young age, she has shown to have advanced motor skills. Now when she can speak, she keeps asking me to teach her how to cook, and I am so happy to oblige.
Meet the Poetic Banker
As long as I can remember I have had an urge to express my creativity. Either through composing music, writing poems, copy, photography or graphic design.
Working in marketing was hence a natural fit for me and this was how I spent a good share of my corporate life. Until in 2007 I was offered an opportunity to go into general management and manage a digital finance company in Estonia. It was an exciting and new thing for me and I took the bait.
Turned out I was really good at this and got a nick-name “poetic banker”. I learned to use my creativity and problem-solving skills on the business scope. During 2008 Estonia was hit with the global financial crisis I was promoted to the group Collection Director position. I ended up reforming the entire concept of debt recovery and left my mark on the markets.
We turned the typically aggressive debt collection on its head, listened to people, offered them emotional support and even helped them to find jobs.
The fact that the approach was non-threatening and supportive made a huge difference in the debtor’s eyes. They wanted to pick up our phone calls instead of avoiding them.
After the crisis was averted I went on developing several successful financial products that earned the company millions of euros and brought the Australian subsidiary out of massive losses, to profitability.
My journey to coding
I was naturally attracted to coding and taught myself QBasic at age 8. This was the perfect entertainment and escape for me like some people enjoy solving Sudoku’s 🙂 Coding gives you an extremely powerful feeling. You can create anything you can imagine and you see the world very differently. Knowing how to write code gives you an ability to understand how things around you actually work.
I started working as a cable guy at age 15 and moved into writing scripts for network devices, wrote the first real estate search engine in Cold Fusion. Ironically I studied International business at the same time and that steered me away from my passion. Finally, 20 years later I ended up as a CEO in finance. I quit my high paying 6 figure job when my daughter was born, started a business and taught myself coding again.
This was a defining moment in my life. It has been very difficult to transition from being an employee to being an entrepreneur, but I couldn’t be happier about it.
Once reach to the top, you will realize that the biggest blessing in life is not the money or status. It’s being able to pursue your passions and spend 24/7 with your family.
Now I have been involved in several cutting edge projects with IOTA Foundation, building apps, and tools for the future of Internet Of Things protocol, permissionless food ordering network SoGood, OBS overlays and many others.
I believe that learning coding was a core reason behind my success and would recommend it to everyone. Teach your children to code! Even they would never become professional developers, this will expand their minds, rewire their brains for abstractive thinking and accelerate their development.
Why I learned to cook
My mom always had a talent for cooking, but today she is a truly amazing chef! I think I had some part in this. When I was young, unlike everyone else I always gave her my honest feedback as opposed to being polite and thinking about her feelings. In the beginning, it used to hurt her, but in time she stopped asking everyone else’s opinion and only asked me. She realized the value of constructive critics vs polite praises.
I was spoiled with great food throughout my childhood to the point that I was unable to eat in most restaurants. When finally moving out of my mom’s, I was forced to learn cooking myself as all the food I could afford was inferior to what I was used to.
In time I developed into true foodie in constant search of new flavors and culinary experiences. I held gourmet BBQ’s for my friends, baked cakes, pies, fermented anything and cooked the most complex recipes. This was easy for me and I enjoyed it very much. Until my wife got diagnosed with early cervical cancer. Doctors scheduled surgery but there was a high risk of not being able to have children. We went out to look for alternatives.
She ended up switching to plant-based, high fruit diet and her cancer recessed in just a few months. This was a huge revelation for us and we felt compelled to do something about it. We wanted to get as many people as possible to eat more plant-based food without preaching them.
While doing the market research we quickly realized that another salad bar would not make pretty much any difference and would not attract people to plant-based food. But a better cheeseburger would, we thought.
Instead of trying to change peoples eating habbits we will fix the food they already like.
It took me about 2 years to re-learn cooking as a vegan. My objective was to create a plant-based cheeseburger that would fool the blind test. When I finally succeeded I perfected all the other recipes and we opened Munchies Vegan Fast Food in November 2018.
Our first location in Chiang Mai’s old city has got a lot of attention in media and reached millions of people globally, without any marketing or PR efforts. Pure word-of-mouth.
Pragmatism is Blinding Us
Before my awakening, at age 36 I was a highly pragmatic person, had an unwavering trust in mainstream science, media, allopathic medicine and pretty much any authority you can think of.
When I met my wife, she introduced me to Buddhist philosophy and encouraged me to meditate. During one of my meditations, it had a realization that can be easily expressed using computer terminology.
Using computer terminology, meditation is like accessing ones “control panel”. Most people live their entire lives with factory defaults.
As I continued my spiritual awakening journey I realized that I had been wrong about most things about my reality.
My wife’s miraculous recovery from cancer made me realize that doctors don’t know everything and authorities don’t always have my best interest in mind…
I realized that we are not mere biological machines as, but spiritual beings that do not begin or end with our physical bodies.