I want to talk about my first thirty days at Stuzo, but first I think it is a good idea to do a retrospective on my time at MeetMe formerly QuePasa
through the MyYearbook acquisition. I am very appreciative for the opportunity to have worked with a talented group of individuals and a management team that was able to grow from 10m to 46M in sales.
After learning more about the organization, and beginning my work there, I was able to focus on three attributes of building out an engineering team.
1. Passion - surround yourself with really passionate people. Find passionate, smart people who are willing to challenge each other. Love being around those folks! When my team looked back over time they would say, “ I would probably not have been hired if I interviewed today.” My goal was to continually add smarter people. This works because the new folks constantly push others and that continued passion becomes viral. When I left, we regularly had an annual developer retreat, internal hackathons and folks that contributed back to the local community.
2. Commitment - to getting things done. In my first thirty days, I remember launching a solid social application for music / playlists using iMeem API (Matt K always did a great job building user interfaces). The MySpace /iMeem mess aside, I was blown away that we could launch this app, watch it take off with great visibility into the core metrics, and then instantly get mass user feedback. After my first year, I looked back and realized that even though I worked at some great companies, I have never delivered that many services and applications so quickly and at scale. Fast forward four years, and year over year I was continually impressed. In just over the past year we merged (and stayed operationally focused), rebranded (and grew), launched in twelve languages (web and mobile), delivered many new features and releases for the iPhone and Android platforms. The team always had and still has the commitment to get things done.
3. Respect - for each other. When working in the same location and spending hours together, if you don't get along or respect each other there is not much room to hide. You will go through your day pretty disgusted. This is not a place where folks are going to stay. When you see that level of frustration, you must bring your team together to keep the organization working productively. Respect helps people to have intelligent disagreements and continue make progress. We had that respect as a group and coming in everyday was something I enjoyed.
What could have I been better at?
1. Push changes to our process earlier. We moved recently into using KanBan but I did not experiment enough. We had a well defined process from day one and it worked but could have pushed harder.
2. Contributed earlier into the local technology community and make it more part of the way we were. It's not core to the business and not top priority but it does help with recruiting and retention, the key part to scaling an organization.
3. Removed myself from day to day management and at times focus strategically. I really did (and think the team often appreciated it) give a lot of myself. This meant I spent less time being able to contribute to thinking strategically. I enjoy the creative and learning experiences you get from thinking deeper about the business model.
Retrospective over, looking forward while having enjoyed a great ride.