Introducing the Breathe Life Engineering Blog — Who We Are & What We Do.

This is a monthly series written by the members of the Breathe Life Engineering Team.

Welcome to the first edition of the Breathe Life Engineering blog. This will be a regularly published blog that will cover everything from what we’re building, to how and why we’re building it.

Why write an engineering blog, you might ask? As engineers, we invest so much of our time researching and seeking solutions to problems, so we thought it would be great to share our findings and how we implemented them. Hopefully, it can help fellow engineers and engineering teams, and we get feedback from the community. It also helps us flex our writing skills in a way that most of us don’t do regularly. We have a joke at Breathe Life that everyone who is hired is “full-stack” — our CEO can design and our CDO can code. So we figured the engineering team should show them just how full-stack we can be! We set ourselves the goal of publishing monthly and are even building it into our sprint schedule.

So here we go!

Breathe Life is a Montreal-based InsurTech startup that is trying to solve the life insurance distribution dilemma. We are building a scalable, multi-carrier, white-label platform to sell insurance products online, either directly to the consumer or through a platform for financial advisors. From the very beginning, we have put a major emphasis on building a solid engineering team to ensure we can deliver great tech. Over 40% of Breathe Life’s employees are engineers, and we come from a variety of backgrounds — freelance, startup, corporate, etc. And, as of today, we do not have separate frontend and backend teams, everyone is welcome and encouraged to work on any aspect of the product.

As we’ll dive into more details on how we work in future articles, we first wanted to share a bit about our values as a company and as a team. Beginning at the top, transparency is a value embedded in Breathe Life’s everyday. We always have a strong understanding of company direction and are clear on the full scope of the products we are building, who we are building them for and the purposes they will serve. Although we pride ourselves on iterating and shipping quickly, we can also step back and take the time to build a truly scalable product. To do this, we make sure we put a big emphasis on code quality and collaboration. We regularly practice pair-programming, code reviews and believe in building consensus around design and architectural decisions. There’s always room for healthy debates; after all, 7 brains are more powerful and creative than a single one!

Now that you know who we are as a team, here’s a bit of info about each one of us (as of Jan 2019!):

Arach Tchoupani (CTO): After graduating from Poly in Software Engineering, he spent 5 years as an engineer at Outbox Technology where the team built a box office, ticketing and access control platform for the likes of Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal Canadiens Habs and Evenko. Looking for his next challenge, he moved to NYC, where he was fortunate enough to lead engineering and build amazing teams at various successful startups (VPE PhotoShelter, CTO Lot18 & Primary.com). Last year, he came back home to Montreal to build something special.

Jean-Francois Couture: A graduate from the first Software Engineering cohort from École Polytechnique de Montréal, he has worked in multiple startups, most recently Sonder, and he ran his own consulting company for 8 years. He has experienced all sides of building software from backend to frontend development, managing small teams, acting as a product owner, and assessing all kinds of tech to build kick-ass products.

Pascal Giguère: An ETS Software Engineering grad with over 5 years of experience as a full-stack web and mobile app developer. Before joining Breathe Life, he was the lead software engineer at Alvéole, taking the startup from launch to a highly-automated business operating in 4 cities.

Martin Carel: A full stack web developer and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in the field. After graduating from École Polytechnique de Montréal, he has worked extensively with Java, JavaScript and Ruby on Rails, always in an Agile environment. He was a key element at the early stage of successful startups in Montreal (Bus.com & ChronoGolf).

Kenza Iraki: An early adopter of and now an expert in React Native mobile app development. She is very experienced and knowledgeable with writing multi-platform apps using React Native, Redux and Javascript, and is fluent in the iOS stack, Xcode, Swift, Objective-C, Reactive Programming.

Céline Bensoussan: A web developer who holds her Masters in Computer Science from McGill University. While doing her Masters, she joined SweetIQ, a local startup, playing a key role as they scaled up and got acquired. She has built web applications using Polymer and React and is well versed in developing APIs.

Janic Beauchemin: A full-stack developer who specializes in monitoring and optimization to improve responsiveness and performance. He has worked in a number of Montreal-based companies such as Sid Lee and SweetIQ. He is passionate about learning new development languages and primarily enjoys working with NodeJS as well as frameworks such as Vue and React.

And we’re always hiring! Check out our list of open positions. If you’re interested in joining our team please reach out!

On this blog, we will write about our journey building products and tools to significantly modernize the insurance space. We will explore the technologies we use as well as why and how we are using them. On top of all that, we will share the processes that we have put in place and how we are continuously evaluating and working to improve them.

Here’s a preview of some of our upcoming article topics:

  • The pros and cons of Create React App
  • What we gained from a very RESTful API using FeathersJS
  • Tips on Terraform and using it with GCP
  • Our hiring process
  • How we implemented Agile processes internally

Stay tuned for next month!

— The Breathe Life Engineering Team