Ever since the start of this journey of writing weekly blogs, I would be lying had I said this was as enjoyable as watching a Netflix show or as easy as reading a book. Far from it, there had been weekends where the very thought of sitting in front of the laptop typing out a post dreaded me and derailed all other plans that were supposed to be about unwinding and relaxing from a week of stress and work. …


Last week I came across a list of new CS grads coming out of Stanford University searching for new opportunities as Software Engineers. Unsurprisingly, out of the list of around fifty students, about forty-five had CS degrees with a focus in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. In their surveys of which industry they would like to pursue a career in, about eighty percent listed AI and Machine Learning, while the rest put down blockchain and cryptocurrencies as their desired industry. I will leave crypto to another day for discussion. …


A month or so ago, I wrote a series of blogs on learnings from hiring and drew nods of assent from many readers. As I noted in the writings, once the first product had launched and the tech stack was in place, I have spent about 70% of the time recruiting and talking to potential candidates. Time and time again, the talent gap has always been the biggest risk for any company. There is always more work to be done than the the hands available, and this is indeed a pattern in the Silicon Valley in general. In fact, companies…


Out of all the things that are bad in the startup experience compared to working in well-established companies, the lack of proper and up-to-date documentation is often the most notorious defect as the expectation for engineers is to move fast and break things and not writing things down is the norm. Indeed, we have had this experience first hand. I’m embarrassed to admit, that it has been a long time since the last time I was knee-deep developing in Xcode or building our apps from source code, and instead had to rely on documentation provided by the team. A couple…


Back in high school, one of the favorite quotes from our hockey coach in defensive situations was “when in doubt, ice the puck”. The saying made sense, as often times the exact opposite was done where the defensive player was trying to be cute with the puck in a high pressure situation, and the puck was consequently given away back to the rival players which resulted in a goal scored by the opposing team. …


When it comes to making engineering trade offs in implementing a particular product feature, there is always a dichotomy in balancing between product requirements and technological capabilities. As engineers early in our careers, however, the draw was often around the technology piece, as I could personally attest, cool tech tipped the scale when it came to building products. We were taught in school to be innovative, imaginative, and early-adopters of potential game-changing technology that would disrupt the status quo. In building startups, this emphasis on tech often seemed to be a necessity to a successful venture. How else would it…


As an attempt to meet more friends and get involved in extra curricular activities in grade seven, I signed up for cross country running, an endeavor that involved running a 2-mile course in the suburban neighborhood in the misty Canadian fall September mornings that was too early to wear long track pants but the exhale of warm breath would create a veil of fog in front of everyone’s face. I remember the first couple practices were quite difficult. Just the process of waking up at seven am get to school by seven thirty when classes actually started at nine, the…


To many, Polarr has always been known as the photo editing company. While this is partially true, as our consumer facing products are apps in the photo and video editing space, in fact, the overwhelming majority of our users knowingly or not are using Polarr’s technologies directly embedded in mobile phones. With a quick tally, while only about 30 million people have used Polarr’s apps downloaded form the app stores or through their web browsers, the people who have accessed and used Polarr-enabled cellphone cameras, native photo galleries, photo editors, and video editors far exceed 10 times the app users…


As the fourth and final installment of my blog on hiring, I thought it’d be only fitting to write about recruiting services, an industry with a market size of $150 billion in 2019 for the US alone. To put this in perspective, the sum of the valuations of all 32 franchises of the NFL is merely $90 billion. Indeed, some of the most pronounced executive search firms have headquarters across the globe have annual revenue upwards of billions and are publicly traded on the NYSE and NASDAQ (KFY, HSII, and many others). While early stage startups heavily rely on close…


Difficult to admit, but one of the things that I spend way too much time on outside of work is watching and playing sports (and sports video games), specifically college football, as I had written in the first blog post of the year. While I have cut down the time spent on this hobby, I thought this week how fitting it was to draw parallels of the college football recruiting process as that of recruiting talent for startups.

Recruiting student athletes for college football is similar to that of startups recruiting for top tech talent.

Contrary to professional sports teams in North America, namely the National Football League (NFL), where socialist measures like the draft lottery, salary…

Derek Yan

CTO & Cofounder @Polarr

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