There was a question Quora that asked about the unique opportunities and benefits one would get if they chose to work at hike. I believe this is a great opportunity at giving people an idea of how we work everyday. On a very high level; our process’, values and what we strive to build.
It also gives me the opportunity to write my very first medium post ☺. I love how one can really add a lot of personality to a post on this channel.
Here’s how we strive to build our team. It’ll give an insight as to what a developer’s day looks like as well:
First question was Product vs Cost Saving?
Thats simple. We are obsessed about design and building a great product. It’s not only our designers but also our engineers who understand how to build a great a User Experience really well. We never cut corners on product and design. That said, overall we are very cost conscious. Being an early stage start-up, we have to be, we don’t have a choice.
No egos. No bull shit. Just ‘Get Shit Done’
The average age in the team is 26. Thats quite young especially in India. We don’t look at years of experience as the main criteria in hiring. We’ve seen folks that are barely 6 months out of college contributing significantly to shipping a feature. You have the opportunity to have a large impact as soon as you join hike.
I think thats awesome. We don’t have a bias against young guys in the team (I’m 26). This is a big deal in India or well, at least used to be. When we hire people, we want to hear their opinions even though we may at many a times not agree with them. Thats why we hired them in the first place. A young team coupled with some great mentors is how we structure our teams and it works well.
We really just wanted to move fast and build great stuff.
We’re now about 55 people. Scaled up from 10 just a year ago. By the end of this year we’ll likely be at 100 people. So we added some structure and we borrowed a few ideas from what some super successful folks are doing globally to ensure that it always feels like a 10 person company.
Our goal? Small teams. Moving fast. Full ownership.
Spotify does this really well. This is what we’re striving to get to and we’re just about getting started — Spotify engineering culture (part 1)
Here’s what we’ve done:
- Each team member in hike is part of something called a Squad. Squads are cross-functional teams with a dedicated mission — Core Messaging, Reliability, Growth, Stickers etc. Each squad has a mission thats serves towards the larger mission of the company.
- Each Squad has a PM, Designer, Developer(s) and others as they may apply to ensure that every team member has a complete picture of whats going and why we’re building stuff. The ‘Why’ is important.
The point to highlight here is that developers aren’t just pushing code. Crafting software isn’t logical, it’s a creative role. And in a creative role the best are 40x better than the average because of a deep understanding of why they build stuff.
- Chambers run across Squads. Each Chamber groups together the same functional team members across all the Squads. For example, we have a Client Engineering Chamber that has all the Client Devs, Design Chamber that has all the Designers on the team and so.
- Whats the purpose of a Chamber? To explain this lets take developers for example. On a high level, the idea is to ensure that work done by a developer or insights gained in one squad don’t get siloed. If a dev has worked on some Memory Optimizations on the front-end in one part of the Android app, other devs should be aware of whats been done so that they borrow concepts or altogther re-use the code so that double work isn’t done. This could be for Design, Product or anything.
Squads & Chambers meet every week. Monday is Squad Days and Friday is Chambers Days (although now we’re quite flexible with this).
Open Office, WAR Rooms & Core Hours
We’d like to think we’ve got a pretty slick office. Open space. Fully stocked cafe. xBox etc etc. Devs sit back to back with the entire team including myself. It allows us to move pretty fast. We’ve also got two beds in case some folks are working overnight or just need a nap in the day to refresh their minds.
Recently we introduced two quiet areas or WAR rooms as we call them to battle out any big issues. These rooms give an area for a Squad to work in a quiet space to knock out any issues given the open space gets quite noisy.
We also very recently introduced something new called Core Hours. The idea? Everybody has to be in 12-5pm everyday. Outside these hours it’s up to the team whether to stay in the office or Work From Home. The idea is to get the entire team overlapping for at least 5 hours everyday to ensure the communication overhead is as little as possible. Once you’ve discussed what you have to, you can skip all the traffic (we’re in Gurgaon), bugger off home and work in peace and quiet if thats what works for you.
As I mentioned above, we’re about 55 people now and we’re going to be double that by the end of year. While we’re scaling up the team, we’re aware communication will break and we all know that communication is key to great execution. Thus — Core Hours.
Roadmap & Kick-Off Meetings
We strive to pro-actively build our roadmap looking 90 days ahead. Thats it. No more. Our goal is to lock down the first 30 days well in advance and about 80% of the second 30 days and maybe 70% of the third 30 days.
We’ve sucked at this for the longest time but quite recently found an awesome article on Pandora’s process on carving out its roadmap and we stole it ☺. It’s really cool. Here’s the article — http://firstround.com/article/This-Product-Prioritization-System-Nabbed-Pandora-More-Than-70-Million-Active-Monthly-Users-with-Just-40-Engineers.
On a high level. Here’s how it works:
- We list out every single feature we want to build over the next year.
- Get an idea of what the overall team thinks we should build and cut down the list subjectively.
- Allocate a cost to features in $ terms.
- Figure out how many $ we have to spend in a given quarter (engineering and design resources).
- Get 5 people who best understand our mission well in a room and bid for each feature.
- You end up with 2/3rd list without a single $ and it gives you an idea of whats important to the company
Once we have what we want to build over the next 90 days, we run Kick-Off Meetings (also a recent addition). Kick-Off meetings are basically 1st Squad meetings for the feature. Each cross-functional team member sits in the meeting we discuss the complexity to build the feature what it’ll take on the design, engineering side so that everybody’s on the same page.
Squads meet again after a few days with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) figured out and we go build out the feature. We launch it internally first, show it to a few people who aren’t involved with the Squad to get an outsiders opinion and usually end up doing a couple of iterations. All this in a short period of time given that we usually launch features under a month.
Developers are key to this. To help figure out the MVP, on how far we can push the envelope on a platform in a certain time period. We’re always optimizing for time, time, time. It’s one way. You never get it back.
The idea is to perfect every detail but limit the number of details to perfect.
All that matters is people
What unique benefits or opportunities you ask? The best opportunity we can give you is working with a bunch of super smart people with an insatiable curiosity. In a start-up, you end up spending most of your day, at least 10-12 if not 15 hours everyday with the team around you. And I cannot stress how much that matters. A start-up’s success is directly proportional to how fast the learning curve of the team is. The faster the learning curve, the more eager you are try and fail fast and often so that you can quickly figure out what doesn’t work and move on to the stuff that actually does.
Nobody gets it right on the first try. Trust me. We know ☺.
There’s a saying — ‘You become the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most’. No doubt. The smarter the people you surround yourself with the faster your learning curve. All the perks like free food, state of the art espresso machines and all that jazz don’t matter.
At the end of the day ‘A Great Workplace is Stunning Colleagues’.
Finally. An opportunity to be part of something big. In India.
Out of a population of 1.2B people in India, there are still only under a 100M active mobile internet consumers in India at the moment. My best guess? That number is around 50-70M. While it is growing fast, it’s still under 10% of the entire population.
There is no doubt that a large part of the population will come online within 5 years. But how? India is the only country in the world where over 1B people will come on to the internet for the first time in their lives on a mobile device. India is also a very diverse country. Behaviour of people varies significantly between in Metros and Tier 3 cities. Languages are different. Cultures are different.
India is like a country of 20+ countries.
Loads of challenges but as we see it, loads of opportunities.
We just crossed 15M users growing 3x in just 9 months. We have a shot at building one of India’s first mobile internet consumer companies that could cross a 100M users. Yes, 100M. I said it. We have a population of 1.2B after all. Will we get there? Who knows but we’re going to try and try super hard nonetheless.
Btw, we just raised $14M — Indian Mobile Messaging App Hike Raises $14M In New Funding From BSB | TechCrunch
Come join us. I’m at [email protected].