Sunday, June 29, 2014

Is a tough boss the best boss?

Great article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled "Is a tough boss the best boss?"

My favourite lines:

The respondents were asked what they hated the most at work. Number one on the list by far: lazy and underperforming colleagues. And, making it worse: their boss wasn’t doing anything about it.
Tough leadership is when leaders let employees know exactly where they stand without any timidity or ambiguity.
Tough leadership is when leaders set high standards to which they hold their teams to account.
It’s (tough leadership) most effective when used in short bursts and only when necessary.

via Geetika Marek Guz

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wanted: Director of Engineering, Shoes of Prey

Shoes of Prey is creating software to revolutionise the way affordable luxury products are purchased and manufactured. Our JavaScript 3D shoe configurator allows women to design and customise their very own shoes. Once designed, the shoes are then lovingly crafted on demand and shipped anywhere in the world. This model ensures the customer gets exactly what she wants, and we don’t have to hold any finished stock!

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 5.40.55 pm.png

Founded by two ex-Googlers and an advertising exec in 2009, the company has experienced very strong growth each year. We’ve been backed by a number of influential silicon-valley investors, raising $3m to date. It’s our view that mass customization, coupled with on-demand production, is the future of retail. With 5 years of success behind us, we’re in the box seat to make this happen and build a billion dollar company. We’d love for you to come and join us!

To achieve our goals we have some interesting, mind-bending software engineering problems we need to solve, for example:

  • How can we use machine learning to help customers quickly and easily decide on a particular shoe design?
  • How can we further improve the user experience of our shoe designer and sales process to make it more intuitive, fun and realistic?
  • How can we use prediction algorithms to know how much stock we should order?
  • How can we use mobile computer vision technology to scan our customers’ feet for accurate sizing?
  • How can we use A/B testing to further improve our website?
  • How can we better leverage eCommerce best practices to further improve the shopping experience for our customers and drive sales?
  • How can 3D printing and other on-demand manufacturing methods be integrated into our manufacturing processes to help speed up product development and delivery times to customers?

We are literally inventing a new way to purchase and manufacture goods. Our work is cutting-edge, fast-paced and extremely exciting.

Above: Experimenting with 3D printing our shoes directly from the CAD models. This shoe is life-sized!

As the Director of Engineering, your role will be to manage our software engineering team of six engineers. You will also help set the direction of the team by driving our technical strategy.

To be successful in this role, you'll need to be smashing the following out of the park:

  1. ensuring the engineering team is focused on making the biggest impact they can,
  2. mentoring each of the engineers and giving guidance on how they should attack unfamiliar problems,
  3. ensuring everyone in the company has clarity about what the software engineers are working on, and why,
  4. making a significant contribution to our codebase by ensuring we’re adopting best-practice, and writing meaningful code yourself, and
  5. running regular hackathons to experiment with new technology.

Above: A hologram we hacked together during one of our hackathons.

Your work experience should clearly identify that you have the following traits:

  • An entrepreneurial go-getter.
  • A passion for learning new things and crafting beautiful, easy-to-use products.
  • The ability to think strategically about problems, with a clear focus on ensuring the company’s commercial objectives are met.
  • A brilliant coder who is also a “people-person”. You should be just as happy writing code as you are jumping into a meeting with the board of directors to talk succinctly and confidently about our technical strategy.
  • At least 2 years (and ideally 4+ years) experience successfully managing a team. That means running the team meetings, having regular 1:1s with the engineers, and delivering quarterly performance reviews.
  • Dealing with “growing pains”. Today we’re 50 people and growing. Therefore prior experience at a startup would be beneficial.

You should have significant experience with the following technologies, or their equivalents:
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Git
  • Amazon EC2
  • Google AppEngine
  • MapReduce
  • SQL

If your skills don’t match exactly, it’s not a deal breaker. If you’re, say, a fantastic Java programmer, then we know you’ll be able to pick up Python quickly. There’s a good argument too that some systems may need to be re-architectured in the future as we scale, so in-depth knowledge of Java/C/C++ would be advantageous.

The following interests/skills are beneficial, but not mandatory:
  • eCommerce
  • User experience design / research
  • AB testing
  • 3D rendering / CAD
  • Machine learning
  • Android / iOS development
  • Computer vision
  • Electrical engineering / robotics

Our engineering team is located in Sydney, Australia. If you’ve never visited Sydney before, you’re in for a treat. Sydney is an absolutely incredible city to live in. We have fantastic weather, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant cultural scene. For remote candidates, we will assist you with relocating including helping you to obtain a working visa.

Your exact package will be tailored to your individual circumstances.

To apply for this role please email a cover letter and CV to with the subject line "{YOUR NAME} - DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING". This is essential as any applications without this will be missed by our email filters.

Thanks, we can't wait to hear from you!

My startup failed, and this is what it feels like...

Fantastic, incredibly honest post from 99Dresses founder Nikki Durkin on what it feels like for your startup to fail.