Looking for a new job in the sprawling tech industry can be a thrill. But it can also be a bit…overwhelming. Researching companies; matching mission statements to personal values, going through multiple rounds of interviews and rewriting cover letters can feel like a job itself – especially in the Lone Star State. During the pandemic alone, more than 150 companies either moved or expanded their base of operations within the city limits.
That boom means companies have to offer more than just a paycheck to draw in top employees and expect them to stay long term. Team culture, diversity and inclusion efforts, opportunities for continued education, and making real-world differences are all becoming vital parts of the package.
“I took three things into consideration before I accepted a job at Mothership: company culture, leadership and opportunity,” Rachel Ku, senior product manager at the logistics company, said.
“For me, staying up to date on my passion for pay-per-click marketing efforts has been a major focus in my career,” Paula Thompson, media director at Effective Spend, added.
Built In Austin caught up with 11 local tech pros to learn more about what drew them to their roles, what passion projects get them out of bed, and what made them stick around for the long haul.
Effective Spend is a digital marketing agency utilizing techniques to develop profitable campaigns for clients, allowing them to grow their business. The agency’s comprehensive approach combines paid search, paid social, display media, digital PR and SEO services.
An ongoing education: “I have been at Effective Spend over eight years now – which is incredibly long for an agency tenure,” Thompson said. “One of the main reasons I have continued to stay is the knowledge and skill set I am continuing to develop within my position. For me, staying up to date on my passion for pay-per-click marketing efforts has been a major focus in my career.”
Developing the future: “I started when the company was maybe six people at most, and now we are over 50 people with offices in Austin and Los Angeles. The majority of our clients are from referrals or word of mouth. In the future, I see us continuing to grow both in our client base as well as our personnel. My role in our growth will be to develop my team and other members of the agency to ensure we are delivering the best PPC efforts out there.”
Security software company Polychain Labs enables stakeholders to use their crypto in secure and novel ways. They provide research and recommendations so that holders can effectively manage their risks and rewards.
Breaking the industry mold: “Polychain Labs is the longest – and most fun – job I’ve had,” Witoff said. “The people are great, the technical challenges are enormous, and we have the time and expertise to hold a high technical bar that I’m proud of. This is hard at many startups where you’re chasing product-market fit. But we’ve run labs like a business and ensured we have both the revenues and partnerships that ensure we can do an industry-leading job.”
Daily innovation: “We’ve embraced the blistering, unpredictable pace of crypto and built a small senior team empowered to stay at the forefront of the industry. Networks like Polkadot are seeing new ideas and upgrades on a daily basis. We work closely with core devs to understand the risks associated with, for example, new parachains, parathreads and opportunities for collation, and are testing and contributing back to upgrades on a daily basis.”
Shipping platform Mothership creates improved access to scale to make freight shipping more efficient. Pooling freight and optimizing routes, reducing individual company footprints, and eliminating dead miles are some of the ways the company is helping businesses short term and the environment long term.
Finding the perfect fit: “I took three things into consideration before I accepted a job at Mothership: company culture, leadership, and opportunity,” Ku said. “As I assessed the company, I spoke with the CEO, engineering leads, and UX leads. The transparency, collaboration and a fanatical customer-centric mindset aligned with my personal working philosophy.”
“I am empowered to make decisions, and if I need guidance, I can always get it. Mothership encourages ownership, which creates opportunities for employees to grow. For example, the day after I joined, I was able to dive in and deliver a mission critical feature with the support of my team. I really appreciated getting to have an impact on my first week.”
Expanding impact: “I’m most excited by the growth we’re experiencing. As we expand into new markets at a breakneck pace, we find that our customers really love our product! So, we’re leaning in and focusing on delivering the highest quality product experience possible.”
“Currently, I am working with our engineering, UX, sales, and marketing teams to develop product loops to accelerate the growth we’re experiencing. We’re leveraging Brian Chesky’s 11-star experience framework to push ourselves to think big and derive growth the right way. Good products speak for themselves, and a great experience is the foundation of hypergrowth products.”
ThousandEyes helps enterprise companies better deal with network issues that slow down their app, website and service performance. The platform monitors the performance of cloud servers, internet providers and browsers, and alerts companies when there’s an issue that could affect the end user’s experience.
On the right track: “I decided to join ThousandEyes two years ago for the people, the culture and the high-growth trajectory that the company is on,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s been the most rewarding stop so far on my career journey to work alongside such talented, humble and hungry people. I enjoy being surrounded by people who are much smarter and more talented than I am.”
Asking the right questions: “What excites me the most about the future of ThousandEyes (now a part of Cisco) is how relevant our software is to solving real business problems. We give customers visibility into the networks that are outside of their control but have an impact on customer and employee experience, including solving for new problems presented during the pandemic and a growing remote workforce. Being a part of Cisco has given us additional resources and access to an immense global customer base that we can serve.”
“Specifically for my team, we continue to have a customer first attitude and a maniacal focus on enabling our customers to be successful. My team is constantly challenged and stretched to evolve in order to support a growing customer base. Plus, there’s never a dull moment, which makes the work exciting and rewarding!”
Dropbox is a leading provider of Cloud storage solutions with the capability to fulfill the storage needs of both individuals and enterprises alike. The company is dedicated to designing a more enlightened way of working, providing its users with secure file sharing, collaboration and storage solutions.
Comfort in confidence: “While other companies were only able to tell me what they might do, I was so impressed that Dropbox could tell me what they were doing!” Keenan said. “Dropbox announced back in October 2020 that as a company, they were going ‘Virtual First’ – meaning remote work would be the primary experience for all employees and at a later point, in-person collaboration would be available at their Dropbox Studios.”
“When I accepted my job, it was the most certain I had felt in the last year. I could finally plan for the future knowing that I wasn’t waiting on an ever-changing reopen date or to know if I’d be required back in an office. This showed me that Dropbox cared enough about their employees to give them answers as soon as possible, along with the resources needed to make work from home the best option.”
Freedom in flexibility: “Dropbox is perfectly positioned to help usher in this transition to remote work – after all, our company was founded to keep people connected while apart. What excites me the most is that not only are our products helping change the way our world works, but also our internal initiatives. We have Core Collaboration Hours, which is a four hour block across time zones that we hold for meetings. Outside of that time, I get to design my schedule. This is a game changer for preventing Zoom fatigue and not feeling tied to my computer!”
LeanDNA empowers people in today’s factories to help their organization grow. The company has developed AI-powered analytics and inventory management software that’s designed to help factories improve their on-time delivery rates, optimize their inventories and avoid shortages.
Accepting the role: “There were three deciding factors for me: the market, the product, and the people,” Parks said. “I’ve been a big believer in the power of SaaS technology for almost two decades. I knew right away we could bring SaaS-driven innovations into the manufacturing space to help modernize today’s supply chains. We’ve spent years applying deep industry expertise to deliver this purpose-built tech that’s easy to deploy, focused on factory operations, and delivers fast value to our customers with a clear ROI.”
“LeanDNA is built on a steadfast and pervasive belief in lean manufacturing principles. There is a culture of caring deeply for the industry and our customers. Plus, the team is made up of smart, kind and funny people. It was a no-brainer.”
Adapting in real-time: “It’s never been more apparent or important that we need to improve supply chain operations and provide better tools for manufacturers, specifically at the factory level. You can see it headline after headline. Supply chain shortages are everywhere. Combine the chaotic and constantly-changing market with the lack of technology focused on the factory. That’s why our solution excites me most.”
“Often, sales is about comparisons – how is your product different from other competing products in an established category? Not for LeanDNA. It’s a unique solution to a critical problem. One of our customers recently said, ‘I don’t know how I ever lived without LeanDNA.’ It reminds me of when we all started using smartphones for the first time. We didn’t know we needed them until we had them, and now we can’t imagine living without them. It’s always fun to add new customers, but it’s even more rewarding to watch them consistently expand the use of our solution because they see so much value across the board.”
AlertMedia is a communication and notification platform for critical situations, providing reliable and secure messaging across multiple channels and devices to help companies to keep their people safe and informed. AlertMedia can be used for a variety of scenarios, including emergency situations, business communications and operations.
Lifting each other up: “Before joining AlertMedia, I was a teacher,” Cuellar said. “If you told me three years ago that I’d end up working in technology sales, I’m not sure I would have believed you. A friend from college, who also works for AlertMedia, introduced me to the company. She had made a similar move, and she encouraged me to apply.
“AlertMedia puts a lot of effort into making sure employees feel valued and accepted for who they are. We have a diversity and inclusion team that introduced me to female role models within the company. Sales is still a male-dominated field, so seeing other women in my same role – and in leadership – gave me confidence this was a place where I could achieve my career goals. Similarly, the environment makes it easy to ask for help when you need it.”
A people-first mindset: “The leadership team at AlertMedia understands that people are the most important part of any company. They dedicate a lot of time and resources to ensure our company remains a place where everyone feels safe and welcome, even amid rapid growth and hiring. As the company gets bigger and expands upon the products and services we offer customers, there’s a lot of opportunity. Whether through formal training or new tools to help us be more efficient in our jobs, AlertMedia is a place where you get to grow in your career every day.”
“One of the things I loved most about teaching was having the opportunity to help people. At AlertMedia, I still feel like I’m doing something good for the world. There is a bigger purpose to what we do, and we are changing the game when it comes to helping companies protect their people and businesses. That excites me, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Unicorn startup Hippo offers online home insurance with an automated application process, and covers modern home items like smart appliances. One of their biggest missions lies in helping people protect their homes by leveraging technology and data to help find small issues before they become big headaches.
Aligning with the culture: “The culture of innovation and diverse employee groups were significant factors in my decision,” Wilson said. “I have a couple of decades of experience in the industry, but I was looking for the opportunity to influence how products and solutions were built. I wanted the challenge to positively contribute to an organization on a trajectory of growth with an approach that will shift the way customers think about the industry. Hippo checked those boxes, and ones that I didn’t even know were on my list.”
Tech with a human touch: “What excites me most is the meeting of data analytics and risk management in a way that benefits our customers. I am also intrigued by the opportunities to provide a proactive risk management approach to meeting our customer’s needs with a personalized, human touch.”
Iodine Software is on a mission to change the way hospitals approach clinical documentation. The healthtech startup leverages machine learning and analytics to interpret clinical data and ensure its validity, and helps hospitals examine full clinical records of every patient to ensure reimbursements are met.
A top-tier team: “The more I was exposed to the Iodine team, the more excited I got about the opportunity,” Wratchford said. “There is nothing more appealing to me professionally than to work with smart, humble, mission-driven people and that’s what I saw in my future colleagues. Pair that with a great mission and product and it was a must-pursue opportunity.”
Streamlining future success: “The potential is endless for Iodine. I am drawn toward a mission-driven product that gets to the root cause and helps solve the complex challenges in healthcare, with the ultimate goal of supporting the healthcare system. The healthcare payment system is extremely complex, so I think our machine learning approach applied to the mid-revenue cycle has been really meaningful.”
“However, there are so many other exciting applications of our progressive technology that emulates clinical judgement. The thought of that is pretty mind-blowing to me: the ability to let computers learn from millions of medical records and accurately predict diagnoses and length of stay. Why not use it for other clinical insights across health systems? This would automate the clinical administrative burden, so they can focus on patient care.”
SecureLink provides secure and auditable third-party remote access to enterprise software. The company’s software supports multiple technologies, vendors, compliance requirements and security protocols. Unlike traditional VPNs and desktop sharing tools, the company’s software can handle multiple issues at once and is completely customizable.
Nailing the first impression: “Everyone I’ve talked to that currently works at SecureLink raves about how great the company culture is,” Myers said. “Everyone is super helpful and willing to assist you with what you need to get your job done efficiently and correctly. When I was in the interview process, these traits immediately became apparent, which sealed the deal for me. Now that I work here, I intend on contributing to the culture in a similar manner to help the company grow even larger and more successful!”
Bracing for the future: “The world of cybersecurity is always evolving and getting more intricate/advanced. SecureLink has a rock-solid product that has the potential to be a heavy-hitter (in more ways than it already is) in this space. With the news of increasingly common cyberattacks on critical systems that control things like water filtration, energy production and health care, SecureLink will be a borderline necessity to tighten up network security across the board. I aim to contribute to SecureLink’s rapid rollouts of new servers and fixes for critical network issues by advancing my knowledge of the software that we provide and assisting in any way I can.”
Levelset’s mission is to empower contractors to always get what they earn. The company’s products help workers in the construction industry make payment paperwork and compliance easier, get paid on time, monitor the risk on jobs and contractors, and better understand payment processes and rules.
Small business, big payoff: “I decided to invest the next 10 years of my professional career on two simple things,” Nguyen said. “Working on intellectually challenging problems in a large category that had been traditionally underserved from modern technology solutions, and focusing on building purpose-driven cultures to help the disempowered. Levelset checks the box on both of those things. Construction has a $1 trillion cash clog problem that impacts everyone working on jobs big and small. Getting paid on time is extremely hard and sometimes impossible for these small businesses. Our company uses a vast amount of data and modern technologies to help these companies get paid faster. Helping Levelset evolve its mission was simply a rare opportunity too impossible to pass on.”
Mission accomplished, every day: “Every day I get to work with highly talented people toward a single and specific mission of helping contractors get paid. I get to build net new data products using a highly complex and unique data set that Levelset collects on construction jobs, the companies on those jobs, and payment data being transacted on those jobs. I get to help democratize our open payment data to provide ultimate transparency across the industry with our ‘Glassdoor for contractors’ profiles. I get to work on hard problems like trying to predict payment behaviors and assess risk for construction companies using machine learning and advanced analytics techniques. I get to dig in the dirt on how to scale our data systems to instantly detect payment issues on jobs in order to alert our users and recommend actions.”
“The intelligent data solution opportunities are limitless. Levelset has a long view on the category, and we are literally just getting started.”