Case study: The story of Rodeo

After coming on board to bring engineering in-house, the CTO of project management startup, Rodeo, had to build a team of talent from zero with some crucial criteria to meet

Rodeo is a fast-growing, Amsterdam-based startup that has created a project management platform for the creative industry. After successfully shipping a powerful product with the help of an external agency, CTO Hans Leautaud was tasked with bringing the resource in-house and building a world-class engineering team.

The Challenge:

Hiring great talent means looking beyond skills and expertise

Taking on a managerial role in a new company is stressful enough, so by being tasked with immediately building an engineering team from the ground up, Hans had his work cut out for him. "I had the responsibility to build the development team from nothing. This meant more than engineering but also a product owner and a designer," Hans explains.

Since the beginning, the founder had relied on external agencies and contractors, and there wasn't a formal process around hiring. Hans quickly had to uncover what was important in his new company's culture and build this into a new hiring process: "When I joined Rodeo, there were two intern engineers in-house. The product that we were building was actually built by an external company. The choice was made by the founder to build our own software development company, basically. I was brought in to make that a reality."To bring tech capacity in-house, potential candidates had to not only live and breath code but fit the bill culture-wise too. The team at Rodeo place just as much importance on the person as they do their expertise. Besides tech skills, Hans asks three questions when it comes to hiring: What can I learn from this person? Are they willing to dig in and learn all they can? Are they fun to be around?

"It's an airport test. Let's say that you're stuck in a gate for nine hours waiting for your plane. Are you having fun with this person?"

The Solution:

With a hiring process in place to attract the right candidates, Hans needed to start building a pipeline across experience levels

"If someone is asking or answering questions on Stack Overflow, it means that they're involved with making software engineering better." 

"I was really looking for platforms where the engineers were. Stack Overflow was one. And you see that the quality of the candidates is much, much, much higher than on a standard job or career platform." Hans was not only able to spur an influx of potential candidates with his listings, but he could also get a sense of who they were as people and how much they valued their craft. Seeing their score on Stack Overflow and how much they interact within the community made a difference: "I believe that as an engineer, you should pay back and be involved. If someone is asking or answering questions on Stack Overflow, that means that they're involved with making software engineering better. So that is definitely a huge win in my opinion." He was able to see which candidates could bring in the necessary skills and be a cultural fit as well.

The result:

Stack Overflow helped Hans hire the lion's share of a team of individuals who really care for each other

Now, with a team of five engineers in place, Hans can start to ensure the makeup of his team is balanced: "It's important to make sure that the pyramid is stable; seniors at the bottom, they're like the foundation. On top of that, you can build the mid-levels, and on top of that you can add the juniors." And he makes a point of knowing when to chip in and when to back off. "I'm close enough still to the team to be able to really feel what is needed for them."Not only did Hans put together a powerful team, but he has a group of individuals who really care for each other. One of the hardest things to do as a manager is to let go and allow your team to handle things on their own, but that's something that Hans was proud to do: "It's a little bit like stepping back and then you see, "Oh, this thing works," like Dr Frankenstein looking at his creation: "It's alive!"

And by using Stack Overflow to source candidates, Hans was able to be picky and uphold the company's standards: "I don't think that you make concessions. It's better to have too few people who are working very well together and are happy with each other than having more people who are actually clashing or just not vibing," Hans tells us.

With big ambitions for growth, Rodeo needs a steady stream of quality candidates to eventually double the engineering team in size. Stack Overflow is helping Hans in a way that external recruitment companies can't. He can find the level of talent he needs and clearly see who is and who isn't going to be a good fit: "What I like about Stack Overflow talent is that you can find good engineers and also see their Stack Overflow account. So it is very easy to see if they're a good fit."

Read our interview with the CTO of Rodeo, Hans Leautaud.

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