Whenever my co-founders and I ask CTO’s how they onboard engineers to their codebase, small startups as well as large corporations usually proudly admit to fostering the “Sink or Swim” approach, sometimes even as a continuation of their screening process. Not the most encouraging of first experiences, to say the least, we find it’s also a prevalent bottleneck stretching out time to value before full ramp-up.
Being part of the tech industry for the better half of my life, I’ve come to see that some pains remain constant across ecosystems: The need for highly qualified experts and complementary training to solve a shortage in human capital. Growing my previous venture from a 5-people initiative to a full-on incredible campus that has trained more than 600 developers from 20 countries - brought a fresh solution to the local shortage of highly trained engineers.
Despite this success, it was noticeable that even highly qualified engineers were taking months to ramp-up and bring value to their team. Add a plague and industry slowdown to the equation.
From Human Capital to Dev Tools
This realisation hit home. Something I learned from the younger 17 year old immigrant version of me, is that any type of onboarding experience in life needs to be empowering, and provide guidance and tools for independence.
Together with my co-founders we were determined to make use of our combined technical training experience, to help engineers become more independent and ramp-up at speed. We needed to build the best team for this challenge - Like-minded, passionate and competent but also versatile. Together we bring a range of expertise to the table, from leading elite tech training programs in the local ecosystem (Checkpoint Security Academy, Aram, Talpiot, ITC.tech), to designing air force simulators, or ability to raise capital.
Back in September 2019, we started conceptualising the tool that we think will help engineers ramp-up to any code base. We knew it had to be an integral part of the development environment, rather than external training. It also had to provide a hands-on experience.
The need for a solution was clear to everyone but making it scalable and 100% remote was met with some eye-brow raising. It might sound a bit cliché, but that’s actually what gave us the motivation to make it possible.
Swimm Team: Gaining Speed Through a Pandemic
Swimm was launched in October 2019 and is gaining speed with a new team hired in the height of the Covid-19 outbreak. Our first major dev team additions were remotely onboarded using our own product - Swimm, putting it to the test, more about that in another post. And while we’re still on our journey to perfecting the product market fit, we’re looking for passionate and like-minded talent to join us.
The Swimm team gets together every day (whether in the office or remotely these days) to work on designing a new seamless onboarding experience and raising the bar for how developers experience happiness and success in their work. Swimm is now piloting with several design partners and we’re excited about what the future holds - our robust self-service Swimm tool that will soon be widely available.
We mentioned the “sink or swim” approach earlier. While some will continue to see it as a method to weed out weak hires, it’s safe to say that in the spirit of these challenging times, we should all be more mindful to doing a better job onboarding - especially remotely, helping each other swim like champions.
Oren Toledano co-founded Swimm after he was the co-founder and CEO for 7 years of ITC.tech. Previously Oren held management positions in the Intelligence Unit 8200 and Government organisations. Oren has a BA in Political Science from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a MA in Security Studies from TAU.