One of the things we strive to do at Altitude Labs is to be a great place for engineers and designers to work. We’ve been inspired by many companies who have been transparent about their philosophies such as Y-Combinator, Fog Creek, Thoughtbot and Buffer. We've also made many adjustments to account for cultural differences in Asia. This article is about the several things we do to create a great place to work.

Focus on the “why"

Culture starts from the existential "why". The reason we exist is to serve our customers. Our vision is to transform their businesses with software. We do that by building intuitive, reliable and scalable software for our clients and their users by aligning design, engineering and data science with business goals. We create leading standards that embrace repeatability so that all our clients can benefit. We strive for a standard of excellence that delights our customers.

The only way we can provide a great long-term place for our engineers and designers to stay is if our customers love us so much that they give us business year on year.

Be good at one thing

Embracing excellence and delighting customers is easy to say, but hard to do. It is hard to be skillful at a large number of things. As the saying goes, jack of all trades, master of none.

The best way to serve our customers is to be able to do one thing really well. For us that one thing is helping companies use their data to grow. Our work with Openrice and Apple Daily, both with over 10 million users, has solidified our understanding of the technology stacks, user experiences and algorithms required to create personalized experiences for users and engines of growth for the company. Leveraging that experience, we developed our own solution for e-commerce Metisa, a brain that tells brands what to do to maximize profits. Many of our clients in finance, real estate and other industries have similar challenges of creating a centralized intelligence that all their business units and sales teams can benefit. It is our aim to grow this area of business into our niche.

Grow organically and build intrinsic value

Another thing that sets us apart from other startups is our contrarian approach to growing a company. We are a bootstrapped operation that is not venture-funded. This means we do not have fancy offices or Instagram worthy staff perks. We are down-to-earth people who focus on creating value and building a profitable business. We are invested for the long-term, not looking for a quick exit.

This also means our employees are the most important stakeholder after our customers. Our employees are the reason we grow and are the key beneficiaries of that growth. Everyone is responsible for making an impact and we align incentives to the firms’ success. We want the firm to be a place that our employees can stay for a long-time and support their families and other interests on.

When and if we do raise venture capital in the future, we hope to raise it at a valuation that is in line with our intrinsic value. We believe overhyped valuations lead to unrealistic targets and stress for both investors and employees.

Work at a reasonable pace

We work hard but at a reasonable pace. Pulling all-nighters and working late consistently dampens the creativity, productivity and happiness of our team. We prefer to work smart and in a results-oriented manner. We value real business impact over unnecessary spinning of wheels. Having said that, we work hard and we demand excellence and reliability in everything we do. However, we also believe there is life outside of work. Only when our team is holistically satisfied can our company excel for the long-term.

Freedom and responsibility

At the core of our philosophy is freedom and responsibility. We find that young people want to have a say, lead instead of be led, make an impact. On the flipside, many of us do not know what to do when they are actually given the freedom to do as we want. We give that freedom to our engineers and designers. We allow them to make decisions and turn their ideas into reality. But in return, we expect responsibility and ownership. In other words, the fruits of this freedom should be impact, reliability, resourcefulness and selflessness.

Designers and engineers as managers

A large reason why designers and engineers dislike their workplace is when important decisions are made by "business people" and they are seen as a executioners and cogs in the wheel. It is equally frustrating and unproductive when someone who has no idea what it takes to build a feature is enforcing timelines on the team. Therefore, we groom our designers and engineers to lead, work with clients, generate sales and manage. We expect them to spend time developing resourcefulness, good judgment, communication skills and personal growth outside of engineering and design.

Ability vs. years of experience and paper qualifications

We've always hired people based on their ability to make an impact, rather than their years of experience or which universities they attended. Our team is young and capable. Any lack in years of experience is made up by our attitude, aptitude and teamwork.

We also believe in promoting internally first before looking outside for candidates. This is our way of rewarding loyalty.

Transparency

Being part of the bigger picture starts off with being able to see the bigger picture. Therefore, we reveal our rates, our contracts, sales and financials to our team. This allows them to see the big picture, be part of it and see their impact on the firms’ growth.

We also believe that honest communication is important. We treat all our employees as adults and entrust them with all the information they need to act as owners of the firm and make an impact.

Conclusion

We came up with our core values based on the above-mentioned points. They are impact, resourcefulness, reliability, communication, judgment, selflessness and growth.

If you are a engineer or designer and the above sounds like your cup of tea and you’re interested to learn more about positions at Altitude Labs, feel free to contact us at careers@altitudelabs.com. Your thoughts and comments are most welcome, so do leave us messages below.