Hiring is Matchmaking, not Selection
Friso van Vollenhoven, CTO and entrepreneur, shares advice on how to grow a great team through matchmaking.
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Pirates and merchants – two of the phrases expats in the Netherlands use to describe Dutch builders or any related home service provider. Surviving home renovations in the Netherlands is no easy feat. You know what we’re talking about – ridiculously high quotes, shoddy work or unreliable service. Or all three.
Werkspot lets you post your home improvement job on their easy-to-use marketplace and thousands of vetted and rated home service professionals come to you. Now all you need to do is find a good match for your needs, and celebrate the outcomes of your home improvement.
With Werkspot’s young, open-minded and driven team of 130 people in Amsterdam, they’re working towards their mission every day: to build a reliable and fair marketplace, where tradespeople can find quality work and where homeowners can hire quality tradespeople. We caught up with Catherine Tsokur, Technology Manager at Werkspot to learn more about their Marketplace, the team behind their success and the technology that makes them tick.
Where the magic happens: Amsterdam
Tech stack: PHP, Symfony, React, GraphQL
Talking about Werkspot I’m going to talk about the Instapro Group, the company that is behind multiple brands – Instapro, Travaux and, of course, Werkspot.
When I think about the Instapro Group team, the first thing I think about is our culture. I have joined the company remotely during coronavirus time. I was anxious about how it will be for me to connect with the team, especially a challenge joining in a managerial role. However, in the first days I felt – even remotely – such a warm welcome from my colleagues that my onboarding went really smoothly. I instantly felt part of the team. I feel like I have friends at work who I will see for the first time in my life when we finally go back to the office.
People are very helpful, proactive and take ownership. You cannot find the document? – Here it is! Something is not working? – We’ll pick it up. This has been bugging us for some time now – Let’s fix it! Everybody’s opinion is welcomed and heard. We have the “ask me anything” Slack channel where everybody can ask questions or give feedback to management and the CEO.
If you have some idea how to improve something – you’re always encouraged to share. I have never experienced any hostility or criticism even when I voiced thoughts that I knew were not in line with the approach chosen so far. In the worst case I’d get a good explanation why a certain approach was taken, in the best case – the approach could be reconsidered.
People care for one another up to the point when they are open to discuss their career ambitions inside the team, with peers, and they help each other to achieve their career goals, help each other grow. There’s a lot of transparency and we have regular all hands where information is shared with the whole company, including financial results.
We encourage knowledge sharing and learning. Some examples come to mind – workshops and knowledge sharing sessions organised by engineers for their peers, mentorship pairing, as well as somebody sharing “I’m reading this book right now and it’s great” resulting in many people reading it. We realise that we are all humans. We work together to understand each other better, to create a safe environment that allows us to accept ourselves and others, to embrace our differences and help each other leverage our strengths.
Generally speaking, we can definitely count on the growth of online marketplaces. There are multiple reasons for it. Coronavirus crisis is one of them, and especially what will happen after. In this past year people worldwide have been reflecting on many things and reconsidering habits. One thing can be the point of our attention here – how much we can actually do online. This crisis helped us see new opportunities for our future and caused more people to get accustomed to doing things online.
One more thing to think about is technology adoption. From some point on, generations are born with the smartphone in their hands. How many of us can forget a mobile phone at home in the morning and not care about it all day long? And if people are connected most of the time through technology, they will also find ways to solve their problems through technology. And there are more and more people doing it each day.
With that being said, I think our biggest competition is deals that are still made offline. And we at Instapro Group are making it our priority to make sure we provide high quality, safe and reliable tools which will make it easier for our users to connect through our platform rather than without it.
Werkspot, as well as other brands of Instapro Group, are running on the same technical platform. At the heart of it is an application written in PHP with the Symfony framework. Some engineers find PHP not such a popular choice, I don’t quite agree with it. This language has evolved significantly. PHP has been and still remains one of the most popular languages to build your web applications with and it’s currently used by almost 80% of all websites. This also means it’s easy to hire engineers who know it.
There’s a fine line between staying up to date with the latest tech and using all the new shiny things in your production environment. We mostly rely on established technologies and best practices, and we are trying to use the latest stable versions whenever possible.
We also make choices in favour of flexibility and maintainability. We have moved most of our frontend application into React, still some work left to do there. React frontend is mostly powered by GraphQL API.
And, of course, we in general try to follow good software development principles and design patterns.
The rapid growth of online marketplaces combined with the world’s increased need for online services have consumers seeking new, easy-to-use sources for traditional services. Werkspot is changing how we think about home services with their innovative use of technology and a team that shares their mission to build a reliable & fair marketplace, where tradespeople can find quality work & where homeowners can hire quality tradespeople..
Learn more about Werkspot here.
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