The inaugural episode of the Scaling Tech Podcast is an introduction to the co-hosts, Arin Sime and David Alfaro. They share the goals they have for this podcast, how they met and built a software development and staffing firm in 2011, and their personal stories. There is no guest on this episode, but it’s a great way to get to know the hosts before diving into the rest of our episodes on how to scale your tech team!
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Show notes with links to jump ahead are below
Show Notes from Episode 1 – Our Origin Story
Timestamp links will open that part of the show in YouTube in a new window
- 0:00 Introductions
- 1:52 Arin and David discuss the type of Listener that we have in mind, who is the leader of a growing software engineering team. We also talk about the type of topics we’ll cover on this podcast, including all the management, process, and technical aspects of leading growing software development teams.
- 6:25 David’s background before starting AgilityFeat. The company was first started in 2010 by Arin as an agile consultancy, and then Arin and David met in 2011 and turned Agility into a nearshore software development agency. David was a software developer for eight years in one of the most popular tech companies in Costa Rica. Then he became an agile coach in Costa Rica, before it was really feasible to be an agile coach in Latin America. David talks about his initial experiences with international software development, agile coaching, and how that led to meeting Arin via a simple tweet from Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica.
- 11:46 Arin’s background before starting AgilityFeat. Arin started his career as an electrical engineer, and then joined Value America, which was written up as one of the biggest successes of 1999 (and then later written up as one of the biggest failures of 1999 as the initial internet bubble began to burst). After that he worked in the music industry at Musictoday as a software developer and then architect, building online fan clubs and ticketing systems for major artists. Arin also discusses how a failed attempt to start a software development office in Prague, in the Czech Republic, led him and his wife Lauren to first consider starting a nearshore software development firm in Latin America.
- 18:20 David and Arin tell the story of how they met, going back to that tweet that David sent and which Arin saw just at the time he was looking for a business partner in Latin America. David was initially reluctant based on how hard it was to nearshore teams in Latin America at the time, but they discussed how to do it better, and ultimately David challenged Arin to find their first clients and then they could work together, initially using teams only in Costa Rica.
- 20:57 David and Arin talk about how they had never met in person when they started to work together, but after landing their first clients, David flew to Virginia to meet Arin for the first time and work with one of their first clients in person. David tells a funny story about how he was broke at the time, and only had enough money in his pocket to pay the $50 exit tax to leave Costa Rica. Arin tells the story from his side too, about how that same day he was at one of his son’s basketball games and realized that he was going to the airport that afternoon to pick up his new Costa Rican business partner, and didn’t even know what he looked like!
- 25:34 Arin and David tell the story of how they had to scramble to send the first payments to his team in Costa Rica, and they had not set up all the proper banking and international wire tools that they have now. The first payment to our team was sent from a grocery store’s Western Union counter, but AgilityFeat has much more sophisticated operations in place now after over ten years!
- 28:00 David talks about other lessons they learned in the first few years of operations, and key turning points. One key turning point was how they scaled the team outside of Costa Rica for the first time, and began to work with developers in Argentina too. They had to figure out how to do hiring, contracts, and payments outside of their initial comfort zone. Doing this successfully was a major “ah-ha!” movement, and helped them to realize that they were on to something here. Despite how agile coaches were often opposed to remote teams at the time, David and Arin learned that for the right person, it doesn’t matter if they are working remotely or not.
- 34:31 David talks about Workbox Escrow Corporation, a business we started specifically to handle the international payments part of our business at AgilityFeat, and how that was crucial to us scaling our own business and better enables us to serve our staff augmentation clients. This led us to realize more about the key value we provide to our clients around payments, contracting, and hiring, and that we needed to focus on that.
- 39:02 David talks about how this led to the important turning point, when we truly understood how to help US companies solve their talent crisis by blending their US teams with additional developers in Latin America. This allowed us to focus on Finding, Hiring, Contracting, and Paying the technical talent that our clients need. As a result of finding our laser focus, we spun off our video apps business WebRTC.ventures into its own group and delegated the leadership of that to other senior leaders in our team.
- 41:19 Arin emphasizes this podcast is not only about our solutions to the technical talent crisis, even though we will touch on that at times. This podcast is about all the human and technical aspects of growing a technical team.
- 42:32 David and Arin talk about what they hope to learn from doing this podcast. David talks about having an integrated view of technical growth, and how he wants to better understand first principles from our guests that will help us to better understand the world around us. Arin talks about reconnecting with his past connections as well as new guests, and hoping to get more inspiration on where this is all going next and regaining a strategic view.
- 45:17 Next they discuss what they hope listeners will learn from this podcast. David talks about helping listeners to expand their horizons, and learn fundamental practices and mindset changes that are helpful to unlock the growth potential of their teams in this new reality. Arin talks about helping listeners to understand the differences between theory and practice, and to help listeners realize that they are not alone in the management struggles they face as leaders of growing tech teams. Best practices can be taken from theory and apply to their situations as well, no matter how unique they feel in their challenges.
- 48:47 Arin and David wrap up this initial episode, joke about making a separate travel podcast someday about their travel adventures in Latin America together, but emphasize that this podcast is focused on helping you to learn more scaling your tech team. As David likes to say, We’re just getting started!
Links from Episode 1 – Our Origin Story
- AgilityFeat website – Tech staff augmentation firm started by Arin and David
- Follow David on Twitter
- Follow David on LinkedIn
- Follow Arin on Twitter
- Follow Arin on LinkedIn
- WebRTC.ventures – The brand of AgilityFeat that is dedicated to building live video applications based on the WebRTC standard.
- SimplyDoc – A telehealth starter kit that we mentioned in the episode, which was built by AgilityFeat/WebRTC.ventures and we license out as the basis for building custom telehealth applications.