Andrew Hine, founder of Reputationaire tells us about modern-day data ownership and digital reputation.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andrew Hine: Now that Melbourne is out of lockdown and life is trending back towards normal, much better than before! My ex co-founder left the business just before 115 days of lockdown, and I was forced to move home, so it was a very stressful time. It has been difficult being away from my elderly mother in the UK, and I have worried about her health. Fortunately, she was able to receive a vaccine, which has eased some of my concerns. Due to how well Australia has handled the virus, I’ve been able to return to team sports and socializing with no worry about contracting the virus – for now.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Reputationaire.
Andrew Hine: Firstly, I did my masters at Oxford University (3rd in year, two scholarships), which was sponsored by the UK Intelligence Service where I later worked, sparking my interest in data ownership and privacy. I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve successfully exited my web development company, realized the importance of reviews and ratings when becoming the UK’s largest online ant supplier, and built an award-winning eCommerce website generating over $5000 profit per month.
These achievements and experiences enabled me to step aside from employment in January 2017 to start my life’s work on Reputationaire to fulfill my mantra “to make a significant improvement to the world I’m remembered for.” This has been enabled through the advent of blockchain technology, making it finally possible for individuals to own their data.
How does Reputationaire innovate?
Andrew Hine: We are constantly finding new applications and avenues for our tech. The essence of our work is building trust to serve the people lacking local references, work experience, or credit scores who are currently being excluded from jobs, rental agreements, financial services, amongst other benefits under the current antiquated ways of assessing trust.
Our most recent innovation is our soon-to-be-launched TechieRank.com platform that helps coders get jobs using their Github and StackOverflow profiles. We’ve always been obsessed with the concept of digital reputation, and this is an avenue we see the potential for it. 50+ million developers use these sites to post, learn, and help each other create high-quality code. This useful data has been sitting on these sites, unutilized, and we want developers to reap the benefits of publicly showcasing their skills on these platforms.
IT is an area of shortage in the economy and hiring managers find it difficult to identify, attract, and evaluate top coding talent. We can help them find a diamond in the rough developers with proven quality at a potentially discounted rate. This would also give many hobby developers an in-way into a career in tech – in particular females helping them overcome lack of confidence and “imposter syndrome.”
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Andrew Hine: The pandemic necessitated a soft pivot for Reputationaire. Pre-pandemic, we were focusing on applications for our blockchain-backed vault, even looking into the hospitality sector. However, with the pandemic bringing hospitality hiring to an abrupt halt, we needed to focus on more digital areas. The digital economy was already expanding before the pandemic, but the overnight switch to remote work rapidly accelerated this. We needed to tailor our vision to be more digitally focused, and that’s when we came up with the idea for TechieRank.com!
The pandemic led us to a switch in focus and the development of a new product. This will help us prepare for the future and be in a great place once hiring begins to ramp up again, which it seems to already be starting to. Consequently, we have coped quite well with the pandemic, and we’re lucky to be a startup that has the luxury to adapt quickly.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Andrew Hine: There were certainly some difficult choices, as you would expect when any business needs to change their plans drastically and swiftly. It can be tough to let go of avenues we put so much work and time into, but everything has turned out for the best. We have had to be smart with our allocation of resources and energy, whether that be the enlistment of outside help or in-house.
Over the course of the last year, we learned that we do not need to be physically together to produce our best work. Our team is spread out over four continents (Australia, Asia, Africa, and North America), and we’ve learned how to communicate effectively with teammates in different time zones and hold ourselves accountable while maintaining a sense of unity. It can be easy for a sense of detachment to seep in under a remote structure, but we have done our best to keep everyone engaged and included, whether that be zoom game nights or check-in calls!
Another key learning is that we can be resilient. It’s important to keep the business agile in a competitive space such as tech. Under typical circumstances, the main concern for the business would be changed in the competitive landscape, with companies entering or leaving the space. However, a rapid change to the whole economic landscape due to COVID-19 was something we had never experienced before. We are proud of our team for how well they adapted to something this unprecedented – many of our competitors playing in the same space did not survive.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Andrew Hine: Since we are so international, communication and scheduling naturally become two major concerns. To make this less difficult, we have been using Slack as our main form of communication. We like how we can create channels within our company Slack to collaborate on specific projects. This keeps us organized is less formal than email.
To deal with scheduling, we use CalApp. This is a handy free Chrome extension that compiles your availability from Google Calendar and saves us from having to share access to our entire schedules. This allows us to each be in control of our day and be available when it is most ideal.
In terms of management, we have weekly status reports that are completed by all team members to keep each other updated on what we have accomplished, recognize each other for our work, and let each other know when we need help. This allows us to stay on the same page and feel that our work is appreciated. The development team and the non-tech side often work separately, so it’s important to post major updates in our main Slack to stay on the same page.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Andrew Hine: Our main competitors for TechieRank.com are DevGlide, Traits Finder, and CodersRank. All of these sites, to some degree, are being used in tech hiring, but there are some key differences between our product and theirs. For example, Traits finder is not specific to IT hiring but, like us, is selling to HR firms. DevGlide also looks at GitHub and Stack Overflow profiles but does not make the information they gather as digestible for hiring managers – research shows 75% of hiring managers to struggle to understand a developer’s GitHub profile.
We see our percentile ranking – e.g., Sara is in the top 9% of GitHub developers in Melbourne -as a simple way for non-tech savvy HR professionals to ascertain the true ability and passion of coders. CodersRank is our closest competitor, and our main competitive advantage is that TechieRank.com looks at more soft skills such as the ability to communicate, passion for technology, and engagement in open source projects. They’re more focused on finding who’s most knowledgeable in each coding language, whereas we are identifying diamonds in the rough team players for businesses.
We plan to stay in the game by getting off to a fast start and become a brand for the modern coder. We advocate for equity in tech hiring and believe in skills over accolades. Some of the best tech talents do not have formal degrees or qualifications, and they are unfairly excluded from the IT job market due to a lack of formal education or local references. We are here for the amateur coder looking to break into a career in tech and pursue their passion because of their skill.
For hiring managers, this means peace of mind and reduced turnover. Once hiring managers to start using our platform to highlight passionate, engaged potential employees they otherwise skipped over, they will not go back to their old methods. We make this process as quick and easy as possible via our Chrome Extension, giving a techie’s rank directly from within their web Application Talent System’s (ATS) interface. We believe in our tech, and we can’t wait to see our hard work come to fruition for developers and employers alike!
Your final thoughts?
Andrew Hine: The pandemic made the last year difficult for all businesses, but we are embracing the expanding digital economy. We are overwhelmingly excited for the launch of our new TechieRank.com platform as part of our mission to make IT hiring equitable. Who knows, maybe those web development skills you may have picked up for fun during quarantine could be your ticket to a prosperous career in tech!
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