Why You Should Work at Refactr

Post by Ben Edwards

Where we choose to spend our days developing software can have a big impact on our lives. If we aren’t happy and fulfilled in the work part of our life, those other parts need to be that much better to make up for it. We want to make sure Refactr is a place where everyone enjoys working and is excited to be. Our team will tell you it is working so far. Here are some of the ways we look to ensure that continues.

We work on relevant and interesting projects as teams.

Our ideal project is 2-4 cross-functional application developers on an interesting project for 3-5 months at a time. Our developers (a term that includes designers and front-end developers as well as the more traditional definition) self-manage their work and most client interactions throughout the course of a project – from definition, through weekly reviews, to completion. We don’t do staff augmentation. We help companies get things done quickly, at a high quality level, as a team.

Our low overhead, smaller size, and impressive stature in the tech community affords us the opportunity to learn about many projects and accept the most interesting ones that are a great fit for how we want to work. We’re not right for every project and we’re not afraid to say so. Refactr is not interested in taking J2EE or .NET project work. We may, on occasion make a case for a more nimble technology in those cases but we’re not zealots, either. Some projects and some companies are just better served using technologies that we don’t.

For the record, rapidly developing Groovy/Grails, Ruby/Rails, and Mobile (Web/iPhone/Android) applications is what we excel at and what we are interested in taking on.

We are collecting the smartest people we know.

If you get invited to interview with us, you should feel pretty good about our impression of you. We only want to work with the smartest people we find. Regardless of your experience, we are interested in working on projects with curious, passionate, thoughtful, and communicative people. It goes back to that fulfilling work thing – if we are going to hang out and be pals we want to be sure you’re interesting and that you’ll stay interested in your coworkers.

We look for varied backgrounds, experiences, and interests. We’ve got a pair of rocket scientists, a few robotics experts, several artists and musicians, a couple home brewers, and we’ve – collectively – been to every continent. Everyone here is passionate about something and curious and interested in learning about too many things to count.

We have an open and collaborative culture.

What’s more, we get all these smart, curious, passionate people and we put them all in one big room! There is constant collaboration and sharing, not to mention storytelling and joking, that occurs because we are all working together – despite being on different projects. Ideas are sought from, and implemented by, everyone. There are no formalities or barriers to communication – there are no offices and really no hierarchy. We’re all in this together to build cool things and have fun doing it.

We stay relevant by researching new technologies and techniques.

We invest in learning daily. Our developers are encouraged to buy books, spend time on technical sites and blogs, and attend events and conferences. While we don’t just use the latest shiny technology for the sake of it, we have heard about them and if it’s practical and worthwhile for our clients we’ll encourage its adoption.

Getting things done is at the heart of our process

You won’t find a lot of bureaucracy at Refactr. In fact, you won’t find many things that get in the way of getting things done. Our process helps to eliminate those things that tend to bog down and distract from that goal. We call it “little a” agile and it means that we’re pragmatic about the way we go about running projects and really the company as a whole. As things are discovered that work better, we implement them, or as things start to not be as efficient, we eliminate them. We hold a stand-up meeting every morning, we’ll pair program when it makes sense, we write user stories and have one or two week iterations, and we communicate closely with our clients and their stakeholders.

All work and no play makes us something, something…

We don’t just code all day, we also have fun together. Whether its DJ-ing in a Turntable.FM room or in the real world via our Sonos system, taking the Nice Ride bikes across the river for lunch at a food truck, creating something new together at our monthly hack day, eating corn dogs at the state fair, creating popular 3DS experiments, renting a house in Mexico for a month, heading out to a brewery tour or haunted forest, hitting up a happy hour, catching a movie or concert or any number of things we do – the point is, we do things together. And yes, we said renting a house in Mexico. Maybe the next one won’t be in Mexico but we have another trip in the works.

We are a part of, and supporters of, the technology community.

We believe local and distributed communities are only as strong as their members make them. We’re trying to do our part to ensure the communities that are important to us are successful. We provide space for many local user groups to meet each month. Ruby Users of Minnesota, Groovy Users of Minnesota, Minnesota JavaScript User Group, Minnesota Clojure User Group, Lean Startup Circle, and Mobile Twin Cities all currently meet each month in our office.

We organize, sponsor, or otherwise support a wide range of groups, events and conferences. MinneBar and MinneDemo were co-founded by a Refactr founder and we’re all heavily involved with these leading tech events in the area. We have sponsored Ignite Minneapolis, Gr8 in the US, and No Fluff Just Stuff and have spoken at these and other local and national conferences.

We’re at the epicenter of innovation in the Twin Cities.

Not only do we support technology and community in a broad sense – we are really at the heart of technology innovation in the Twin Cities. We are asked our opinions about innovation by media types. We even built our own product to help us and others manage innovation. We are involved with many early stage companies (even some of our own creation) and we can offer unique and exciting opportunities to our consultants. We have a model in place that will allow us to create, grow, fund, or otherwise be involved with 2-3 such opportunities each year. These opportunities will be there when members of our team are interested in doing something new or just looking for a change of pace.

We take care of our team.

Though we don’t often sit around a campfire and sing Kumbaya, we do all care about each other. We know each other personally and we’re interested in each other’s lives and families. Knowing that to be true makes a huge difference in how we feel about coming to work each day.

But it isn’t all touchy-feely stuff. We offer great benefits for a small company, we offer great benefits for a company of any size, actually. There’s the free medical benefit that allows you to choose how you spend the funds amongst a number programs, the 401(k) that is matched at 4% of gross pay, a phone stipend, top-of-the-line MacBook Pros, and the time off that you take as you need it. We encourage travel and vacations and don’t want an arbitrary number of days per year to deter people from life experiences. Did we mention the kegerator?

We share success.

Refactr is only as good as our team and the work we do. It makes sense to share success as it happens. These can be little things like celebrating releases or larger like sharing the profits of the company.

UPDATE: WE”RE HIRING.
In case it wasn’t apparent, we’re looking for great developers; good communicators; interesting, curious, passionate people to develop mobile (iOS, Android, and mobile web) and web-based software with us using primarily Grails and sometimes Rails. Contact us for more info team@refactr.com.

About Ben Edwards

Designer of information and interactions; contributes as much with enthusiasm and drive as anything else; generalist; can migrate easily between discussions of databases, use cases, and Photoshop techniques; avid blogger (from the days when it didn't have a name); critic of bad design; organized and presented at the minnebar (un)conference in Minneapolis; married, no children, dog; loves travel. alttext.com, minnestar.org, @alttext
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5 Responses to Why You Should Work at Refactr

  1. Alex says:

    Ben – I happened to be reading your post when Luke emailed me. Then I went on an all night info hunt. Your company sounds terrific, we should talk..

  2. Pingback: » Blog Archive

  3. Pingback: An Army of Solipsists » Blog Archive » This Week in Grails (2011-42)

  4. Ram says:

    Great way to hire people! Goodluck with the mission!!

  5. Pingback:   Esta semana en Grails en Observatorio de Grails

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