These days if you’re creating a company you likely hope to accomplish more with less people, two ways of doing this fall to: The sharing economy and creating a platform. It’s easy to see the case for this when you have such unicorns like AirBnB or Uber. The opportunity for each of those to compete against hotel chains or taxi services which each need to manage their own inventory is incredibly exciting and revolutionary. In a similar fashion platforms can offer much the same, Heroku’s platform and marketplace made it easier than ever for developers to click a button and get everything they needed years ago. It’s not just their code, it’s everything from Postgres to Mongo to Logging. Or take the app store as example. Smart phones weren’t a new thing when the iPhone came out, but it was only the saviest of users that had apps installed on their windows smartphone or blackberry. The app store made the iPhone different than any other phone by allowing others to build and improve it, turning the iPhone not into a phone but a platform.
When it comes to go to market and marketing there’s lots of pieces in a toolchest that all work together. One that comes a bit later, but if used properly (much like a PR agency) can be valuable is industry analysts. And while working with a PR agency can quickly start to become clear. How to work with analysts so it is productive on both sides can take a bit longer to figure out, or at least it did for me. Even before you do start working with them there’s the question of if or when should you. Here’s hoping this primer makes it a bit faster and easier for others.
You’ve built your product and you’re now ready for your first major launch. Or you’ve been through a launch or two, but are looking to scale the process as you’re doing more launches and announcements. You really have two options: do it all on your own, or work with a PR agency. One frequent crossroad is that you’re not at the point of a full time PR person, but unsure what a PR agency can offer you; and, further what’s the best way to work with them so you’re getting the maximum value.
As I’ve talked to more startups lately, it’s become clear that effectively working with PR teams and the media is mostly learned by doing. Because there’s not much guidance out there, here’s an attempt at some basic guidelines.
I alluded in earlier posts of How Heroku Works that we have talented engineers. In fact I would venture to say that there is not a weak link when it comes to our engineers at Heroku. Ensuring we have talented engineers makes it easier for us to find other talented engineers and maintains a level of quality in our product. This means we must be very careful about not diluting our pool of engineering talent, which is where our hiring process becomes especially key. By the time we hire a new employee, we know without a doubt they’re a fit within our organization.
Our goal in hiring is seldom to fill a role, but more commonly to find more talented people share our goal (changing the world for developers).
In my earlier post on Teams and Tools at Heroku, I mentioned how we value engineers’ time; their work has enabled us to build a great platform. As a result of what we’ve built, we’ve had great growth both of our platform and of our teams internally. With that growth inevitably comes different distractions on engineers’ time. Despite how a manager may plan things, engineering work needs long periods of uninterrupted time. To ensure that no matter what, an engineer has plenty of opportunity to do the work he or she was hired to do, Heroku has Maker’s Day.
Heroku is a largely agile company, we work in primarily small teams that talk via api and data contracts. Its also a company comprised primarily of engineers, even product managers often write code. Heroku as a platform drives many of the features not from top down, but from bottom up based on engineers desires or skunkworks projects. There’s many valuable insights into how Heroku runs efficiently for engineering.
I’ll be diving into many various practices that enable Heroku to put quality engineering above all else, but first let me highlight the team structure and tools that enable this.