Laurent Perrin, co-founder and CTO at Front, is sharing his insights on B2B Rocks and gives his tips and good practices on recruiting engineers.
He will be speaking at the conference How engineer hiring can make or break your SaaS business.
Can you introduce yourself briefly? Why did you found Front?
When my co-founder and I met, we had both experienced the frustration and inefficiency of workplace communication tools and we were interested in coming up with a better way for people to work. Email is the primary way people communicate for work and it’s a technology that hasn’t been significantly updated in nearly 20 years. While collaboration technologies that increase transparency and efficiency have taken off in recent years, at most organizations, email remains in its silo. We saw a tremendous opportunity to make email collaborative, build a central platform for work communications, and ultimately, help people find focus, efficiency, and happiness at work.
What does this event mean for entrepreneurs in the B2B sector?
B2B Rocks was actually founded by a friend of mine who understood the great impact that an event dedicated to taking a step back could do to entrepreneurs who spend their time in high growth mode. B2B Rocks allows entrepreneurs to see larger trends, hear amazing speakers on the path they went through, and be more prepared for what’s to come in their entrepreneurial journeys.
What are the pain points for companies when it comes to recruiting engineers? How can they overcome them?
I can’t speak for all companies, but I can share some of the experiences we’ve had at Front. Engineering is a highly competitive talent market. We opened our Paris office nearly 1.5 years ago in part to tap into a different talent pool than we had with our headquarters in San Francisco. Although we’re growing fast (we’re up to 20 employees in Paris, 12 of which are engineers), we had to put a lot of work into building our employer brand basically from scratch in Paris. Front is a very complex, technical product and our platform is rapidly scaling. Once engineers get exposure to it, it’s easy for them to get excited. But getting those initial conversations set up can be challenging since engineers are inundated with hiring opportunity requests.
Once we get those meetings, it can be difficult to find the right balance of technical expertise and alignment with our cultural values. Front is a very fast paced, demanding environment + product with high performance requirements. We have an extremely high bar for engineers from a technical standpoint. And we’re also looking for people who fit our cultural values (i.e. low ego, great team players). We don’t make comprises on either dimension.
Finally, the three months notice period in France can be challenging since we have to plan far in advance for people to start and once we hire someone, we are typically very eager for them to join ASAP because there are many high impact projects requiring ownership.
What is Front’s experience in hiring engineers?
Today, our engineering team globally is around 40 people and our goal is to get to 50 by year end. Our team is very high caliber (alumni of Dropbox, Apple, AWS, Intercom, Airbnb, etc.) and we have been successful bringing on engineers from very different backgrounds (French and US nationals, from big and small companies, different perspectives, etc.).
One of the things I am most proud of is that we care deeply about ensuring people will be happy and successful at Front. To date, we have had zero regrettable attrition on our engineering team and we want to keep it that way. We have to be very mindful as we keep growing to ensure we can continue to set people up for success
What is Front’s highlight in 2019?
This year has been all about bringing efficient email to teams everywhere. More than 1 billion people are spending at least four hours of their workday on email. At the same time, we depend more and more on collaboration to get work done. Yet, there’s been very little innovation to make it easier for teams to work together on email. So most people are suffering with an inefficient tool that is left in a silo, separated from team collaboration and all the other apps people rely on to do their jobs. We’ve been spending this year optimizing our platform and adjusting our pricing model so that more and different kinds of teams can experience the benefits of collaborative email.