Somewhere’s service manager Matilda had a chat with Duncan, co-founder and collaborator and Conor, product/service designer, about how it is to work together at Somewhere.
Why are you working at Somewhere?
C - I like trying to solve big problems. Finding the right people to work with and spend a huge amount of your time with is a big problem. For me, Somewhere is all about radically re-imagining something which is fundamentally broken.
D - I wanted to make a documentary about work - I remember being at school and having absolutely no idea about how to connect what I was learning with what I would do when I left. As it happens, I left a lot earlier than planned! So I relied on luck to find the places where I wanted to work, and once I did, I made a conscious decision to move between jobs as often as possible so that I experienced as many different things as I could.
A few years ago I realised that I was in a position to try to solve that problem, and I started to think about filming and interview people at work. After that, because I’m a collaborator at heart, it didn’t take long before I found the others and started to create Somewhere.
What’s the best thing with working at Somewhere?
D - We’re in a position to make a difference. What we do has already had a real impact on the lives of the people who have come to us in search of inspiration and help. It didn’t take much for us to create something which very quickly started to feel relevant to people.
When I talk to people and explain what Somewhere is, their responses always validate our decisions to do this. We’ve worked hard to get where we are, and, as always, the reward for hard work is more hard work.
C - We are very collaborative and we work quickly to test and release new features. We’re not burdened by any decision making process. When we discover what problems we should be working on, we pursue them straight away.
How do you guys work together?
D - We’re a small team at Somewhere and some of us knew each other already, but for each and every one of us it’s about sharing and trust. You have to trust people in order to share your opinions, and you have to trust one another in order to really listen to what they’re saying.
C - It’s important that you trust the people you work with. You need to be able to try ideas and not be afraid to get it wrong. So I guess you could say that Duncan and I spend our days getting it wrong! (and occasionally right)
What’s the biggest challenges you’re facing on a weekly basis? And why?
C - As you are responsible for you own work the big challenge is make the right decisions and then move fast enough to follow up on those decisions. It’s very rewarding to be shaping a new product that hasn’t existed before but that obviously come with it’s own challenges.
D - Some weeks it feels like a race against time, other weeks is a fight to remember there are other people in the room, but most of the time my biggest challenge is what to do next. There is so much we have left to do, we’ve made a tiny, tiny dent in the universe and now we need to make sure it’s a permanent impression. We don’t want to exist in the quantum state of startups, we want to create a company which explicitly exists and grows.
Somewhere’s looking for a ‘Code Maker and Breaker’ at the moment. How would you describe what that is?
D - The code maker part is someone who can write code. We use Ruby on Rails, so to be very specific it’s someone who has a decent amount of experience there. But the code breaker part is the harder part of the job. When we talk about Code Breaking what we mean is someone who can listen, interpret, embellish and improve us.
So, the Code Maker & Breaker we’re looking for is a collaborator and a translator. We’re not looking for someone to perform technical gymnastics, but we are looking for someone who can make a mental leap even if it involves “less code”.
What can a ‘Code Maker and Breaker’ learn at Somewhere?
D - It’s very open. Specifically we’re a very lean, iterative and responsive company. We aren’t ruled by metrics but we do look to them for understanding. We test and validate our assumptions as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean they always override our own opinions.
Come work for Somewhere and we’ll teach you some bad habits, plenty of good ones, and many ways in which to reach a decision. And there’s a world of tech to be built around Somewhere too. We have a decent framework with a lot of the dry stuff already made - come join us and skip the boring days..