Build, Maintain, Grow

By: John Higginson, CTO

On May 6th, Enova, along with Braintree and Sprout Social, hosted the first quarterly “Build, Maintain, Grow” event designed to showcase some of the great work being done by Chicago technology companies. Our theme was the intersection of technology and business — how to build solutions that have real, lasting benefits.

With more than 140 sign-ups, two people from each of the host companies gave great examples of how they achieved just that. Since the presentation was in lightning talk format, (which limits each presentation to just five minutes) the speakers loaded up their favorite coffee or energy drink beforehand to discuss a range of diverse topics.

Braintree discussed dealing with scale — managing hiring and training, and maintaining their growing database. Chris McDonald of Braintree’s focus was their new hire boot camp, where they bring people in, train them on their analytics practices on a centralized team, and then have them work with other groups in the company where needed. Dave Pirotte then followed with a story of “frozen migrations” which are examples of how they learned to handle changes to their production databases as they grew dramatically over time.

Sprout Social’s discussion focused on dealing with change, both the change that comes as a company grows and how a person’s career perceptions changes over time. Joshua Sigler gave a brief history of Sprout Social — beginning with its startup roots in the early days of “social media” to helping large companies manage their social presence. Afterward, James Brasco talked about his journey from fresh-faced college graduate to new hire to learning how to really be a member of team.

Finally, Enova presented on the speed to market. Pete Brousalis kicked things off by discussing how he helped create a toolkit of frontend elements — everything from services to provide data to skin-able UI widgets. This “modular frontend” enables rapid creation of new, fully branded websites, which is central to Enova’s family of products. Paul Cho then built on this idea by showcasing the rapid launch of a new business. He talked about leveraging the work of Pete’s team and existing capabilities in Enova for analytics, an internal startup went from concept to taking customers in under five months.

After the talks were finished, the presenters and attendees decamped to the Braintree kitchen for an evening of drinks and networking.

The next Build, Maintain, Grow event take place at Enova’s new headquarters at 175 W. Jackson during the summer. We hope to see you there!

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