As if seeing their team grow threefold since 2014 wasn't enough of a growth spurt, SimpliSafe is preparing to expand internationally, launch new products and establish integration partnerships in the near future.
With so many bright spots on the smart home security system company's horizon, three team members were eager to speak to us about the engineers they are looking for to join their growing staff and what it has been like to witness SimpliSafe transform in front of their eyes.
WHAT THEY DO: SimpliSafe designs home security systems that are wireless, cellular and user-friendly. An arsenal of sensors provides all-encompassing protection while integrated apps make comprehensive system control possible from anywhere.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Boston
NOTABLE PERKS: Weekly happy hours, Bagel Thursdays, winter ski getaways and women in STEM scholarships are just a few perks.
NOTABLE PARTNERSHIPS: Alexa, Google, Apple, Nest and August Smart Locks
GETTING CREATIVE: SimpliSafe's new creative director, Wade Devers, is looking to make the SimpliSafe brand a household name. Learn more.
Don Nelson, Chief Technology Officer
Don leads the technology teams in creating the products, systems and tools that enable the operations of the company.
BEYOND WORK: Whether it’s nonfiction or fiction, or a topic pertaining to religion, leadership or business, Don is always in the process of reading a couple of books.
What initially drew you to SimpliSafe?
The product. I had used some really bad home security and home automation systems, and I was burned by a company with long contracts and poor products. So, I was glad to find a company that was doing it right.
I was also attracted to the stage the company is in and how it’s run. We are a multimillion-dollar company that still runs like a startup, and our founder and CEO, Chad Laurans, still works closely with engineers on products. We move quickly without a lot of big company baggage and build a lot from the ground up. If you are a builder at heart, it is a great place to be.
We move quickly without a lot of big company baggage and build a lot from the ground up."
What problems are you solving with technology? How are you solving them?
We make the SimpliSafe system as easy to install and use as possible. Our goal is to enable our customers to manage and improve their personal and home safety. We have more than two million family members protected by our products, and we do this with no contracts and no need for professional installers — this is more of a challenge than you may think. Bringing a complex space like security down to its essence and then building back up to a point where anyone can install and manage it is a great challenge. We make it look easy, and that is a blast.
What is the next big step for your team?
We are growing the engineering team significantly in the coming year by hiring hardware, electrical, mechanical, firmware and software engineers. We are also expanding internationally and learning what it means to have a global offering and operations. This is opening our perspective about the amount of flexibility and configurability that we need to architect into our products, services and operations.
We need to increase our engineering throughput, and we need to move more hardware and software if we are going to keep pace in the fast-moving space in which we compete. We need people that can grow at the pace of our company.
Steve Gardos, DISQO Manager
As his title implies, Steve is responsible for devops, IT, security, quality and operations at SimpliSafe.
BEYOND WORK: Playing squash forces Steve to maximize his time efficiency so that he can take a break from work and enjoy some physical activity.
What were some of the biggest challenges when you were hired? How did you overcome them?
It was the wild west when I joined. I mean, we had to put our own desks together ourselves, so we were nowhere near any kind of formal software development life cycle. We didn’t even have a quality assurance environment. But we didn’t overcome these challenges with process — we overcame them with pragmatic solutions that had a lot to do with trust and ownership.
How have you evolved as a leader?
I came from a company where process was often the solution to problems, so I have evolved to understand that every culture and environment is different and each problem requires a unique solution. I have also learned to always think that today’s problem, even if it sounds a lot like yesterday’s problem, can have very different variables, so we must think through all the possible solutions again and choose the right one for today.
But I’m learning all the time, and I still make stupid decisions, which just help me with the next problem. I’m trusted to make these mistakes, learn from them and evolve.
But I’m learning all the time, and I still make stupid decisions, which just help me with the next problem. I’m trusted to make these mistakes, learn from them and evolve."
How is SimpliSafe’s culture different than previous companies in which you've worked?
Most often we solve problems by automation and trust in our people, not by process and regulations. From our call center located in downtown Boston to our hardware team right upstairs to our back-end team across the hall and our mobile engineers a desk away, we have an amazingly diverse team that’s passionate about our products, customers and mission. We measure everything, and we are not afraid to make mistakes. You add those together and you get a really fast-moving team that iterates to get value to the customer quickly.
Mike Shaw, HW/FW Engineering Manager
Mike sees himself as a facilitator, clearing the path for hardware and firmware engineers to do their best work.
BEYOND WORK: Mike loves spending time with his son, who is autistic and has taught Mike to be more sensitive and understanding of other people’s perspectives and situations.
What was your biggest concern when you joined SimpliSafe?
SimpliSafe is the first company I worked for that focuses on consumer products. Engineering for cost was something that wasn’t a priority with my past employers, so that was new. But, with the help of our founder and CEO, I learned to think through the broader implications of designing for cost on the outset of development.
What has been the major turning point for the company since you joined?
To me, SimpliSafe hit critical mass when we shipped our third-generation security system. We worked to make sure that we hardened the features before we introduced it to the market, and it has been well received and is something we are very proud of.
[Our team members] strive to understand the problem and persevere by finding new methods, asking questions and working collaboratively."
What are you looking for in candidates today?
I look for how well they can communicate and their ability to work with others. Listening is a good skill, and this can’t be underestimated. What’s critical to me is that the candidate doesn’t give up under adversity — they strive to understand the problem and persevere by finding new methods, asking questions and working collaboratively.