Building Technical Capability: from start-up to 100-person business
Five years and 9 months.
That’s how long it is since we founded The Floow and a lot has changed since 2012 when we started up with just three of us.
In those days, I was responsible for technology, and that’s one thing that hasn’t changed much. Today I have the role of CTO of a 100-strong company.
Technology is the heart and soul of The Floow and my journey from one-man technology department to leading a team of around 70 people has certainly been eventful.
I would segment the last 5 years into three parts:
- Do it myself: Programming and building core technical capability
- Building a technology organisation with functional teams
- Leading: Helping others to solve problems as we strive for the next phase of development
Do it Myself
In 2012, my co-founders Aldo and Sam and I had a shared mission. We believed - as we still do today - that telematics has the potential to radically transform mobility by making it safer and smarter for everyone. It’s technology that can enable this mission and so I set about building the technical platform to make this happen. I built our very first Android app for Direct Line and soon after had to repeat the process for iOS. I also had to build our data processing capability on AWS, and worked with Sam to develop our first driver scores as well as core technology which would enable our apps to automatically start and stop when a journey began or finished. Those were hectic times with so much to do and only me and one other contractor to get stuff done.
Building a Technology Organisation
A few months in and it was time to start thinking about scaling up and building a technology team. Early hires were in development, UX, web and testing/validation, but where many of our people work today is in data science, where we take and analyse many millions of miles worth of driving data every week and are able to turn this big data into individual scores for insurance policy-holders. Our experience has grown as our team has taken on more people so now we have an incredible ability to analyse journeys to also understand the context of driver behaviour and how individuals are influenced by unexpected things happening in their environment.
Five years on and I’ve become the leader of a technical team of around 70 people. These days I spend hardly any time doing stuff myself, because now my focus is on helping others to solve problems, make things happen and strive for excellence. Whilst hiring the right talent to continue building the technical team is a continual focus, so is ensuring that we’re always committed to the next wave of technology to support our evolving portfolio and the complex needs of our customers. This requires us developing and adhering to a product roadmap and addressing industry-wide issues relating to things like data management, privacy and security.
Through every one of these three phases, I’ve always felt that mine is the best job in the business. And whilst the content of my role has changed hugely, what drives me and the rest of the team remains the same: making mobility safer and smarter for everyone.