Andreas Silén, CTO at Roaring

Roaring provides APIs (application programming interfaces), their web app, webhooks and other data that helps businesses scale up and effectively work through information, as well as automate their business processes, striving to help clients become agile, competitive and compliant.

They’re a small tech team with great plans, and are often in need of creative, problem-solving programmers that can help them achieve their goals quickly and efficiently. In this interview, we focused on this side of managing Roaring’s tech team with their CTO, Andreas Silén.

Explain to me what Roaring does for its clients in layman’s terms.

What we do at Roaring is provide an API platform for simplifying and automating our customers’ business-related processes. It’s a lot of onboarding, KYC (Knowing your customer), and customer controls, and it can be for many kinds of business. In our list of clients, we mostly have B2B connections that our customers make through using our data. Our main goal with the platform has always been to have a developer-first way of providing easy-to-develop APIs to integrate into their systems.

The whole idea is to have a unified way of connecting to and getting the information they need across several countries. Until today, our primary focus has been the Nordic market, but we are also extending into Europe, and the first stop has been Spain.

How big of a role does technology play in the success of your business? What exactly is the software team doing within Roaring?

Technology is fundamental, since our product is a Software-as-a-service product, it’s entirely cloud-based and hosted through Amazon.

The team is tackling the API platform's building operations and analyzing, storing, and loading data.

We have our “web way” of consuming the data where you can have a company account and multiple company users screening customers and suppliers through the platform, which is basically just a layer on top of our APIs.

And then, of course, there is the connection handling of our APIs and the webhooks to monitor already screened customers.

For all of this, we have a part of the team managing the frontend of the web development and customer management. Then we have our information APIs and the database and the loading of these databases. Of course, all of this is done by our tech team.

We see the benefits of having a certain golden ratio of employees in-house and working remotely. I am not sure what the ideal formula is, but it’s really good to have some people not working from the same place; it adds this productivity of being undisturbed, which you cannot deny.

As a CTO and co-founder of Roaring, what are your most significant challenges in assembling and managing a tech team?

It’s tough to get a good team together in general; the IT workforce market is super competitive today. As you know, we have a couple of devs sourced through Proxify, but we also need to have a bunch of people in-house to handle things here. Getting the people that work in the office has become a lot harder than working with freelancers, especially after the pandemic.

When you’re trying to hire people to work as programmers in Sweden, and they demand remote work, my first thought always becomes, “Okay, what’s the reason for me hiring people from three blocks away working from home when I can get people working through Proxify?”

That’s the biggest struggle for me. I can handle some hybrid versions of working, but while scaling up in size, it’s imperative for me to have a team that works together.

How does your team currently look? How many developers are in-office, and how many are working remotely?

Remote, in all its glory, has its limitations in building a well-connected team. So for the guys I want to work with in Sweden, I want them to be here, meet with people and work together. Other than that, we also have people who work remotely, and we quite enjoy that too. Right now, we have two guys through Proxify working from different locations, and two of the company’s founders are working from two other locations, so the team is quite spread out.

We see the benefits of having a certain golden ratio of employees in-house and working remotely. I am not sure what the ideal formula is, but it’s really good to have some people not working from the same place; it adds this productivity of being undisturbed, which you cannot deny.

We knew we could trust [Proxify] to find good programmers. And we didn’t have to search for long. I don’t know how you do it or how your process works, but it’s been working really well for us.

You’ve been a client of Proxify for a while — and gradually upgraded to having more team members from our network. What was the reason for this retention? What are the most significant benefits you found from Proxify’s service?

You (Proxify) found great people to work with; that’s the big takeaway for me. Our first Proxify member has been with us from the beginning of our collaboration and has been such an asset to our team. They're an outstanding developer and a part of our team now. From our point of view, he could have just as well been hired.

After that experience, it was easier for us to contact you to get more people. We knew we could trust you to find good programmers. And we didn’t have to search for long. I don’t know how you do it or how your process works, but it’s been working really well for us.

As someone managing a hybrid team of both remote and on-location employees, what would your advice be to managers struggling to create team cohesion?

I can’t say that I have a playbook for this; we struggle with it too. But having remote team members can bring about certain productivity when delivering tedious tasks that need focus and undisturbed peace.

What do you feel are the most essential traits in a remote developer?

The first thing is to be good at working remotely and not be easily distracted. Self-discipline is one of the biggest traits, showing that you work hard because trust is critical in this relationship. In the end, it’s more of a personality thing. On the other side of the coin, you, as a team leader, need to show that you really see and appreciate their work.

One of the reasons people are sometimes reluctant to work with freelancers is that they think they’ll just deliver a task and not invest themselves in criticism or feedback. What has your experience been when it comes to this? Are they an active part of the team?

Yeah, they are, and that is vital to us. To think that people are being hired directly in your company doesn’t necessarily mean they care about how things move forward and how their brick affects the entire building. I think involvement is important, especially if you tend to keep these team members. If you’re trying to do something long-term, then, as always, they need to feel like they’re part of the team and they are involved in the company.

We went into the whole experience without any particular expectations. We figured we should test this and see how it works. We’re very happy with our cooperation and the developers feel like part of our team. We would definitely be open to using Proxify again for future consultancy needs.

Is it hard to source developers with a particular skill or expertise in your field of business? Why do you think it’s a smart career choice to have these skills for developers?

It’s tough to source programmers overall, and I always think it’s a creative line of work. It’s more about how creatively they think and how able they are to solve problems than which languages they can master. If you’re a good programmer, you’ll be able to switch languages in weeks. It’s more about how your brain works than anything else.

Were there any benefits that you didn’t foresee that you got with Proxify? Why and how would you recommend us to other CTOs and company founders?

We went into the whole experience without any particular expectations. We figured we should test this and see how it works. We’re very happy with our cooperation and the developers feel like part of our team. We would definitely be open to using Proxify again for future consultancy needs.

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