Decoding Capillary Technology’s Culture Code: “Capillary is a place where every employee’s ideas are welcomed and appreciated”November 18, 2014 2014-11-18 21:18
Decoding Capillary Technology’s Culture Code: “Capillary is a place where every employee’s ideas are welcomed and appreciated”
Decoding Capillary Technology’s Culture Code: “Capillary is a place where every employee’s ideas are welcomed and appreciated”
Capillary Technologies, a cloud-based retail, customer engagement management startup was established in 2008 by Aneesh, Krishna & Ajay.
Capillary’s cloud-based platform powers customer engagement, clienteling, loyalty and social CRM solutions. The company has more than 140 major brands worldwide as its clients, in the process reaching over 70 million consumers across 10000+ stores.
It has raised angel fund from IIT KGP, Qualcomm Ventures & other angels. In 2012, it raised Series A of $15.5mn & in 2014, it secured strategic investment from Amex and Series B of $12mn. As of now, it has offices in 8 countries.
With 350+ employees, Capillary Technology is a rapidly growing product company. During its growth process, the company has retained the things they loved from the early days such as passion, energy, innovation, fun and community, while getting more organized in areas like people practices, quality, communication and collaboration(across technology, services and field teams). This evolution is required as the firm targets more geographies and on-boards more customers who expect a higher quality and more precision in delivery.
What goes on at Capillary Technologies?
The technical problems that Capillary Technology solves for retailers are varied, complex and exciting. It starts with gathering, merging and enriching retail data across offline and online channels. Capillary processes many terabytes of data and billions in transaction values both real-time along with data derived using advanced rule processing engines and Big Data technologies. This is then integrated with heterogeneous environments ranging from store PoS devices, social sites, mobile and ecommerce platforms to build intelligence and actionable insights.
Each team at Capillary uses a light weight flow based Kanban to track their work. Some teams have also experimented with Scrumban. The firm encourages physical boards with avatars for each member versus online tools to create the community atmosphere and facilitate more people interactions. Quality is given a lot of importance both from automation as well as engineering mindset. Capillary says that this is important to their customers as they run critical retail operations for them. Engineers are encouraged to write codes using a unit test driven development with continuous integration.
For instance, Capillary’s quality team are responsible not just for quality assurance but are also empowered to drive automation and evangelize quality as a practice, across all technology verticals.
Customer interaction and services.
Being connected to the retailers is critical for the technology team to innovate and come out with great products. Therefore as the team size increases, Capillary has plans to get more creative in ways to get the team connected to their customers, to get customer’s inputs on their products and to brainstorm with them on ideas without getting them overloaded with information.
Capillary Technologies, today, is the leader in the world of insights driven, omni-channel retail customer engagement. They enable retail marketers to easily and quickly manage their customer data, gain insights and personalize their customer engagement across omni-channels, driving a significant increase in sales and loyalty with a scalable, open and globally ready platform.
Workforce at Capillary
The company had conducted an internal survey and found out that the two reasons that drive people in the company are the hardcore technical work that they do and the people they interact with.
The Technology teams at Capillary has many brilliant engineers working on cool technologies who are focused on solving extremely complex problems every day for their 150-odd customers, while providing them a clear ROI in a time frame. The company says that they are really proud of their team dynamics.
I would describe Capillary Technologies as a challenging place to work, with both a great team and atmosphere. The one thing I like most about my job, is that, since the time I’ve been here, things are always changing in order to keep up with the demands of today’s technology; it keeps things fresh, exciting, and challenging. Capillary is a great place for young and creative minds to apply their skills and knowledge they possess and let their talent prosper in a positive working environment. – Abhilash
Being a SaaS platform for consumer-facing businesses, multi-tenancy is a key challenge for the firm to manage.Over the last couple of years, Capillary has been growing rapidly across various geographies in the APAC, Middle East, Africa, US and UK. The amount of data that they manage has increased about 10 times over the last year. Every employee at Capillary Technology is constantly innovating on ways to increase the semantic meaning of data as well as to automate insights and intelligence collected from them. Having customers across the retail industry from multiple geographies with differing needs requires a highly configurable platform that can be setup easily and quickly. Security also plays a very critical role as a huge amount of both customer and transactional data for retailers has to be managed.
In countries like India, the company’s products have to often operate in low-bandwidth systems (in retail stores) and are yet to be connected to the cloud. This requires much innovation to figure out on how to integrate into such environments.
Each year, I am exposed to new roles in which I learn new technologies, contribute to a diverse range of projects and accept new, exciting challenges. Each day, I look forward to the camaraderie and sessions where the technology teams share their best practices and concentrate on expanding our combined knowledge base. The open door culture and the sort of people that you get to work with, makes you feel like coming to work every day. – Pravanjan
Capillary has an equal mix of Technology, Services, Consulting & Support and Business Enabling Functions like Sales, Marketing and HR. While the technology team is responsible for creating all the IP in the company as well as owning the platform and products, the Services team configures the platform and converts products (and platforms) into solutions for customers. The consulting team helps customers realize ROI on their customer engagements and analytics. Both Technology and Services work closely with the field as well as customers and are together critical for Capillary’s success.
While within Technology, Capillary has a few central teams such as Quality Engineering, Service Engineering and Tech Writers, the technology team is broadly split into 4 cross-functional group – Platform, Analytics, Applications and Omni Channel. Each group incorporates developers, QE, PM and UxD. These groups work very closely together – visioning out the product, executing initiatives and innovating.
Capillary has a great work culture, which provides individuals with ample opportunities to succeed. With a relatively flat organizational structure, Capillary encourages innovative thinking and gives everyone a sound hearing, regardless of the seniority of the individual. The mentorship at the organization is simply superb, enabling channelization of raw energy and execution of good ideas brought in by young employees. Personally it has been very satisfying to get an opportunity to discuss ideas with the senior management and be enabled to execute them, at a relatively early stage of my career. – Anjali
Individuality to every team
While Capillary maintains a central roadmap, every functional group has the freedom to function like a micro-startup. The development lead and product manager work closely with the team, field and customers to define their initiatives. Each functional group has the freedom to ideate and incorporate micro innovations. Typically, these can be included and released any time and by the respective team. Larger ideas that require investment are often either visioned out further or prototyped to test for feasibility.
For example, the engineering team came up with a central dashboard of metrics all on their own time. The idea for Capillary’s Ecommerce Marketer product was initially created through an engineering hack then iteratively prototyped into its current incarnation.
I’ve been at Capillary for more than 3 years now and would describe it as work mixed with a lot of fun and laughter. Ours is a close knit team which is not only helpful but also very fun loving. The company is on a fast track journey into its future. We are seeing some very exciting times, catering to new customers along with old successful ones using different technologies. I think it is amazing to be a part of a company that is adapting, restructuring and evolving into a giant. – Suganya
One of Capillary’s moves to improve its workforce is to encourage rotation of engineers across teams, especially those who have been in the same role for a year. The firm believes that it is a win-win for everyone as employee gets the opportunity to expand his/her knowledge and it also helps the firm build more of an all-rounded engineer who has a broader viewpoint of the company’s tech stack and a potentially stronger foundation for internal leaders of the future.
Being a diverse technology driven environment there is always a lot to learn for everyone at Capillary. Each group handles different issues. For example, the platform team had driven an initiative that re-invented the company’s transactional platform by defining a unique way to share their databases. This project required understanding across technology stacks, groups and also required a lot of knowledge sharing.
Employee Oriented Environment
Capillary is a place where every employee’s ideas are welcomed and appreciated. Product managers and developers work hand-in hand. The co-founders and the Senior Management are extremely supportive of ideation. The founders back in IIT Kharagpur had initiated the IIT innovation incubator and continue to do so in Capillary.
All technical and concept documents are centrally available to all teams at all time. Capillary has also introduced Tech Talk Thursdays (TTT) as a forum to share information. They have also initiated an Architecture Forum that introduces the concept of flash talks where any individual can informally present a topic, code or design. The firm is also in the works on launching a tech blog to supplement their existing customer focused blog, so engineers and product managers can directly contribute more technical articles in the public domain.
Innovations at Capillary
In the past year, Capillary has filed about 4-5 patents (some still in progress) .They have also presented a paper in IEEE conference as well as at University Outreach programs. As a company, Capillary encourages IP and invests in filing them across multiple countries.
The company believes that employees at Capillary expect the senior management to communicate their vision clearly, help clear the path of difficult issues so the team can focus better, innovate and be agile. Empowerment, collaboration and communication are key qualities that the company endeavors to provide every employee with.
This is evident in the fact that they have initiated biweekly Sales Power Hours which helps the field teams to understand the products better. Capillary also holds a weekly technology meeting to review all the initiative as well as resolve any issues raised.
Employees at Capillary
The workforce at Capillary is a team of enthusiasts & has a relatively young technology team with an average age of 27. That being said, they do have a good mix of experienced engineers and leaders too. The company has a very open environment where freshers have the opportunity to design and code while taking support, if needed, from the senior engineers. Every new employee, as they join, are “buddied” with a more experienced engineer till they are comfortable to operate independently. The company also has a formally published communication matrix, in which every employees can meet with his/her skip level manager on a regular basis. The management team also facilitates quarterly all-hands to communicate business updates.
Recognitions and Rewards
Capillary has built a platform to recognize the performance of its employees, including programs like “peer to peer” recognition, wherein an employee can recognize another employee based on performance parameter. There is also an annual excellence award which is the annual award recognizing employees for their thought leadership, innovation, people excellence and financial savings. This also includes the traditional program of managers recognizing team members. The uniqueness is the way the rewards are shared with the employees during the monthly TGIF program and annual day celebrations.
Hiring and onboarding process.
Here are some of the traits that can help an prospective employee: The top qualities that Capillary looks for in its potential employees are passion towards programming, high energy, good problem solving skills and being a self-motivated learner with demonstrated interest in exploring new areas.The bar in hiring is always kept high and the company looks for talent that complements the existing team. Apart from the technological skills, less quantifiable, non-technical soft skills are also crucial to the performance of every job and to the success of every company.
Given the technical diversity in the company’s product, they have a pretty rigorous on-boarding process. It starts with a 2 day induction program, followed by a two week long training program across technology stacks. Then a “buddy” is assigned who helps the person on-board into one of the groups and get productive on his first project.
Senior engineers and managers go through the same induction program and are assigned a peer as a buddy. However, they are often asked to come back with an independent 1-month on-boarding plan based on their assessment of the team and area.