Gilt Senior Software Engineer Kevin Schultz represents for our mobile team in a big way this weekend, when he takes the stage at the first-ever Droidcon NYC conference for Android developers. Kevin will present at 5:10 PM tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 20) on “Building Maintainable Android Applications”—focusing on Android-specific architecture, testing patterns, best practices, and tools to help teams build large-scale apps successfully. Droidcon takes place tomorrow and Sunday at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan; go here to register!
Gilt’s NYC office hosts our first tech meetup of autumn 2014! On Wednesday, Sept. 24, Henrik Engström of Typesafe will present “What Constitutes a Reactive Application?”—a presentation on Typesafe Activator and the four traits that constitute a reactive application. Henrik will demonstrate, in code, how we use an reactive approach when building Typesafe Activator with Play and Akka. The emphasis will be on how Play is utilized, but there will also be some simple Akka examples. All code examples will be in Scala.
Go here to RSVP. Refreshments will be provided by Peroni and by Krave Jerky!
Yours truly will mentor teams during this weekend’s first-ever Code the Deal: a hackathon in which participants will create tech products to improve legal and business transactions. Organized by the New York chapter of Legal Hackers—worldwide organization for lawyers, policymakers, academics and entrepreneurs interested in the intersection of law and technology—the hackathon will run from Friday to Sunday, Sept. 19-21 and feature talks, parties, and prizes for the winning teams. In addition to Gilt, other companies and institutions providing mentors or judges include Etsy, Brooklyn Law School, Thomson Reuters and Nixon Peabody.
Fresh from her presentation (along with Gilt Director of Program Management Justin Riservato; together they are “Flemivato”) at this year’s Atlassian Summit in San Francisco, Gilt Senior Director, PMO Heather Fleming is featured in Ispossible in Tech's “Women Who Rock” video montage. Ispossible aims to increase the number of women leaders in tech. Check out Twitter and look up the hashtags #GLOBALWOMENINTECH #ISPOSSIBLEINTECH and #ISPOSSIBLEWWR to learn more about their awareness-raising efforts and to see videos of other “women who rock”!
The Gilt team is excited to host the next Dublin Scala Users Group event at our awesome new office in Dublin 4! Here’s what is on the menu:
Happy Performance Testing—DSLing Your System with Gatling: In this talk, Citi Lead Mobile Architect Aman Kohli and Citi Software Engineer Kevin Yu Wei Xia will present their experiences using Gatling, a load-testing framework written in Scala. The power of Gatling is the DSL it provides to allow writing meaningful and expressive tests. Aman and Kevin will provide an overview of the framework, a description of their development environment and goals, and present their test results.
CAVE: An Overview: Gilt Senior Software Engineer Val Dumitrescu will provide an overview of CAVE: Gilt’s open-source, managed service for monitoring infrastructure, platform, and application metrics that provide visibility into your system’s performance and operational levels. CAVE is built with Scala, Play and Akka.
The meetup takes place on September 23 at 7 PM; go here to RSVP.
Last week the women of #gilttech invited New York City-based documentary filmmaker Erin Bagwell (center) over to Gilt’s Manhattan office for snacks, bevs and an informal chat. Erin’s latest project is Dream, Girl: a documentary that tells the stories of women entrepreneurs. Watch a clip right here:
Erin just raised more than $100,000 to finish Dream, Girl. That’s nearly twice as much as she’d originally sought—a fact that indicates the strong interest in her project. And she’s alread received a lot of press coverage from the likes of Bust, Elle and The Daily Beast. The Gilt Tech women were excited to hear more about the inspiration behind the documentary and Erin’s plans for its completion. Thanks to Erin for visiting us!
Here’s Gilt VP Product Management & UX Dominique Essig talking with fellow (fellow-ess?) #gilttech women Chrissy Fleming and Lauren Ribando. Gilt engineers Nabila Yusaf, Jennifer Shin and Archana Kumar are in the back.
A delegation from Gilt’s International team also joined in for the discussion:
If you’re a tech woman who would like to be considered as a future guest of the Gilt Tech women, drop a line at lapple at gilt dot com.
Gilt Senior Software Engineer Kevin Schultz is one of the featured speakers at the first-ever Droidcon NYC, taking place this weekend (Sept. 20-21, 2014) for the edification and personal enrichment of Android devs in NYC and beyond. Today (Sept. 16, 2014) at 12:30 PM EST, Kevin and others will be available to answer all of your Android-related development questions at this Droidcon-related Hangout/teaser. Another Kevin—Kevin Galligan of Touch Labs—will moderate!
Here’s Gilt CIO Steve Jacobs pouring a glass of wine to celebrate the merger of Gilt’s Web Design team with the greater #gilttech family. The party was our last big bash before our entire team moved from the fifth floor down to the fourth. Cheese, crackers and other goodies tied us over till dinnertime:
Bringing Design under the tech umbrella enables us to move even faster and more cohesively as we continue innovating to create exceptional customer experiences. Gilt Senior Interactive Designer Christopher Barr, VP Product Management & UX Dominique Essig and Head of User Experience Dominique Essig and Design Stephen Spyropoulos raise a toast to even closer collaboration going forward:
Gilt VP Product Management and User Experience Dominique Essig is one of the featured speakers at tomorrow’s Brand Innovators Fashion Week: a summit for brand marketers and managers, media directors and others in the digital marketing world. Dom will be a panelist at “Technology Rocks the Runway,” a panel on how fashion and beauty brands are using cutting-edge technologies to engage with consumers. Go here to register!
The Gilt tech team takes seriously our collective mission to build and maintain a work culture based on autonomy, trust and empowerment (and fun). We’re always interested in learning about how other companies approach the same goal, so we’re excited to see that the literature on building a progressive work culture seems to be growing. To that end, this week some of us are heading to powerHouse Arena, a popular bookstore located in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood, to attend a launch event for Profit & Purpose: How Social Innovation is Transforming Business for Good (Wiley).
Written by NYC-based author/lawyer/blogger/entrepreneur Kyle Westaway, Profit & Purpose examines efforts by 13 organizations and companies to “prov[e] that an organization can generate profit and purpose” via social innovation. It also identifies seven key principles for companies wishing to “profit with a purpose”—from “connecting with authenticity” to “designing with humility.”
Recently we chatted with Kyle to learn more about his message.
Gilt: What inspired you to write Profit & Purpose?
KW: The book is the culmination of a lot of years spent thinking about how profit and purpose work together. My journey began while I was a social entrepreneur myself. While spending a lot of time on the ground as part of a nonprofit focused on the sex trafficking industry, I learned that the commercial sex trade was a huge, complex issue. Our nonprofit spotted a smaller issue within the big issue—women would leave the trade, but drift back into it primarily because of their economic situation. That broke our hearts and got us thinking. My colleagues and I thought, “Why don’t we create a company that helps them move from the bars and brothels to something else?”
Gilt: Why a company and not a nonprofit?
KW: The women didn’t want or need charity. What they wanted—just like you and I want—was a chance to make an honest living and provide for their families. There is an amazing amount of dignity in that, not found in receiving a handout.
Gilt: You also run a law firm that counsels social enterprises.
KW: Yes, I’ve spent about the last five or six years focused exclusively on that, and have seen a lot of companies both small and big try to figure out how to do social enterprise. I also teach and try to identify case studies of social enterprise success. I’ve found that there’s not a ton of data. So I thought, ‘What if I go on my own exploratory journey to find companies that successfully blend profit and purpose?’ Curiosity and the desire to be a better teacher and counselor ultimately led me to write the book.
Gilt: How did you go about choosing subjects for the book?
KW: In terms of establishing criteria, I was pretty broad—so the book is tax status-agnostic, with seven for-profits and six nonprofits featured. I believe innovative models for social good can emerge from any legal structure. At the same time, I wanted to focus on entities that used the rigor of business to produce real impacts.
Gilt: What’s the common thread tying IBM, Nike, charity: water, and other companies featured in your book?
KW: It’s cohesive in that all of these companies have innovative business models that are creating tangible social and environmental impacts. I ruled out corporate social responsibility initiatives—people making a lot of money doing nice things, then giving a little to charities—as well as old-school traditional, inefficient charity. I focus on the sweet spot in the middle—a new emerging class of social entrepreneurs. I see a lot of my friends and clients thinking about things differently and wanted to highlight their work.
Gilt: Some of your case-study subjects are long-established multinational corporations. Can you talk about some of those?
KW: One of the stories that I tell in the book is about Coca-Cola—specifically about Ekocycle, their partnership with Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. It’s akin to a Product Red for the recycling cause. It’s got the dual goal of making recycling cool, and then encouraging consumers to be more thoughtful about the products they buy. It has been out for two years and is a tiny, tiny project considering the scale of Coca-Cola, but it continues to grow. We’ll see how big it becomes.
Gilt: Having spoken to representatives at Coke, Nike, and other legacy companies, do you think it’s easier to connect profits and purpose if you’re new?
KW: It’s both easier and harder for new companies to do this. Easier, in that a small group of people dedicated to an idea can affect bigger change more quickly in the organization. Harder, in the sense that you don’t have the stability of the huge corporate war chest to do whatever you want. Coke, IBM, and Nike can do an experiment the size of a whole start-up and it will have no impact on the company’s overall financial health. What’s most challenging to big companies is if they’re set in a clear, pure-profit maximization or shareholder mentality.
Gilt: Some of the principles you endorse in your book—authenticity, honesty—are very important to our team. How did you settle on the final list?
KW: As I was doing the research for the book, I realized how much the customer experience matters—and how a great experience is more and more expected. Wallet share can be earned through good pricing, convenience, and other things, but if you create that emotional connection—especially for premium goods—customers are really excited about staying loyal to a brand.
Gilt: Our CIO, Steve Jacobs, just gave a presentation on the importance of connecting emotionally with customers.
KW: Every touch that a customer has with the brand is an opportunity to build loyalty—or not. A lot of the companies I’ve talked to try to live by the Zappos mentality, that customer service is your best marketing.
Gilt: The term “customer experience” applies to a work relationship, in the sense that you need to give your employees a great experience or else they’ll move on. Values like honesty and authenticity are strong pillars for establishing a workplace with “purpose”—but how do you measure such values?
KW: Some are more easily measured than others. I do think that figuring out how to measure what you value is an important goal—and there are ways. The last chapter of the book focuses on honest evaluation. If values really matter, they need to be measured. You need to quantify those values or else you’re not setting employees up for success. One example I cite is Method, who, every Monday morning, have a team shout-out highlighting someone who really lived up to the values during the previous week—and how. This kind of thing provides a very clear way for people to concretely understand what those values are.
Gilt: At Gilt, have a platform that enables employees to give each other shout-outs—and shopping credits—using a common dashboard. Some of the general things we reward are “caring too much,” “sharing the spotlight” and “using both sides of our brains.”
KW: I love that! That’s definitely creating an honest evaluation based on goals. And it incentivizes upholding the company values. One of the ways values become ingrained is to include a public recognition aspect of it — in your case, you’re lifting these values up and there’s a bit of public praise along with it.
Gilt: You present the notion of “profiting with purpose” as something companies will have to strive for in order to survive. Does this have to do with demographics—ie what millennials want?
KW: As millennials enter the workforce, there’s a stronger and clearer desire among them for both remuneration (financial rewards) but also a clear purpose. A high level of engagement will keep them at their seat and producing, and will also keep them from going to the competition. I do think the realization isn’t just to keep talent, but to engage them.