SlashData is a developer analyst firm. Our mission is to help the world understand developers and developers understand the world. On one hand, we help companies get the right data to understand their target audience.
Most of our client base is technology companies that are looking to improve their engagement, marketing, and support to developers that would be using their or competitor tools, products, SDKs, and APIs.
SlashData helps these companies understand where developers are, how to reach them, the market size across the areas we track (ie. Mobile, Desktop, Web, Embedded, IIoT, AR/VR, ML, Data Science, Cloud, Game, and Consumer Electronics) and industry verticals. We also track where developers are going, and how satisfied they are with what the companies are offering.
From the developers’ perspective, we help them understand the world. We have invested in our own community, the Developer Nation, which aims to help developers advance in their careers.
As an organisation, we care about the community. The Developer Nation community is one way we support that effort.
Tell us about yourself?
I grew up in a small business environment working at my family’s restaurant. My first real start in any job was very young: when I was too short to reach the cash register and my dad made me a step stool.
Fast-forward through college, I studied International Business and European Affairs. I have had my share of wearing different hats: from database admin to communications, European-funded projects for sustainable energy resources, teaching English, customer support, Sales and Exporting, and sales in finance.
Then, I joined SlashData to run the Client Relations department. The entrepreneurial spirit, I was introduced to early on, never left me, so I found myself not only running the sales department for a few years, but also working with nearly every other team at SlashData to find ways to improve revenue stream, client satisfaction, product/market fit, and internal ops and more.
Then, the founder of the company approached me to transition into the CEO role, which I’ve held since.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I would probably say two things:
1. Challenge all assumptions
Nothing has to be as it was when you found it. This isn’t easy to do from day one, but you should work towards getting your head out of the day-to-day and work on seeing the wider picture. Once you do that, you can start working beyond “things as they are”, and make them to “what they can be”.
2. When you find people with an elevated skill-set, let them shine!
Allowing the stars within your company the space to create and be their best, actively fosters business growth, while also pulling you and the company forward.
There may be new opportunities you haven’t thought about because you’re stuck in “business as usual”. People love to grow, and you should be working to bridge business and personal growth simultaneously. This should also be reflected in your hiring.
Hire people that are going to help drive growth in areas you want to grow as well. Hire for the company you need to be 3 years down the road. Do not to get stuck hiring for your immediate needs only.
What problem does your business solve?
Simply put, we’re helping companies make more informed decisions. The market has an unquenchable thirst for data and developers are a notoriously difficult audience to reach.
Companies come to us for insights on how to reach developers and to help them justify what they are building and spending on.
The type of data and research we provide helps decision makers get data-backed knowledge.
Then, they use this knowledge to support strategic planning and investments for product, marketing, engagement, and support. This includes everything: from understanding how many developers are in their target market, to why and which developers left them for their competitors.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
We knew from early on that developers were an important part of the decision-making process. Now it’s pretty common knowledge that CTOs aren’t the central decision-makers in the enterprise space.
Developers are heavily influencing what companies invest in or they are the actual decision-makers themselves. In fact, 64% of developer team leads are influencing buying decisions compared to 53% of CTOs.
Developers have been an important target audience for some of the leading technology companies. These companies place a lot of effort and budget on trying to understand and improve how they serve developers. Those in the space can probably tell you who has a ‘developer first’ strategy and who possibly is lagging behind on that philosophy.
We’ve historically served those folks, the ‘developer first’ organisations. During the last couple of years, we’ve really seen a drastic uptick in the demand for developer research across the board.
Especially since the last 2 years’ surge of digitalisation. The growth trend was there, but the pandemic really accelerated it.
Here are some examples of the problems we are solving for our clients:
- Helping them understand how many developers there are, within their major target audiences (globally or regionally)
- Where they are coming from – in terms of skill-set and education
- What they are working on now
- Helping them understand how developers score them and their competitor products
- How developers rate their services and programs.
- There is a lot you can answer if you just ask your target audience. Whether they are within your active user base or not, their views can offer great insight.
What is your magic sauce?
The magic sauce is a combination of solid methodology, high-quality sample size, expertise in the developer research space, and a company culture that values collaboration, transparency, and performance at the highest level.
We know from our clients that sample quality matters. We apply a very strict methodology that we actively improve over time to capture the best possible results.
At the same time, we are the only research firm in the developer space that has an active and growing developer community we tap into to trace developer behaviours and growth over time. This accounts to only 10% of our sample size.
While others only use 3rd party panels or ageing lists, we have invested in a team that with each survey wave, actively and continuously engages developers, across numerous channels, to bring them into our surveys and join our community.
In the past we used to only produce syndicated research: do one thing and do it well. The demand for more customised services could not be ignored, coming from our active client base and from new potential clients.
When we started opening that up, we saw nearly everyone we talked to, had come to us first. The demand is so high we are working hard to grow, hire and scale right now.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
Our long-term vision is to offer more diverse services in our space. I mentioned earlier the drastic growth of the past few years.
Obviously, it’s also fuelled by our decision to expand into more customised research services. We will continue in that direction, and cover everything and anything our clients need within the developer research space.
We won’t change our niche, developers are our focus and that will continue. Speaking to organisations and leaders serving within this space, there’s lots of room for growth and demand is healthier than ever. We feel SlashData owns the research corner of our space, and we want that to continue to be even stronger.
Of course some strategic partnerships always help us along the way. We will continue the community investment not only for developers but we’ve also curated and managed a really active community of Developer Relations, Marketing and Product leaders that come together in our DevRelx community. I expect more developments and partnerships there, but no spoilers.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
We used to only do syndicated research and now we offer more customised research services. This now includes ad hoc surveys, helping our clients improve how they design and run developer surveys to their own communities, understanding what our clients are asking and then going through years of research and data to get them the answers they need.
Also, we can now run short, poll surveys, and custom data analysis based on all existing data. We have our own space to showcase all our data and our own survey tool, both built in-house to support the work and how we deliver.
When we went from producing fewer standard research products to a much more versatile offering, we felt like everything had changed. We needed to introduce new skill-seta and training for the production teams. Project management and coordination were needed in a very different way than we had used to.
We had to create, new processes and templates for many more types of deliverables than we were used to. It’s still a process, we aren’t 100% there and we’re learning every day, with every new project type.
As a result of that decision, demand got to be more than we could handle.
We had to let go of some really interesting projects to ensure we delivered on our existing project pipeline. So, we realised we needed to grow in numbers, and get more people on board to serve the increased demand. Hiring is really tough, we care deeply about high-performance and cultural fit equally.
Getting skilled people is hard enough, getting skilled people with great attitudes makes things even harder. We care about newcomers’ onboarding experience, we care about the existing team having a great experience when new people join their team too.
I don’t want this to sound like skilled people don’t have great attitudes, though! We’ve hired some amazing people, with so much potential and we have a lot of fun as a group too. There’s nothing better than that, and I’m really optimistic that we will continue to grow and find really great hires.
By the way, if anyone is interested in our space, they should check out our open positions!
Lastly, I have to mention, the challenge of finding and engaging developers. Developers are in high demand, they are expensive to reach and hard to get. That’s why we are investing heavily in community building.
Growing the Developer Nation community is core to that. We have so much to offer developers, so that’s what we are working on now.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
If you are interested in the developer marketing and relations professionals community or our events you can join DevRelX- check that out here: https://www.devrelx.com/
The Developer Nation team is always looking for partners – reach out to them here: https://www.developernation.net/survey/partner