Inclusion is based on skills not location

August 13, 2020

This invite only developer community helps find the best developers worldwide.

Elite talent exists outside of major urban cities. Unfortunately, due to how most organizations are structured, the majority of the world’s best opportunities are confined to a limited number of mega cities. To dive deeper into this discussion, we interviewed Pradeep Sharma, the founder of Invide Labs, an invite only developer community aimed at finding the best talent worldwide.  

What does Invide Labs do?

Talent is equally distributed (50% in urban and 50% in non-urban areas) but opportunities are not. Talent in urban areas has far better access to work opportunities. Invide is an invite-only community for tech talent from such remote areas.

We discover talent from remote areas, coach them for productivity in remote work environment, connect them with world-class work opportunities and make sure they succeed and sustain in this new environment. We also organize the world's biggest completely online, completely free developer conference GitCommit.Show.

How do you assess developers who want to join the Invide community?

All of the community members go through a screening process which takes 3-7 days. Our screening process is a combination of algorithm and human verification. We minimize unconscious biases via our "Bias-Free Mode" feature (stripping out info that is likely to lead to biases e.g. sex, race, location, religion, etc.).

Screening starts with application and self-evaluation by candidates. The applications are then evaluated via our proprietary algorithm. For applications where no decision can be made via algorithm, they are verified by moderators manually. When there's a lack of verifiable information, we present one of the following challenges to candidates:

1. Q&A with candidate via email
2. Online face to face interview with moderators (experienced developers)
3. Submission of an assignment

We have a bias towards engineering (application of knowledge) than science (acquisition of theoretical knowledge) which is why we do not have any coding quizzes in the process at all.

Why do you want to help developers from outside major cities?

First, there is a personal reason which you can read about in detail here. The TL:DR; I come from a small town and my father's critical illness made me realize that I migrated to a big city chasing career growth without realizing that I am giving up the most important thing in my life, "family".

Then there is the rational reasoning. Helping developers from remote places to grow can lead to a more equitable world, and a better world where all of the human capital is utilized.

Talent is equally distributed (50% in urban and 50% in non-urban areas) but opportunities are not (I can count the cities on my fingers where I need to move to get a good work opportunity).
The talent living outside major cities usually get paid far less than their counterparts in urban cities, many of whom are less skilled than this talent.
Can we afford to not have inclusion for the talent who might become the next Einstein, the next Bill Gates or the next Linus Travoldus?

What is needed to effectively grow a remote development team?

First and foremost is the mindset.

The smooth functioning of remote team demands organizations & people to become more open. It demands people to be accountable. This openness and accountability is the building block of trust among team members. The better you become at it, the more confidently you can scale your remote team.

The rest of it is easy. I have structured my thoughts on growing team in the form of a Free course here. One point I would like to emphasize from the course is "onboarding". I see many people neglecting onboarding of the hiring process which results in talent churn, wasted time and opportunity. I advise managers to give the needed time and attention to onboarding to make sure that the team member integrates within the team well.

What is the best practice for matching a remote developer to a company?

This is one tough problem to solve given the different goals of each company at different times, constraint of resources, inaccurate judgement of own skills, change in requirements, different people involved in hiring and biases of each of those individuals.

Invide takes inspiration from nature to solve this problem. We apply the philosophy of "Natural Selection" or "Evolution Theory".

We do that by using AI which at first guesses the best candidates via our knowledge base of matchmaking algorithms and then evolves into a personalized matchmaking algorithm for each case. While it's a complex engineering solution, it's quite intuitive on the outside. Check it out here.

Why do location barriers negatively impact inclusion?

When opportunities are limited to a few big cities, why not just move the talent to the big city? Talent from remote areas goes to urban cities. This is what's already happening, a mass migration of talent.

Looking at this from a macro level, migration is not a sustainable strategy. Looking at India, a majority (66%) of Indian population lives in non-urban areas (source: World Bank Data 2018). That's around 900m people. Worldwide, this number is around 4 billion people. On the other hand, as I said, I can count the number of cities where I can get a decent career growth. Resources of a  relatively few number of big cities for 4 billion people is not a sustainable plan.

We already see big problems in these cities such as pollution (search for #DelhiPollution), overcrowdedness, crimes, traffic, management, etc. Mass migration is already creating problems that we need to deal with actively.

On a micro level, there are many people who cannot move to these cities due to different constraints and many who do not want to move but have to. People who cannot move, they are clearly at opportunity disadvantage. We have lots of data to support the fact that given a choice, most people would not move to these cities.

Most Invide applicants (65%) preferred working remotely. Sooner or later in the career, most people want to move back near to their hometowns. This desire is so strong that many people are willing to take a pay cut from their existing salaries to go back home.

A few reasons given by our community members why they do not want to move to big cities:

It is costly to move and live in a big city
Prefer the peaceful lifestyle in their small city
Family member requires care
Family does not want to move to a big city because that would disrupt their existing social circle
Health reasons e.g. Asthma patient cannot move to polluted city
Simply want freedom to live anywhere they want, so they can travel, explore their passions, etc.

How can someone who lives outside of a major city get the skills to be a top developer?

"Learn as if you were to live forever" - Mahatma Gandhi

Continuous self-learning is the most important aspect of being a good developer. Most successful developers I meet, love trying new things. They keep learning (via online resources, articles, MOOCs, books, etc.) and keep practicing their craft.

While everyone is different when it comes to their personal learning style, some areas that can have a big impact include:
Share your knowledge with others (via blog, open source, social media, etc.)
Actively participate in online communities (e.g. stackoverflow, Github, Invide, etc.). Ask for help, help others and build relationships.
Connect with more and more people from whom you have chance to learn something
If you're a fresher, checkout online bootcamps(e.g. Freecodecamp), many bootcamps offer faster learning of software engineering building blocks.

For the most part, people living in rural areas have the same access to learning as people in urban environments.

One learning area rural dwellers lack is the "access to tech conferences". Tech conferences are usually organized in big cities and have expensive ticket prices. This is a barrier in learning everywhere. At Invide we are doing our part of responsibility to make quality tech conferences accessible for people. Invide organizes a tech conference Git Commit Show which is completely online and free conference. We host leading tech speakers and bring the hidden talent from various corners of the world on a single platform.

Can you share an Invide success story?

One Invide success story on top of my mind comes from the feedback of this amazing entrepreneur Jasveer. Jasveer built a hotel booking platform from the ground up and scaled it from 0 to 100 cities over the course of one year. Recently he was awarded the Forbes 30 Under 30 title. His startup QikStay was an early stage startup back then when he started using Invide. At the time he wanted to move fast by shipping product fast, without making the wrong hire.

He got connected with a developer via Invide and got his product built by working remotely with the developer. Initially the developer was engaged part-time and later on they hired him full time.  This developer became the key tech leader of the organization and still continues to lead the QikStay engineering team with knowledge and a great attitude.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes, being a passionate developer & entrepreneur, the desire to help out other developers & entrepreneurs comes naturally to me. If anyone wants to reach out, you can contact me at [email protected]    

Just like the story of Jasveer:

Tech hiring is the #1 challenge of any startup founders.

Organizations fail to build a successful tech product 68% of the time. It is critically important to get your technical hiring right. I'm sure there are many amazing entrepreneurs who read Nossa Capital. If they are looking to create a competitive advantage by solving this challenge, I would love to invite them to discover experienced software engineers via Invide Community and utilize Invide Flow to efficiently manage the team with a high performance culture of trust and accountability.

We also continue to add more and more value to community members by partnering with organizations. If you have anything to offer to the Invide developer community members, please reach out at [email protected]invidelabs.com. We have our next tech conference Git Commit Show planned for March 2020.

Finally, I would love to invite developers to join Invide accelerator program to fast-track their career. Here's an exclusive invitation code for your readers: NOSSACAPITAL. This code can be used to apply to Invide, we respond to applications within 48 hrs.