Some startups hire new employees on LinkedIn, others recruit from job posts, but Durham-based Seguno hopes to find their new addition to the team in a different way—through a hack-a-thon.
On the weekend of Feb. 8-9, the SaaS startup will host a “Java Joust,” where ambitious Java software engineers can flex their technical skills and compete for various prizes. The biggest prize of all? A potential place on the Seguno staff.
A hack-a-thon is a sprint-like event where engineers and designers collaborate on software projects in an intense burst, typically over 12 or 24 hours. Seguno CEO Chris Geiss said he thinks the unique setting of a hack-a-thon would attract the ideal Seguno candidate: a passionate engineer with a joy for coding who is a self-starter and works well in a fast-moving, creative environment.
“We think that someone who’s into hack-a-thons and those kinds of events would fit in well in a startup environment,” said Geiss, “because you’re trying to move fast, you need to get something out the door quickly.”
Seguno, an email marketing tool for Shopify merchants, was founded by Geiss and his high school friend, Marc Baumbach, in 2017. Both Geiss and Baumbach previously worked at Bronto, which provides an email marketing platform. [Editor’s Note: Bronto was co-founded by GrepBeat Godfather Joe Colopy.]
Seguno takes the email marketing expertise that Geiss and Baumbach developed at Bronto and applies it to the ecommerce platform Shopify. Seguno works by helping Shopify users make, manage and review their email marketing from within the comfort of the Shopify app.
“We have always been pretty interested in the email marketing world,” Baumbach said, “and there are plenty of opportunities to make that an easier thing for a lot of people. Since we’re entrepreneurial, we wanted to target other people who are just starting out and trying to be entrepreneurial themselves, so the Shopify market is interesting to us.”
Since its first year of bootstrapping, Seguno has caught the eye of Colopy Ventures, which became an investor in 2018. Seguno was a beta partner for Shopify’s launch of a marketing section within its admin, and the startup took the opportunity to embed email marketing within Shopify. Better yet: Seguno is already profitable.
While the ultimate goal is to hire one engineer at the end of the hack-a-thon, it is by no means closed to those who just want to participate for the sake of fun and prizes. The Java Joust is still in its planning stages, but further information on the event will be updated on the event’s website, javajoust.com.
“This is very much an experiment,” Baumbach said. “We don’t pretend to think this necessarily is the best way to hire. But it is a unique way to hire, and we know a lot of developers enjoy hack-a-thons. At this stage, we think the kind of developer who enjoys a hack-a-thon might be what we’re looking for.”