To debut this blog, we decided to have a chat with our founder Kieran Logan and talk about provenCoder's journey. To see the background but also to understand what were his motivations in creating the company and what are, for him, it's most important values.
Kieran Logan, Founder & CTO
- Tell us about yourself and your career
I graduated from university with a computer science degree, my first job was with a relatively large agricultural consultancy company. I loved that job. At the time there was little or no software available to develop contemporary tools for farmers and their consultants so I ended up developing a number of applications. Least cost feed formulation, herd monitoring for cattle, pigs, sheep etc. The work was ever changing, challenging but very enjoyable.
I wanted to continue working where I could get a similar wide variety of experience so I started doing consultancy software development for companies such as Siemens Nixdorf and their clients both in Ireland, UK, Germany and the USA. I got to work in a wide variety of industries from banking, fisheries, agriculture on an industrial scale, games, beverages from tea to beer to name but a few.
While working for a leading retailer with a substantial presence in tourism, I got involved in my first startup venture - a spin off from that company's main activity. I conceived of a means of automating tax refunds for tourists which, up to that point, was a very manual process. Three patents were granted and, ultimately, the company was acquired. I guess I realised working on green field projects was something I really enjoyed.
I then founded roleconnect.com which allowed companies to connect directly with IT contractors and, finally, provenCoder.com seemed a natural progression from there.
- Why did you start provenCoder?
I think that the journey of provenCoder is, first of all, linked to my own personal experience. As everyone is no doubt aware at this point, the subject of diversity in tech has been argued and discussed for some time. The topic has been well covered, Cracking the Code on Diversity in Tech by Kelli Dragovich is an excellent example. Women and Minorities in Tech, By the Numbers by Blanca Myers takes a data driven approach to crunching the numbers on participation of women and minorities in the tech industry.
As an older coder and one particularly interested in coding, I am aware of an unconscious bias in the industry relating to age - the prevailing assumption being that you have not maintained your skills, you are not current.
So I really feel strongly that an ability first approach is needed, that a healthy industry would be blind to gender, race, orientation and age (and any other unconscious bias I may have forgotten). Aline Lerner has shown in her excellent piece Resumes suck. Here’s the data. has shown that the traditional staples for finding talent, the CV, are really pretty unreliable - so why not start with checking if candidate has the necessary skills first before any further filtering.
At the end of the day, my thought was really that people should be hired based on ability, both current skills and ability to learn, and, of course, a team fit. Companies that hire only a certain type of person, a monoculture of young guys for example, are really just encouraging groupthink - variety is the spice of life!
So, ultimately, that was my real motivation, to create a platform where a person’s age, race, orientation or gender were invisible, you're just seeing their abilities to code. And, obviously, the rest was economic, I saw there was a market where some people had solutions and good ideas, but I didn't think they were fully addressing the needs of tech recruiters, either in-house or agency and equally the needs of the tech candidates.
- Where are you now?
Well, we've been live for less than a year and now working with a number of clients, getting lots of feedback. That feedback is really helping us to develop and improve the offering. With a small but hugely enthusiastic team, we're focusing on getting our marketing right so that it explains the advantages provenCoder has to offer and the values we bring.
We want to ensure that the experience for developers as realistic as possible. But I don't want to give too much away now, we have some really innovative ideas on how to bring our app to the developer community. I really want provenCoder to be an environement where programmers and coders can show off their skills. So, in summary, we are gaining more customers, improving the product and expanding our network of proven coders.
- What does the future hold for provenCoder?
I guess anybody at the moment looking at provenCoder will see it as an important tool for employers - and it is. It helps employers find the most technically suitable person. Obviously, they have to fit the culture of the company as well and work well with a team. I don't know, at this stage, if we will look to develop the "culture fit" part. I think there are people more experienced, more qualified than ourselves and will do a far better job.
At present, our product is of great benefits to employers. I also want to see it be equally of benefit to coders - it really seems to me that the current process of recruiting coders suits certain personality traits, people who are outgoing, confident in their abilities, and so on. But doesn't suit people who are more a bit more introverted or not as good at selling themselves. So, I would like to see provenCoder help level the playing field in this regard.
Secondly, we found when we spoke to both coders and employers, about this current process of doing telephone technical interviews, we realised that people have been known to game the typical recruitment systems, the use of telephone technical interviews for example. What I mean by that is that some candidates get a relation or a friend to take the technical interview call and get them through rounds of interviews. That can mean that developers are losing out on an opportunity.
By improving the way both employers and coders approach technical recruitment, by shifting the focus on to the skills of the coders and not their ability to sway an interview, I really believe that we can dramatically shake up the tech recruiting process. There is a serious skills shortage out there at the moment and the faster companies can identify the best people for their vacant roles, and the faster that coders can successfully apply for those roles that recognise and reward their strengths, the better for everyone. I honestly believe that provenCoder offers a win-win solution for everyone.