Let’s Get Real: reflecting on the realities of working at Aptible
Job search is hard. Have you ever wished that companies could only ever be brutally honest with you when you’re interviewing for an open role? Or felt let down by joining a company where you meshed perfectly with your interviewers, only to find out the culture fit wasn’t as you expected?
On the flip side, to find the right candidates, companies invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on top-notch recruiters, salaries, marketing, and employer branding. But when expectations between employer and employee turn out to be misaligned, it can be a costly and painful experience for both.
Inspired by the book Give and Get, we’ll dive into the five ingredients that reflect the realities of an employee experience at Aptible:
- vulnerabilities of our organization
- harsh realities of working with us
- true behaviours observed in our org
- strengths and benefits you’d experience as part of our team
- opportunities appreciated throughout your career here
Our goal isn’t to pitch you on a perfect, idyllic culture - because we don’t have one. By sharing with you these realities, we hope that they’ll resonate with the type of culture that gives you your sense of purpose, impact and belonging.
“I’m gonna tell you a bit about Aptible, both from my experience as a current manager and also my experience as a former customer. I’ll tell you about both the good and the bad, the great and the ugly, so that you’ll have my honest take on what it’s like to work here.”
Tell me about Aptible’s challenges, the adversity, and the long road ahead. What are the risks we face as an organization?
Aptible has been fortunate to grow organically since 2014, with minimal investment in marketing and sales. As we move forward, we want to expand our appeal to companies of all sizes and industries, not just early-stage digital health companies. But expanding from 1 to >1 industry and selling to larger companies is a new endeavor for us. We don’t have a built-out go-to-market (GTM) that we can just “turn on” targeting outside of digital health, and our product needs to change to be valuable to a wider range of companies. In support of these ambitious changes, here are the challenges we face:
- We don’t have a playbook for how to be successful in building out a GTM team that can sell to larger companies. We need to embrace a lot of experimentation and trial and error, and trust in the talent of our team to build this motion from the ground up.
- Our team size has grown by 60% in the last year and continues to expand. With each new team member comes the potential for a lot of transformation in our processes and culture, and a responsibility for us to create an environment for them to thrive.
- Finding product-market-fit is hard, and may require several iterations, adapting timelines and a lot of discovery in order for us to get there.
Each of these challenges are critical for Aptible’s success, which means every single team member plays an important role and this will require a lot of hard work and focus from all of us over the foreseeable future. It’s a high-risk/high-reward type of challenge, because we know that if we get this right, the resulting impact on the world will be massive.
The Harsh Realities
Give me an honest picture of what I’m getting myself into. What are some reasons people may not want to join Aptible?
We’re a team of 20+ operating as a team of 100, which means it’s common for people to wear several hats and need to constantly adapt to a fast-paced and changing environment. We give a lot of responsibility to each team member, because we have to, but we also demand a lot of accountability and self-motivation in return. The scope of your role one year from now may not look or sound the same as the job description you initially applied to. And you’ll often be asked “is the juice worth the squeeze?” for something you want to work on, because we must always ensure the work that we do is high leverage.
You’ll never be micromanaged, but you also won’t be handheld in your role, even during your onboarding. Team members are expected to bring in their expertise starting on Day 1, or be unafraid to be scrappy and ask questions in order to get up to speed. Expect a high level of ambiguity sometimes, especially as we navigate product-market-fit. Leave your egos at the door, because we tackle the hardest problems first, and they’re seldom ones that you can simply find solutions for on your own. There are no gods on our team who have the right answers for everything – just a bunch of people who love solving problems, so you’ll be forced to collaborate and talk to multiple people in your day-to-day.
The trade-off for flexibility in our fully remote work is: building personal relationships is hard. While we try our best to create opportunities to meet and bond in person, what you’ll get is truly dependent on how much effort you choose to give when it comes to meeting others, creating conversations and forming friendships. We’ve found that this is often not the right environment for most people, but for those that it is the right workplace for, we find that they thrive on the independence, responsibility, autonomy, and accountability.
Describe the typical behaviors that exist on the team that makes up the employee experience. What are some behaviors that I might find challenging, and what are some that are supportive?
At Aptible, we operate under a high degree of trust and reliability, so there’s a consistently high expectation of each person being accountable for the quality, timely completion, and impact of their work. We are passionate and curious problem solvers, and we don’t relate to indifference or being stagnant.
If you’re struggling for ideas, clarity or falling behind because of the sheer volume of work, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a group of teammates who are willing and eager to pitch in and help cross the finish line together. Folks who work here love crossing domain knowledge boundaries and getting their hands on all aspects of product development: ideating, interviewing customers, UX/UI design, testing prototypes, architecture design, DevOps, and everything in between. In other words, if you’re resourceful and like taking the initiative, you will thrive at Aptible.
However, if you’re the type of person who prefers to do the bare minimum or wait to be asked to start before doing, there’s a good chance you’ll fall behind, quickly feeling out of sync and siloed from the rest of your team (we don’t like quiet quitters!). Taking ownership of the role you play in our mission and strategy and supporting one another in doing the same is the best way to grow and be recognized at Aptible.
What are Aptible’s strengths as an organization, how did those come to be, and why are those strengths beneficial to me?
We make decisions with data, and we’re careful and calculated risk-takers, which has helped us build up a strong financial position with a lot of resiliencies, and operational efficiencies. This provides you with benefits in the form of learning budgets, equal and fair compensation, and the freedom to try out tools that enable your best work. At Aptible, you can comfortably focus on building product and doing meaningful work without the fear that failure will result in mass layoffs. You’ll also never be asked to cut corners or compromise quality or security.
What’s the upside of working at Aptible, and how do these relate to my career and development goals?
You’re constantly surrounded by people (not just team members, but customers too!) who care, listen, and proactively offer feedback on ideas and deliverables. It’s easy to get creative, iterate, and see the impact you’re making for developers in real-time. You’ll be surprised by how much you can grow and accomplish, even within a short amount of time.
We’re small and scrappy, love experimentation and trying new things, and backed by our financial strength. So if you want to go through the journey of taking something built from scratch from 0 to 100, and are interested in developer tools and the cloud, you’ll be excited about what we have in store. There’ll be a lot of learning down the road, opportunities for you to own and develop new processes, teams, and shape Aptible into what we’ll become in the next five or ten years.
Given our small team size, everything we work on will be high impact and high leverage. Thriving at Aptible means you’ll have plenty of room to shine and be recognized, and build stories toward your reputation as a leader in your role.
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