With backgrounds working at some of the world's biggest organisations, including McKinsey, ING, Accenture and Nasa, two of the three co-founders of cloud point-of-sale (POS) firm Nobly POS understand what makes a great team and culture.
“I’ve seen consistently at McKinsey across all their offices, how their international DNA and strong culture [gives] consistency across different sites,” says CEO George Urdea.
He and co-founder Sebastiaan Bruinsma also believe that a combination of the right ability and environment is the key to staying ahead of the field, especially in an environment as fast paced as tech. “I’ve seen [McKinsey’s] San Francisco, New York and London offices, and it was an ‘a-ha!’ moment for me to figure out that if you have strong talent and culture, you can consistently outperform competitors across all markets,” says Mr Urdea.
The right stuff
Given their experience of large multinational corporations, Nobly POS’s co-founders made it their mission to hire exceptional talent across their different business operations through a rigorous recruitment process.
“With our head of people, we put together a recruitment process that is very thorough. We do a multi-stage interview, try to really break down somebody’s career and understand what they are exceptional, and not good, at. Then for each role we put together scorecards of the expectations of that role over the next three, six and 12 months. [This involves] exactly what we want in terms of value match for that candidate,” says Mr Urdea.
Furthermore, Nobly POS actively celebrates the companies that former employees move to – an approach also seen at McKinsey – as a means to build the profile of their brand. “While we will try to keep them challenged so they don’t go, we are reinforcing that it is OK to go and do something else,” says Mr Urdea.
The time and resources invested in the recruitment process have enabled Nobly POS to attract the right talent and achieve its global ambition, as the London-headquartered company now has paying customers in about 25 countries and boasts 70 employees in offices around the world, in Melbourne (Australia), Montevideo (Uruguay) and Austin (US). Its customer base is in the quick-service restaurant (or fast-food) sector.
After a thorough data analysis of locations, Nobly POS decided to build its technical team in Montevideo, due to the city's highly skilled but relatively little-known tech talent pool. For Romania-born Mr Urdea, who has a strong network in Bucharest, a city lauded for its strong tech talent pool, this might have been seen as a counterintuitive choice. However, he says: “We wanted to open a US office. Uruguay is [in] a better time zone and we would get help from the government to set up there. The talent and technical universities they have are exceptional, and in Montevideo we have the chance to aim to be the top tech employer in the whole country, whereas in Romania we [would] compete with Amazon, Google, Microsoft and many others.”
Locations in different time zones have enabled Nobly POS to run a 24-hour service for its independent SME clients. “We use [the 'objectives and key results' system] objective and key results, and do a lot of remote work, meaning everyone is on the same page regardless of where they are and what time zone [they are in]. We provide the opportunities for talent that wants to travel, be more mobile and experience more cultures, but importantly we do that in a company that is not siloed,” says Mr Urdea.
As the competition for employees and customers in the tech space persists, Nobly POS’s global presence as a relatively small company proves finding a niche, being rigorous in recruitment, and selecting locations away from the tech hubs to find a top-flight workforce appears to be a strategy for success.