Cocoon February Update

It’s been our busiest month so far! Get comfortable, grab a glass of red and prepare yourself for our Feb update!

Cocoon raises seed funding!

Cocoon has secured a significant round of seed investment from Breed Reply, the Internet of Things (IoT) focussed corporate venture arm of Milan listed Reply Group (REY.MI). The funding will help us further expand our team and development efforts in the run up to our Dec 2015 shipment to early Indiegogo supporters.

As many of our early supporters are aware, we are saving all funds raised during our successful Indiegogo campaign for the material production of Cocoon. Activity outside of that has and will continue to be funded privately. The investment from our friends at Breed Reply is further proof of our commitment to our earliest supporters.

Development progress update

Acoustic tuning: The internal structure of Cocoon influences the sound quality and volume produced by our speaker. We’ve been busy testing a number of different internal drivers and have been testing different internal designs to achieve the greatest sound output for the siren.
Cocoon internal diagram
Material challenges: As well as looking good, Cocoon’s front cover allows light (visible & infrared) and body heat through to the camera/PIR for recording and motion detection during the day and night. There are no common plastics/polymers that fits the bill, so we are are currently prototyping a solution using several different materials.

Cable Entry: To improve the stability of the Cocoon device and to make the power cable more accessible we have created an opening in the rear of the base unit. This will allow the power cable to be securely positioned at the bottom of the device and to position Cocoon at the angle you prefer.
Cocoon bottom cable

Pitching with the Prime Minister

After being named as one of the UK’s “most exciting” digital start-ups we sent Sanjay to pitch Cocoon at No.10 Downing Street, home of the UK Prime Minister.

The Tech City Pitch10 event showcased ten of the best UK digital startups and we’re happy to say Sanjay didn’t forget a single word of his three minute pitch!

Growing team Cocoon

Since the beginning of the year our founding team have been busy bringing a team of people who love developing innovative products that delight real people.

We’re pleased to welcome six new members of the Cocoon team this month. Say hello to Mark, Kimberley, Rob, John, Paul, Will and Matt!

Cocoon team

Remember, if you have questions please get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.

– Team Cocoon

Team Building: Finding developers

Sanjay at Downing StreetFresh back from 10 Downing Street, Sanjay is speaking this week at We’re All Hackers Now at which Harvey Nash will announce results from their IT recruitment survey. Since our crowdfunding campaign we’ve welcomed seven new faces to our development team and have been trying to optimise our recruitment process to get an edge in a competitive talent market.

Why should anyone join your business?

You’re asking someone to spend much of their waking life devoted to your organisation for several years. Your pitch better be good!

When we made an offer to one person I could tell he was made up and I knew it wasn’t because of the salary and option package. Coming from a company where its the norm to read e-mail on holiday he can barely believe we insist our team don’t check e-mail when away. It’s things like this that can set a start-up company apart, big corporations will always win in a salary arms race.

Think of developer recruitment as you would think about defining your product and marketing strategy.  First understand needs and how you can fulfill them. Then consider how to reach your target market with your message.  Everyone is different but the needs you might consider in priority order are below.  The good news for start-ups is that job security doesn’t feature highly (developers know they can get another job easily) whilst innovation (oft associated with the start-up) is right at the top.

recruitment_top_reasons_for_moving_jobSource: Harvey Nash

I thought our fun, flexible working environment and innovative technology aligned well with many needs but we had improve our communication of it on our careers page.   We applied online marketing principles to our recruitment adverts adding a lead message and focusing first on what we can offer.  The goal of the advert is not to list your requirements.  As the start of the funnel the goal is the visitor spending more than a couple of seconds on the page!  Test your proposition on your current team then get Google Analytics coverage to see how you’re doing.

recruitment_advert_pitchOur job board pitch starts with an attempt to sell ourselves

Online marketing is a minor channel

We placed our roles on the big general and IT specific job boards through Recruitment Genius which seemed more time and cost efficient than listing separately on each. Though none of our current team found us this way, we found several candidates for future roles.  Considering the low cost we’ll continue to advertise through this channel.

More interesting to me was Stackoverflow careers which offers high granularity targeting of candidates in their community:

recruitment_stackoverflow

StackOverflow is implemented as a developer careers site should be, showcasing the team, technologies and benefits a company offers. Unfortunately our experience mirrors that of our friends at Shortlister in that applicants were mostly overseas without a UK visa and there is no way to automatically exclude them.  My impression is that the careers site is used by candidates actively searching job boards rather than the community on the main site. With few local candidates on their database and at £325 per listing I don’t think we’ll be using it again.

We drove some traffic through our Twitter and Facebook profiles. We didn’t take anyone on that found us this way but it seems like a no-brainer to continue to publicise roles through our social network pages.

social_network_careers_referals

We also experimented with Facebook adverts which in principal can be targeted by geography and to some degree skill set. The adverts we ran resulted in no applications but I wouldn’t say we exhaustively tested.

careers_facebook_adverts

I realise that I have touched only the tip of the iceberg with social recruiting. There are tools like TalentBin, Entelo, HiringSolved and Gild that use social media and community profiles to find passive candidates. Their cost and the time taken to use them has led me to conclude they are best left to external recruitment consultants.

Recruitment consultants have a role to play

The online marketing would be done by a good recruiter but running it in house delivers cost savings considering the low effort required.  Though we’ve not recruited anyone from it yet, it seems to be driving awareness of our proposition in the community and candidates for all types of position are starting to reach out to us proactively which bodes well for the future.

Developers I asked said they’d be more likely to engage directly with an employer so I do think its important to be proactive yourself but recruiters have access to networks and tools that enable them to reach passive candidates we can’t. We’ll continue to work with Leigh at pro-quest Resourcing to ensure we cover all angles.

The power of the network and legwork

Staff recruitment sources
Team Cocoon recruits by source

I worked my LinkedIn and offline network, asking for leads from everyone I know.  For two months “Do you know any good developers?” was tacked onto the end of every conversation I had. Online and offline community interest groups were attended by Cocoon delegations.

We tended to lead with why anyone would want to work for us rather than what we’re looking for now as over the long term, we’ll need lots of different skills.  So far, 6 out of 7 of our new colleagues were found through this type of activity. Clearly there’s a cost to our time but I just don’t think it can be outsourced. I’m confident we wouldn’t have reached or brought on board the team we have using outsourced recruiters alone.

Hopefully the network and legwork approach can go viral throughout our team to scale the approach as we grow.  The early signs of that are already present with one colleague being referred by a recent new team member.

The next recruitment hacking sprint for us

An applicant tracking system needs to take over from my e-mail folders to ensure we can find details of people proactively contacting us now as roles come up in the future.  Such a system could also streamline communication internally during the interview and review process.

We’d like to host some community interest groups in the event space we have at our new HQ (photos coming soon).  We want to do that for fun and to expand our horizons anyway but I expect it’ll bring us into contact with more Cocoon team members to be.

The coding project we ask some candidates to complete needs some development to ensure its result can overcome the uncertainty we’ve sometimes had after looking at code applicants have shared with us or published.

In conclusion

Remember that you’re only half way through the process when an offer is accepted. Its important to be proactive in ensuring new colleagues feel at home and integrate into your organisation. Great people can walk back into their old job if they don’t like their first weeks and its in everyones interest to do what you can to get them working at their best.

I’m tiring of hearing “hardware is hard” but I can now at least respond with “recruiting software developers is hard”.  I’m turning my attention to recruitment of our QA team now. Hopefully with what we’ve learned that’ll prove easier!

Seed funding announcement: Cocoon is Best in Breed

Cocoon has secured a significant round of seed investment from Breed Reply, the Internet of Things (IoT) focussed corporate venture arm of Milan listed Reply Group (REY.MI). The funding will help us further expand our team and development efforts in the run up to our April 2016 shipment to Indiegogo supporters.

Cocoon team

Our investment partner brings with them a range of capabilities to help us overcome the challenges of bringing an innovative device like Cocoon to market. Their backing of Cocoon is a sign of how attractive our new take on home security is.

As many of our early supporters are aware, we are saving all funds raised during our successful Indiegogo campaign for the material production of Cocoon. Activity outside of that has and will continue to be funded separately. Our taking investment from our friends at Breed Reply is further proof of our commitment to our earliest supporters.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to welcome on board some fantastic new additions to our team in Leeds, UK. Mark, Kimberley, John, Rob and Will join the Cocoon founding team at our new HQ – more of that to come in a future update!

Cocoon Team in Leeds

Thanks,
Team Cocoon.