Andela, the global tech talent marketplace, has helped numerous companies scale up their teams with remote engineering talent on demand. In a recent interview with Makan Amini, CTO & Co-Founder of Meomind, he shared his experience working with Andela talent and why it was the best decision for his company. Meomind is the world’s first on-demand psychotherapy platform allowing employees and health plan members to listen in to recorded therapy sessions between therapists and clients 24×7. Before Andela, Meomind had a hard time finding reliable talent that integrated into their team quickly. Amini explains how Andela’s consistent talent quality, affordable cost, and reliability stood out from the competition. In this article, we highlight how Andela’s solution helped Meomind and could help other companies too.
We spoke to Makan Amini CTO and Co-Founder at Meomind.
Can you tell us more about Meomind? What type of customer problems do you solve and how do you help your customers?
Makan: Unfortunately, in the US and elsewhere, a lot of people who would benefit from talking to a therapist don’t have access to one. In some cases, it’s just that they don’t have the right insurance or coverage. In other cases, they’re on a waiting list to talk to a therapist. So here at Meomind, we provide what we think of as the next best thing to actually talking to a therapist, which is listening to pre-recorded therapy sessions that are relevant to what you’re going through. For example, if you’re struggling with social anxiety (which is something I have firsthand experience with), you can listen to others who are experiencing discomfort in large groups or giving presentations. You can learn that you’re not alone and follow along as the sessions progress, doing the homework and exercises.
How did you manage technical hiring before Andela?
It was very opportunistic. We went through our networks and looked through online portals to find talent. The problem is always finding reliable talent, especially in a world where everything is remote. Based on my previous experience with another company, I knew that Andela provides great opportunities for talent and consistent quality for clients working with that talent. So we reached out to Andela, and it was honestly one of the best decisions we made as a company to work with them.
How did you first hear about Andela?
Great question. So, I actually had an Andela backend engineer at Home Base, where I worked before, who told me about Andela and how it all worked. Then I got the opportunity to work with a couple of other Andela engineers, and I was blown away by how easy it was to work with people living nine hours ahead in a different timezone and thousands of miles away. Before Covid, that was not as normal as it is now, and it really made me think about the talent pool as truly global. It doesn’t matter where you are anymore, which I think is amazing. And Andela fits right into that.
Were you evaluating other platforms or staffing companies when you chose Andela?
Yes, we talked to a couple of other platforms and companies, including Toptal. We also interviewed a ton of people from Upwork, probably over 40 people. We had our channels with people we talked to as well. However, we never found the right fit until we found Opeyemi as our first engineer. It was like, “Wow! We wish we had done this earlier.” Opeyemi is still with us and is honestly one of the most talented front-end engineers I’ve ever worked with.
What made you choose Andela over the other companies you were already working with?
It was a combination of factors. Firstly, Andela has a consistently high bar for quality. When you hire someone from Andela, you know what to expect. Additionally, Andela has processes in place to ensure a good fit for both the client and the talent. So, if for some reason things don’t work out, there’s a team in place to support you and ensure success. This reliability and support were important factors in our decision to work with Andela, which is not always the case with other solutions.
What are the top three reasons that make Andela valuable, standing out from the competition?
Number one is that it is reliable for sure. You just know what to expect and the quality is consistent.
Number two, you actually work with someone who becomes a team member. It’s not at arm’s length. There’s no difference between people who are technically employees of us and people who are technically Andela contractors. They are as much team members and I love that they stay with us for months and years.
And the last thing that really stands out is the cost, and the pricing is startup-friendly. So I think that what we’re paying feels like a reasonable price for the talent we’re getting, but at the same time, it is something that we can afford. And it’s not always possible in other geographies, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, for example.
Would you say that Andela aligns with Meomind’s goals, values, or mission?
Yeah, 100%. I mean, one of our goals is borrowed from Homebase, which is “no day wasted,” moving with urgency. And anytime we’ve needed anything from Andela, things have moved really quickly. I’d love to give an example.
Two weeks ago, we noticed that internet connectivity in parts of Lagos, Nigeria had become less reliable than in the past, possibly due to the upcoming election and other situations on the ground. We reached out to the Andela team and asked if they could help us source Starlink satellite systems and subscriptions for our team in Lagos, which would have been difficult for us to administer from here. Within 24 hours, Andela had helped us get the ball rolling, and now we’re only a few weeks away from having very reliable internet. It’s just one of many examples of how great it has been working with Andela, their sense of urgency, and commitment to not wasting any time.
So shout out to Gustavo. It was very awesome to see. And I can also say Opeyemi and Tulu, who are the 2 engineers in Lagos. They were also very impressed. They were like, oh, yeah, I already got the email. We talked about this yesterday. They couldn’t believe how fast that whole process transpired. So yeah, shout out to Gustavo for that!
You know the impact that Andela has made, not just on your team or on Meomind, but also on your career. How has Andela helped improve your processes?
We’re a pretty small team and all of our engineers are from Andela. Despite that, we’ve been able to move very fast and build a lot of things that would have been really hard with our team size and timelines.
Let me give you an example. 23 days ago, we signed with a new vendor called Iterable to help us with push and email marketing. When they talked to us and we were signing, they told us that normally this takes at least a month, if not two, to get up and running. But I told them about our engineers Opiyemi and Tulu, and last Thursday, in just two weeks, we already had our first push campaigns sent. It was amazing to see how they came together to make it happen.
The impact on our product has been amazing – we’ve seen an increase in retention and engagement. And the fact that we were able to integrate with Iterable so quickly also opens up opportunities for us to get other trials done. Normally, this would not be possible in the same month that we’re doing a big integration.
How has Andela contributed to your personal success in your role?
First of all, it’s really great to work with engineers where communication is very easy, and you really feel like, even though you’re hours apart, you still pretty much have extremely effective communication and feel like you’re sitting in the same room. So that has been great, and just being able to problem-solve things together that I alone would not have been able to figure out. We have a lot of problem-solving going on in our meetings, and then outside of that, just being able to feel like someone is on it, and someone has ownership of, let’s say, the backend being up and running, the frontend crashes being below the threshold that we feel is acceptable, that just frees up time for me as a product person to start thinking about what is around the corner, as opposed to having to just focus on what we’re doing right now. Because what we’re doing right now, you know, I feel really good about the team we have and getting that done.
How has Andela helped you stay competitive, perhaps, in your industry or within the market that you’re working in?
The flexibility that Andela provides has been instrumental in helping us stay competitive. For instance, in times when we’ve had to scale up quickly and find another engineer who fits our budget and roadmap, it’s always been a matter of weeks, at most, to get someone up and running. To give an example, with our most recent hire, Tulu, we started the discussions only 10 days before he was due to start, and he was already up and running, looking at our existing code. This flexibility allows us to react quickly to whatever is happening in the market, which is crucial for staying competitive.
How do you measure what success looks like with Andela? Whether that’s talent or with how you work with Andela as a vendor?
Ultimately, on the product side, our success metrics are tied to retention, engagement, and how helpful we are to our users. But if we take a step back from that, success is measured by throughput and the quality of what we’re shipping. Our experience with Andela so far has been stellar in terms of quality and velocity. However, if we notice a decline in those areas, we can reach out to Andela for support. They can send someone to problem solve with us and the talent, and identify changes we can make to improve the situation. If we need to take further action, Andela’s broad talent network means we have other options to address those challenges.
Do you have any statistics you can share in terms of how we’ve helped support you or your team’s KPIs?
We, at the moment the part of the company that I’m talking about is basically front-end client for ios and for android a whole back end system with complex logic when it comes to the content that the users see the data that we’re sending to companies like Iterable, and then, of course, reliable services. All of this is handled by 2 people from Andela, one in the back end, one in the front end, and I think, in terms of KPIs you would look at just the sheer amount of features and volumes and users, and you would not think that 2 people would be able to handle all of that and I don’t know what number that translates into. But I’m pretty sure whatever number that translates into it’s, it’s an outlier in the industry.
Which parts of Andela have you found the most valuable?
The parts I interact with the most are around finding talent. So far, we haven’t had any challenges working with the talent. I haven’t had that experience yet. The procurement team on-site has been extremely helpful. All parts have been really helpful. Andela feels like you all know each other, so it’s not like handing off to a completely different department. I feel like I’m talking to the same team, and everyone has their own expertise. Things happen, and everyone is in coordination. That makes the whole experience great.
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