When disaster strikes a company — whether it’s a hurricane, earthquake or forest fire — people’s safety becomes the number one concern. That’s especially true for companies whose employees face potential threats while working in the field or traveling.
AlertMedia mitigates safety threats by enabling organizations to communicate clearly and efficiently with their employees throughout the duration of a disaster. To learn how they pull this off, we spoke with a few team members about the company’s collaborative culture and drive to keep people safe.
EMPLOYEES: 75 local
WHAT THEY DO: AlertMedia helps some of the world’s largest organizations securely and effectively monitor threats, streamline notifications and improve employee safety during critical events such as natural disasters and inclement weather.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Austin
NOTABLE PERKS: Stock options for all full-time employees, fully paid employee health benefits and a company-wide annual bonus based on collective success.
NOTABLE CLIENTS: H-E-B, BP and Kawasaki
Matt Miller, Software Developer
Matt ensures the AlertMedia team follows good architectural practices and writes clear, easy-to-maintain code. He also mentors developers as they work through features and bugs.
BEYOND WORK: Matt unplugs by biking and lifting weights.
How have things changed since you joined the company in 2013?
I was the first software developer, so there wasn’t any code written when I joined. The idea for what AlertMedia would become was still in our CEO’s head. It was a huge risk to join, but I believed in Brian and our mission.
I celebrated my five-year anniversary last month, and I’m proud to say that today we have a robust software platform and an amazing team of talented people rapidly improving every aspect of our software. We’re now the fastest-growing company in our space, and we have reinvented our industry.
What’s the biggest technical challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
In 2015, we launched a new initiative: a real-time monitoring system that needed to be able to monitor tens of thousands of lone workers in dangerous situations simultaneously while enabling complex, custom responses to the different scenarios users might experience.
We were able to go from whiteboard design of the system to initial testing very quickly, but the first test sequence was not encouraging: We only managed about 40 simultaneous users before the system started to show strain. We took a step back and built up an automated test tool that allowed us to test a set of scenarios and ramp up to tens of thousands of simultaneous sessions.
Creating this testing tool made a huge difference, and, combined with detailed logging, it enabled us to rapidly find and fix the architectural bottlenecks. Within three weeks, we had a highly tuned system that was scalable beyond our needs.
In 20 years as a software engineer, I’ve never worked with a better team.”
How does AlertMedia’s overall culture impact the engineering team?
Our team collaborates quite a bit with other departments. For example, we work with customer success to solicit feedback and understand how our customers are using our software every day, so we can anticipate their future needs. That collaboration and openness translates into everyone on the team being involved in the overall architecture and design of the product.
Almost everyone is a full-stack developer, meaning they get to work on different aspects of the product based on our current needs. We’re very passionate about writing great code, ensuring other departments have the tools they need to succeed and keeping our customers happy and successful. In 20 years as a software engineer, I’ve never worked with a better team.
Alex Vaccaro, VP of Marketing
Alex leads a team that generates demand for AlertMedia’s product and services.
BEYOND WORK: Alex loves animals, especially her five-year-old boxer and her five chickens, who are each named after her friends.
Describe your leadership style.
I try hard to lead by example. There is no task that I’m not willing to jump in and help with if needed. I also work to foster a collaborative environment, which reflects the company culture as a whole, and is pretty critical to a marketing team. The team spends a lot of time learning from each other, brainstorming new ideas and having fun.
What type of access does your team have to senior leadership?
It’s common to look over at our CEO Brian’s or CRO Brett’s desks and see a line of people waiting to get support with a deal they are working on, feedback on an idea they have or help with a customer they are supporting.
From the very beginning of an employee’s time here, Brian makes it a point to communicate that he is completely accessible to them. He personally presents the history of AlertMedia to all new hire classes, so they get to know him, hear why he founded the company and learn about his vision for the future.
I can’t overstate how refreshing it is to work with people I genuinely enjoy being around.”
When you look at your to-do list, what motivates you to come in each day?
Everything. We find new use cases for our product every day, we’re continuing to add new features and product lines, and we still have several untapped markets. A market opportunity like this is rare, and it motivates me each day.
I also can’t believe how lucky I am to work for a company with a great product, a happy customer base and nice employees. I can’t overstate how refreshing it is to work with people I genuinely enjoy being around and who are just plain nice.
Angie Julius, Account Executive
Angie demonstrates to companies how AlertMedia can help them better communicate during critical events.
BEYOND WORK: Angie runs half and full marathons. She also loves spending time with her dogs.
What is unique about selling at your company?
I’m lucky because our product nearly sells itself. So many sales jobs force you to sell things that people don’t need, or products where you feel the need to put on a façade of value. Our developers are extremely talented, and they’ve built a product that is so easy to use that people are shocked when they see it. And not only is it intuitive, but its functionality is impeccable.
I love sharing our software with people, because they’re always impressed. A lot of our customers come to us from other vendors and have this idea that an emergency communication platform will be this huge headache of a project. Then I get to show them how easy it can be.
I love sharing our software with people, because they’re always impressed.”
Can you share a specific sale that was meaningful?
A customer I signed up recently had a lot of anxiety because Hurricane Florence was headed their way. They are a major automobile manufacturer and have a plant in the Carolinas. Their IT director visited our website and live chatted with someone in marketing in the morning, and was transferred to me for a demo immediately. We had them up and running that day. Knowing that our system was able to help them communicate during a potentially devastating event is very powerful.
What’s a fun perk you didn’t expect?
One of my favorite perks is Tuesday lunches. Our CEO has been holding Tuesday lunches since the company only had two people, and he’s kept that tradition alive. Not only do we get a lovely catered lunch from a local restaurant, but we all gather together as a company and get updates, trainings, pep talks, customer testimonials, etc. This week, our developers taught an intro to coding session, which was really fun and definitely made us appreciate their talent even more.