Lift is working to push the boundaries of human potential. We’re a seven person startup based in San Francisco. Our first product is an iPhone app and we’re beta testing a web version of Lift. We’re hiring and if you’re interested in working with us, you can let us know through this form.
Of course, how would you know if you even want to work here? As you can imagine at this small of a company, not everything is set in stone, but I’ll do my best to give you a feel for working at Lift.
We currently have two roles that we’re actively trying to fill.
Product Designer. See the design section below and read this extensive post. We want to pioneer what’s possible in terms of positive feedback loops on the iPhone.
Web Engineer. We back our iPhone app with a set of APIs backed by Rails, MySQL, and Redis. Plus we do a lot of feature work that is web based.
The stereotypical startup has people playing the roles of engineer, designer, and promoter. On our team we have Matt and Matt typing the iOS codes, Alicia typing the backend codes, Jon manipulating the clouds, Tony (me) scribbling on white boards (with some excellent help translating that to pixels), Erin chatting out the positive vibes and Amanda keeping everything running and handling support. I’m also not mentioning some excellent people who are working for us on a contract or advisory basis.
In practice it’s not that rigid. Everyone has a say in product and in building the product.
We’re all driven by the idea that we can make a giant impact on human potential by supporting the pursuit of excellence. I’m going to go bold for a bit before coming back to the pragmatic.
We want to eliminate willpower as a factor in achieving goals. Imagine smooth, optimized, self-reinforcing paths for every aspiration. That would qualify as a giant impact on human potential.
We’ll get there. Eventually. Step one is to make feedback loops generally available. We’ve already seen in our beta testing that this alone is wildly effective. We’ll spend the rest of our lives polishing those loops so that they are ubiquitous, optimized, and fully integrated.
We value incremental changes paired with feedback loops, but we’re not split testing our way to success. Jon explains it best as, “strong intuition informed by immediate information.”
Let me give you an example of the life cycle of one of our major features.
We’d talked about providing data visualizations for people’s progress but hadn’t ever nailed down a design. One of us built a prototype that was initially just a daily email to our beta testers. Email was the simplest possible implementation for this feature and it let us spend a couple of weeks experimenting and figuring out what felt right to him.
As the emails got stronger, we started getting suggestions from the team and users. We also started getting really specific feedback. Some of the visualizations were great. Some of them weren’t.
Soon after, we decided that we had to move this feature up on our official roadmap. We did a more complete survey of existing users, met as a group, spec’d out the changes to our app, and put it through an more formal visual design pass.
I’m not saying we have some magic process or secret formula, just that we’re reasonable, we like to get feedback, and we like to stick with a feature long enough to bring it up to a high level. Along the way some ideas get thrown out and others get thoroughly revised.
We’re Lean and Agile influenced. Everyone has at least one copy of The Lean Startup. We use Pivotal Tracker and project future milestones based on velocity (our velocity currently says we’ll launch in August). We track retention as a primary metric and often turn to activity logs to resolve design questions. We do continuous deployment and every code commit automatically triggers a new build and release of both our web and our iOS applications.
We use a kanban board to watch over the product roadmap at a high level. The board has a column for validation and we often send features back through for a second pass just because we think we can make them even stronger.
I would temper this process discussion by saying that over time we’ve gotten much more pragmatic about the analytic side of Lean. We don’t always have all the information we want, but we do have a lot of people with hard earned product experience. In these cases we’ve gotten better pairing anecdotes and small signals with our own experience and intuition.
At the beginning of Lift, we were fortunate to get a guided tour of IDEO by David Kelley (the founder). What stood out to us was how much revision goes into great design. In between revisions, IDEO gets tons of feedback. That fits our philosophy exactly.
Our design aim for launch is clean, simple, and clear. But that’s not our end game. There’s a physical and visceral component to the iPhone experience that fits perfectly into our goal to build a ubiquitous positive feedback loop. More than any other app, we benefit from advances in this area and our intention is to push the edge of the emotional nature of iPhone design.
Our technology stack is Objective-C for the iPhone app (obviously) and Rails, MySQL, and Redis for the backend. Rails should be the clue that we’re pragmatic about technology choices. Jon and I have a ton of experience with this stack, think it’s great for prototyping, and understand the growth curve for how the Rails conveniences fall away as you scale.
We host our services on Heroku and Amazon (including RDS). We also use MessageBus, New Relic, and Pingdom. Cloud infrastructure is one of Jon’s specialties (he built the cloud infrastructure at EngineYard and Path).
Going forward we think our biggest challenges are in the data (we have per-user, per-habit activity feeds that get optimized based on per-habit activity levels) and in making the iPhone app incredibly responsive.
Everyone here uses a Mac laptop for daily computing along with a monitor of their choice (default is 27” Apple). Nobody is religious about text editors, although I personally get excited about people who use Vim.
Who we look for
We’re interested in working with talented, passionate, thoughtful individuals. We’ll often work with talented people on contract, but for employees, it’s also a requirement that you care about our mission.
We have a high regard for people who can bring diverse experiences, insights, and interests. Our goal is to create a culture that is accepting, thoughtful, and allows for both respectful debate and resolution. Diversity is an explicit goal in our hiring practices (more on our diversity goals here).
It should go without saying that we have a soft spot for people who are ambitious about their own improvement.
This turned into a long post. Maybe that means the ideal teammate likes to read. If you’re still interested, please get in touch.