Engineering Spotlight: Chewy
Chewy is an eCommerce pet specialty retailer which is dominating their industry.
The company recently made headlines as it has been acquired by PetSmart for $3.35 billion, in what is the largest eCommerce acquisition to date. Boston's Volition Capital, a growth equity firm, was one of the company's earliest investors.
Chewy's headquarters are based in Florida, but the company recently opened a Boston office to tap into the local tech and eCommerce talent. The plan is to grow the Boston team to over 200 employees over the course of this year.
VentureFizz had the chance to connect with Chewy’s co-founder and CTO, Michael “Blake” Day about the company’s engineering team and culture.
Chewy is hiring aggressively in Boston, so make sure you visit their BIZZpage for all of their openings.
Quick Hit Details
Year Founded: 2011
Number of employees: 5000+
Number of engineers: 50
Technical Stack: Java and related technologies
Can you share the details on what Chewy does?
Chewy is an online retailer of pet food, supplies and products. We have superior 24/7/365 customer service, competitive pricing and selection on more than 500 brands, easy-to-navigate shopping experience and 1-2 day shipping. In short, we offer top-notch service to our customers and are truly passionate about our work and, of course, pets!
Chewy is new to the Boston tech scene. Can you share the details on why you are building an office here and the details for hiring within the engineering organization?
Our goal is to attract the best and brightest in engineering and technology and Boston is a key area for competitive candidates in those fields. The city is a major hub for tech innovation and has a tremendous amount of diverse engineering talent concentrated in the area. This includes every skill level, from new college graduates to experienced senior executives. Through the end of 2017, we plan to grow to 200+ team members, with future scale in mind beyond this year.
What are some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with and at what scale?
Due to our explosive growth, we’ve had to quickly adapt and seamlessly expand our technology networks and build to scale. Our engineers are tasked with searching for the most efficient solutions possible, which often means being innovative and considering all technologies available.
What are some of the interesting projects that the engineering team is tackling?
We are building a complete eCommerce experience from ground up at huge scale right away. Solve for best service and fast delivery for our customers using the latest technologies available, tooling and automation to enable engineering growth from a few scrum teams to dozens of autonomous teams, implementation of numerous APIs, make Search best on the market, best in class UI on the web and mobile with latest technologies available. For all systems, continuously review and test latest technologies available to ensure we are on the best possible technology stack that enables us to meet our goal of the best possible experience for our customers.
Can you describe the type of background or experience that you generally look for when hiring for the engineering team?
We hire smart people who are team players. We have a seriously fast-paced work environment, which requires tremendous focus, urgency, and execution over ideation. This means people we hire must be able to naturally prioritize well and have a sense of urgency around everything they do.
A successful engineer at Chewy is solution-driven, mentally agile, thrives in a rapid-paced environment and embraces a ‘fail fast’ mentality. And, of course, someone who loves to write code!
What can someone expect during the interview process?
Because of our speed and rate of growth, we align our interview process to ensure candidates fully understand our level of expectations and what it takes to win here.
We have a two-part process which first involves a potential candidate talking to multiple team members by phone before an invitation is extended for an in-person interview. At the second stage, the candidate will meet one-on-one with the entire team, so we can delve into their background, skill set and abilities to determine if they are a good match.
How would you best describe the culture and working environment for the engineering team at Chewy?
We are obsessed with our customers. Engineers will do any and everything to ensure Chewy pet parents get the best service and value. We are also extremely competitive and results-driven in our work – we want to build the most efficient eCommerce systems and and create innovative solutions that better serve our customers.
What does your team do for fun outside of work? Are they involved in any local tech organizations?
Chewy feels like family and we frequently socialize together after work at both tech and non-tech events. Naturally, there is a lot of support for pets and animals. Many of us are involved in animal-related charities and organizations.
We encourage our engineers to get involved in technology events outside of their immediate jobs. In addition, we host social events where engineers from other companies can connect with our team to network, build relationships, learn from each other and have fun outside of the office.
Are there any other random fun facts about your employees that you’d like to share?
Jon Rourke is a competitive kickboxer.
David Pavao owns/operates a hotdog cart.
Samantha Rassner was trained by Ferrari to drive their LeMans race cars and has top secret gov’t clearance.
Nick Rassi is competitive go-kart racer (and won our IT tournament).
Lindsey Interlandi is a shipwreck diver.
Stephen Daws took a year off to travel the country in an RV.
Peter Buckley is a blacksmith.
Rapid Fire Q&A
What’s on tap?
Rotating local microbrew
Star Wars or Star Trek?
iPhone or Android?
Cats or dogs?
Coffee - hot or iced?
Favorite employee perk?
Pets in the office.
What TV show describes the engineering team’s culture?
The Super Bowl
Cleanest desk / Messiest desk
Images courtesy of Chewy.