Andy Hilliard spoke with Austin-based Hema Ramaswamy SVP, Engineering of Tracer. This globally distributed team-building initiative is Hema’s #1 priority and she and her engineering managers will be largely responsible for selecting and working with new partners.
Tracer is a data intelligence platform, working with leading global brands, partners, and agencies to provide a single source of truth across their data. Their goal is to empower our clients to make better decisions by aggregating cross-platform data and adding business context, to provide transparency into business performance and answer questions unique to their business. They are currently solving data challenges for some of the world's biggest brands, agencies, and publishers. Their target audience is Media Agencies and their CIOs.
Tracer was incubated within VaynerMedia and spun out in 2018 as its own company. They closed their seed funding round in June 2021 at nearly $10MM. They are an NYC-based company with around 60 employees with more than half in engineering and growing fast. Today they are an invite-only platform but that will soon change and open the floodgates for growth.
Throughout the pandemic, competition has ramped up in the cloud database and analytics market, as well as adtech more broadly. Tracer is among those competitors, a marketing data aggregation and reporting platform that has integrations with some of the biggest cloud service vendors including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, as well as social networks like Facebook and Snap.
Tracer works by pulling in and making sense of all types of data — everything from customer IDs to revenue figures — visualizing a company’s media spend across campaigns and platforms.
The software integrates with data visualization services like Salesforce-owned Tableau.
Tracer’s elements of data strategy:
Traditionally, the problem is that the engineering teams don’t have enough business context, and the business teams don't understand the necessary technology. We bridge the gap. Our team can speak both languages.
We work with our clients and their partners to ensure that there is a long-term process to collect and manage data. Without doing so, it's garbage in / garbage out, no matter how good your technology.
Product is what allows our process and people to scale. It's how one of our analysts can outproduce entire analytics teams. It’s how a trained pilot can fly so many planes.
A browser-based system to manipulate, report on, and analyze all of your data. The technology becomes your “plane”.
Tracer and Hema’s vision is to scale the company and build teams that will build products that Tracer is extremely proud of. The plan is to build both nearshore and offshore teams through multiple partners to leverage timezones and talent pools while mitigating vendor risk.
Hema wants to grow in a predictable manner. They have a great culture and focus on team and individual quality and she is keen to maintain that. The Tracer team is adamant about not growing the business before engineering is ready to be out ahead of forecasted growth.
Hema has good experience working with global engineering groups. Tracer does not, given their infancy.
Current State IT Capability and Capacity
Tracer is currently running (6) teams in platform engineering with 3 of those being feature teams. There is also an architecture and a data team.
Tracer’s tech stack and target partner tech focus are here: https://tracer.tech/open-position.html?gh_jid=4022265003. Basically, it is:
- Python / Pandas
- Django REST framework
- Heroku / AWS
- React / Redux
Working with a New Partner - Relationship Vision and Timing
Hema envisions each partner starting with 3-5 engineers and spending a few months proving themselves before the prospect of growing the team. Per Hema, this could grow to 10-15-20+ resources per partner over time with success.
She sees the Tracer engineering function at perhaps 75% onshore 25% offshore by year-end 2022 if things go to plan.
Initially, Tracer domestic would be building the “nuts and bolts” of the platform while the global teams add integrations and such.
Outsourced Team member and Partner characteristics
Hema expects partners and team members to have “strong opinions, loosely held”, meaning she wants confident, capable team members who will make their expertise and opinions known while also getting quickly and easily onboard leadership direction for the collaborative good of the team. While these partners and resources won’t be working directly with Hema, she does prefer partners and team members who are thoughtfully direct and decision-making oriented.
Desired Partner Characteristics
Do you have any preferences for the following items? If yes please explain why.
- One team of 3 to start and then growing to 5 a few months later and then scaling from there offshore: either Asia or Eastern Europe with some preference to Eastern Europe
- One team of 3 to start and then growing to 5 a few months later and then scaling from there nearshore Latin America
- Time Zone: Yes and No depending on partner location
- Partner size: It’s important that Tracer is not “a small fish in a large pond.” This relationship should have partner prioritization and visibility to ensure that Tracer is getting the attention and quality they are looking for.
- Budget: Andy socialized current pricing for the different regions given the attributes and benefits Hema and Tracer is looking for and Hema stated she was ok with these ranges. (Asia $30-50/hr, Eastern Europe 40-70/hr, LatAm 35-70/hr). FTE Forecast Worksheet (see below)
- Industry Experience: none required
- Other SME: are there other areas of expertise that you’d like the partner to bring?
- Certifications: none required
- English Fluency: Leads should definitely be fluent and supporting team members can be less so. This widens the talent pool, reduces costs and supporting people will receive direction from team leads.
Onboarding and Ramp-Up
Budget and Funding
Between seed funding by financially solid investors, growth in invitation mode, and imminent public introduction of the platform, Tracer is well-positioned to fund engineering and company growth.
Hema understands the trends in global pricing based on recent supply and demand drivers and she is relatively cost-conscious but cost-less-sensitive. Essentially, she wants quality talent that shares the same mentality and culture of Tracer. The model of onshore-offshore will result in a better cost-effective model but she won’t sacrifice quality.
Decision Making Process and Timing
Hema doesn’t foresee any impediments that would otherwise derail this initiative. As mentioned, this is her #1 priority currently. She is the primary decision maker and her recommendations will be approved and supported by Senior Management.
Accelerance has considered your objectives and partner selection criteria in the context of all members in the Accelerance Global Partner Network. Given your declared needs and objectives, Accelerance is delighted to introduce the below Certified Partners as our top aligned choices to work as a dedicated Partner.
These accomplished groups are excellent representatives of the 60+ Members of our Global Service Provider Network.
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