Update: This post was updated in August of 2022 to more accurately reflect the changes our business has undergone as we grow and adapt. Fundamentally our mission, vision, values, and spirit have remained while some practicalities have changed.
While our vision is to see ML and AI democratized, our mission is to be a network of well-paid, technically skilled, personally fulfilled, and excellent professionals in the areas of Data Science and Data Engineering.
Contrary to most missions, this one is entirely inward facing and human focused. As of this writing, there is still a significant work-life imbalance prevalent in work cultures throughout the world. Part of this issue is the commonly held view that good pay, interesting work, and healthy amounts of free time are mutually exclusive. We believe that the importance of the human experience is significant enough to challenge this by building a company that does not compromise on any of these points. We're definitely not the first to take this type of approach but it is probably not nearly as common as it should be.
The motivation for this inward facing mission comes from the founders' desire to try something different from the silicon valley-style VC backed startups that they've founded and worked with in the past. We don't want to construct some sort of "family" because, well, this is business. Our view is that your work life should empower you to live the lifestyle that you want, not dictate what that lifestyle should be in any way whatsoever. That being said, the DareData network members have all become friends through working on projects together. But that was something that arose naturally rather than being part of some top-down strategy.
What are the practical implications?
All this theory and feel-good mission talk is very nice but what does it actually look like day-to-day? Let's go through the biggest distinctions.
We have no employees
Our "network members" as we call them are all independent entities that are treated as their own business. We don't require people to work a certain number of hours. We do our best not to require people to be working at certain times. We don't have exclusivity clauses in our contracts. When we land a new client or project, we ask who is available to work on it and assemble the team that way. In effect, we are a loose network of professionals that are expected to deliver a high level of quality because we work under the DareData brand. Anyone is free to come and go as they please. If you like one of our clients and want to work for them, go for it! If we did something like try to stop you from working where you wanted to work it would be in direct violation of our mission.
All of this flexibility is not without difficulties. Having no structural guarantee of consistency in our network brings its own set of problems that are obvious. However, it keeps us honest and focused on our mission. If we provide an unusually good place to work, people will stay. If we don't, they will leave and it is an indication that we should fix something.
We are remote
Not much to say here. Being remote means that you work when and from where suits your lifestyle the best. So yeah, that's pretty much it.
We practice transparency
Everybody knows how much money everybody is making. When we negotiate a rate with a client, we tell our network every single detail about it. We tell them how much DareData is charging, we tell them how much of a margin we need and why, and we make an offer based upon that. Then the offer is negotiated without any piece of information being withheld. Ask any question about our financials and you'll get an answer. More generally, we commit to answering any question that is not covered by some kind of contract or NDA that is held with a client.
With this kind of honesty and transparency, the nagging feeling that many employees get (and many executives have forgotten how to feel) of "I'm not being treated fairly" is gone. Sure that lowers our margins and makes a few other things more difficult, but being aligned with everyone generates a much more robust structure and culture.
Responsibility is with the leadership
There are (currently) three partners at DareData. Ultimate responsibility for every single project is directly assigned to one of the three partners. Any mistake that makes its way to the client can only be ultimately attributed to the partner assigned to the project. It is the partner's responsibility to ensure that the right people are in the right place, that the right processes are in place, that the right QA / training is available, and anything else that guards against a single point of failure. There is no well-formed process in which a single network member making a single mistake should appear to a client. If this does happen it is a breakdown in the working structure, not an individual's fault. And it is the partner's responsibility to define the working structure.
This is not to say that if someone consistently makes mistakes, it won't be addressed. It will be addressed in a way that promotes personal growth which is beneficial to everyone. It will not be addressed in a way that focuses on blame.
What are the downsides?
All of the flexibility and transparency comes with a cost to the network member in the form of overhead and lack of stability. We don't offer full time contracts. Instead, we typically try to pay between 2-3 times the market rate for your skills so for every month you're working, you should be able to make enough money to live for two months. Or you can spend it all on partying. It's up to you. The thing is that it is on you, not us to ensure your financial stability. Rather than try to keep a portion our margin in an employee salary-related rainy day fund, we just pass it directly to you. Immediately.
All of this means that our network members must do their own accounting and invoicing which, depending on where you live, can be quite a pain. If you work with us, be sure to budget some time for that, especially if you've never done it before.
The bottom line is that when business is good for us, it is good for you too. When business is bad for us, it's bad for you too. We share the bounty in the good times, and we share the pain in the bad times.
What it looks like to join
If you are interested in joining us it is very easy. There is no extended contract negotiation, onboarding, and other paperwork. There are two quick informal interviews, a technical assessment, and a declaration of interest. Then when a project that is a good fit becomes available, we will negotiate rates and conditions as described above. Then as long as you're happy with the projects, we repeat. It is not uncommon for network members to be working on multiple contracts at a time. Our contract lengths can range from 3 months to a year depending on your priorities and preferences.
Get in touch
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about employment opportunities. We are always open to bringing on talented people of any experience level.