Tour the Office of One of Sydney's Fastest-Growing Startups
Entrepreneur Fred Schebesta founded comparison shopping site finder.com.au in 2006. Now, nearly a decade later, the 34-year-old is one of Australia's youngest self-made millionaire. (So clearly, things have worked out.) His company Finder has since expanded in the U.S., and clocks in more than one million visits to the site each month, and continues to grow internationally—and hire—like crazy with offices cities like Sydney, Los Angeles, as well as in Manila and Poland.
We stepped inside the rapidly growing publisher to photograph their relaxed, collaborative office, and speak with product manager Natalie Cox, to find out what life's like for millennials working at the Australian startup. Because with the rate Finder's hiring at the moment, who knows, she might even end up being your colleague—or boss—some day.
What does the Finder office look like?
Right now it's very packed, we're growing faster than we can knock down walls and acquire more office space. The interesting features in the office include two massive images of Captain America and Iron Man made from post-it notes on the wall (courtesy of a Hack Day), some wall decals including one of a rocket-ship, a long lunch table with a very colourful combination of chairs, a few office plants, and there are TV screens showing live data such as how many visitors are currently on the site and the most popular content.
How many staff members are in your team?
At the moment we have four product managers based in the Sydney Office, a UX designer, and the head of product management who's based in LA launching finder.com. There'll also be a U.S. product manager joining the LA office in a few weeks. When I started there were just two of us so it's been amazing to see the PM team and the office grow so much in just over a year.
Is the company hierarchical or flat? What’s the dynamic between you and your manager?
I wouldn't say it's a completely flat structure and I'm not sure any company truly can be, but there definitely aren't layers of management to go through to get projects done. We're able to move fairly quickly. My manager and I have a very supportive dynamic. She always gives honest and constructive feedback which is great for my development as a PM. We also have weekly one-on-one meetings which are an opportunity to go through current projects as well as ask any questions, and she's often available through Slack to answer anything that comes up in between those meetings.
What do you wear to work?
There is no set dress code in the office, everyone is free to wear whatever makes them feel most comfortable. I'd say my outfits are typically smart-casual; usually jeans and a nice top, or a dress or skirt.
Have you been promoted or considered for promotion in your role yet? Does the company promote internally or hire externally for new positions?
I've shifted roles within the PM function of the company. When I started I was doing a kind of cross between product management and helping PR with briefing in creative content. As the team grew we shifted into more vertically-focused roles and I took on responsibility for the Shopping, Tech and Telco niches, and helped launch our Mobile Plans Comparison. Just recently I've dropped down my hours to focus on completing my degree, so I'm assisting with the launching of new niches as well working on some very exciting projects.
How would you describe the culture within your team?
It's really great. Everyone is always open to help out with any questions, provide feedback, sanity-check ideas, and they're usually down for a drink or two on a Friday evening. W
What are some of the biggest perks about joining the Finder team?
In terms of physical perks, hands-down the incredible free lunches. You can check out (or drool over) some photos of the lunches on our internal Instagram. That Instagram was actually started by one of the developers during one of our bimonthly Hack Days, which is another great perk! But one of the biggest, and I believe most important perks is definitely the team I get to work with.
How long have you been working for Finder?
Since March 2015, so one year and three months now.
What was the application process like when you first started?
I think I had a very different experience to most when it come to being hired, as I didn't actually apply for a particular role. I met [the founder] at a university entrepreneurship competition where he was a mentor. A few months after the competition he invited me in for a trial, and three weeks later I signed a contract and started working. At the time he contacted me I was working in a small accounting firm and not enjoying it at all, so the timing was really perfect. As we've grown, the application process has become far more rigorous. I believe it's now a three-stage interview process that's usually accompanied by a test depending on which team you're joining, such as a coding, writing or design test.
How else has the company changed since you started?
Wow, a lot. When I started I think there were maybe 40 people working in Sydney, now we have more than 70. Since then we've celebrated hitting more than one million website visits per month, knocked down a wall to expand the office, established offices in Manila, Wroclaw and LA, and tripled the size of the product management team. It's been amazing to be involved in a time of such massive growth.
What are the responsibilities for a product manager at Finder?
A core responsibility as a product manager is to make sure we're building products that solve customer needs. That means conducting necessary research to define the product strategy, setting the goals and priorities, ruthlessly prioritising, creating and updating the product roadmap, and communicating across a variety of teams and to executives. We have a weekly meeting with the executive team to update on current product development and future plans.
What does an average work day look like for you?
The product manager role at finder is very autonomous, I have a lot of control over what tasks I do that I think will have the highest impact. First up when I come into the office I check and respond to any emails or Slack messages. Then I'll dive into the highest priority task for that day which differs depending on the current project and stage it's at. It may be wire-framing, researching competitors, speaking to stakeholders, updating documents or compiling analytics data. There'll of course be a coffee run (or two) during the day.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I'd love to be living and working overseas or in another Australian city, which has been a goal of mine since I took a gap year after finishing high school. With finder globally expanding and now having offices now in Manila, Poland and LA, it's becoming more of reality that this is something I could potentially do while still working at Finder.
What kind of characteristics do you think millennials need to have to thrive in your field?
A get-it-done attitude.