Cavai, founded in 2018, builds conversational advertising tools with a focus on protecting consumers’ privacy. Their approach seems to be gaining traction, at least judging by their client list, which includes global heavyweights like McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz, and HBO. Last year they announced new hires to key senior positions and significant growth plans, accompanied by a funding round.
Cavai’s Chief Technology Officer is Mikko Kotila, a self-described “mad scientist”, who offered us a captivating look into the philosophy behind Cavai’s company culture. Find out what challenges can working in the ad-tech offer to developers, why the best thing a manager can do is to get out of the way of great talent, and what they are looking for in new hires.
Although some of the world’s most valuable brands use your product for advertising campaigns, regular people seldom hear about Cavai itself. How would you describe Cavai’s product to a non-marketing audience?
Cavai has created the first mainstream advertising technology platform that is built “people first.” Unlike thousands of other ad platforms, we never collect or do anything with people’s data. At Cavai, we build everything following strict privacy-by-design principles. I think that is something many people will be able to relate to. We have an undying commitment to making advertising better, and it starts with the fact that it can’t be dependent on exploiting people’s data.
On MeetFrank, you advertise Cavai’s positions with an ambitious tagline “The most wanted job in ad-tech”. Cavai’s excellent net promoter score 79 seems to confirm this. What makes your company culture unique?
Business is about people and only people. The company and its shareholder value is simply a collection of people and their activities and the results of those activities. I think it is easy to accept that love is a better experience than fear. We actively seek out fear placed approaches, which are rampant in modern corporate culture, and replace them with love based ones.
Everyone in Cavai has the exact same job description – “Do your best work”.
And everyone who works in leadership follows the same management principle – “Get out people’s way and make sure they have what they need and want.”
Although Cavai has many offices across Europe with HQ in Oslo, you also offer an option to work 100% remotely. Does Cavai have any rules at all concerning the working place and time? What about vacation time?
Our R&D HQ is in Helsinki. We are really thankful for having a strong employer brand in the area surrounding Helsinki. There is tremendous culture for advanced engineering work in that area.
We have 100% flexibility in terms of where and when you want to work. We are also experimenting with flexible holidays and other less conventional approaches.
Cavai’s stated management philosophy is that the team leaders should communicate the vision and then basically get out of the way of great talent. How did you arrive at this philosophy at Cavai? Have there been any particular experiences in the past that have shaped it?
I think great engineers are looking for mastery in their craft. As much as it is useful to have a relationship with someone looking after you and helping you make small corrections along the way, mastery is very much a personal experience. You will use an incredible amount of time by yourself working on something. It is useful to have guides, but it is there only because then you know you have that kind of support available when you need it and want it.
What can work in the ad-tech sector offer to software engineers that other sectors can’t? Maybe you can introduce a few key issues that Cavai’s development team is tackling right now?
The daily online advertising ecosystem footprint is roughly one trillion connections. Some of the most exciting computational advancements are taking place in advertising technology. There are a lot of technical challenges like concurrency that almost no other industry has.
Because Cavai focuses on creative technology, there is an opportunity for us to make advertising better. Because right now, advertising online is mostly awful and is completely disconnected from people. I prefer that the world is free from ads, but I think it is more realistic to make ads better. Let’s make ads more about people and less about whatever it is about now.
Last year, Cavai announced significant growth plans, and with that comes the need for additional team members. What qualities are you looking for when making a new hire?
- Great cultural fit
- Active contributor to the open-source community
- Aspires to attain mastery.
I want to thank everyone who has applied for a job with Cavai or even thought about it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing people. Thank you.
Cavai’s open positions:
- Senior Full Stack Developer (Helsinki, Remote)
- Senior Frontend Developer (Helsinki, Remote)
- Lead Developer (Helsinki, Remote)
- Is your skill level in Vue exceptionally high? (Helsinki, Oslo, London, Remote)
- Are You Our DevSecOps Lead? (Helsinki, Oslo, London, Remote)
- Do you love working with data? (Helsinki, Remote)