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Meet our hiring partners: Evolany

In this article series, we’re introducing our hiring partners in Tokyo: startups, web agencies or large tech companies that regularly hire Le Wagon Tokyo graduates. Discover their services, the working environment they propose, and most importantly, what they like about our amazing graduates!
This time, we talked with Christian Forestell, co-founder of Evolany, a SaaS company specializing in building no-code chatbots and miniapps for enterprises.  Evolany has hired the biggest number of Le Wagon Tokyo alumni ever.

Thanks for coming to our campus, Christian! Let’s start with your background.

I graduated with a degree in architecture, with a huge respect for one of Japan's prominent architects, Tadao Ando. After years of recruiting in the tech space, a growing interest in entrepreneurialism and venture capital led me to building my first software company, Arcollabo, which was a collaboration platform that connected potential custom home buyers with architecture students. After Arcollabo I founded 2 more companies; one in the business intelligence space, the other in adventure travel.

In mid-2017 I became the Japan representative for a Singapore-based company that created chatbots for hotels. While looking for chatbot collaborators, I met my future co-founder, Song Yu, who is a respected engineer and project manager.

We officially launched Evolany in March 2018 and since then I've been wearing many different hats; some days I’ll be working on product or UI design, others recruiting. 

How has Evolany evolved since launch?

Evolany started off as a no-code chatbot builder for LINE. Our strategy was different from other chatbots, though. Instead of focussing on NLP (Natural Language Processing), we focussed on the design aspect, creating chatbots that looked and behaved more like native apps. This led to the next iteration of the anybot platform, miniapps, which were inspired by WeChat “miniprograms.”

In 2017, WeChat pivoted into becoming the world’s first “superapp.” A superapp is a native app that allows other apps to be built inside it. So, in WeChat, users could chat with their family and friends, but also order takeout, rent a bicycle, make reservations, and so much more.

We decided to add a similar functionality to LINE and focused on creating miniapps.

For the first 8 months, it was just Song-san (CEO) and I working from a spare room in his house. In October 2018, we raised a seed round, hired three more people and quickly set up our first office.

In August 2021, we had 35 people and now we've grown up to nearly 70. 50-55% of our employees are developers. 

What tech stack do you use?

We use our own framework which is similar to jQuery, markup languages HTML and CSS, JavaScript and occasionally other frameworks like React. All of the data pulled into the database and used by a clientele is coded in PHP. 

Our senior engineers use Lua, an open-source programming language that has been popularized by the game World of Warcraft. It helped us to cut our AWS significantly, while also making anybot faster.

What makes your work environment special?

With 21 nationalities onboard, a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to our company. Our youngest member ever was 19 years old and our oldest was 66.

A relatively flat corporate structure differentiates us from other companies, and salary and raises are based on merit, not time spent with the company. We don't want our engineers competing against each other for limited spaces. If they want a better salary, they need to upskill, take an internal exam and get qualified for promotion. 

How many Le Wagon graduates have you been working with so far?

So far, we have hired around 12 people who went through Le Wagon Tokyo coding bootcamps. They have a very practical coding mindset and are old enough to make informed decisions on a career path on their own. 

Secondly, I would like to highlight that we value multiculturalism and diversity. People with an interesting, composite background like coding bootcamp graduates make a balanced addition to our team. 

What qualities do you value the most when hiring developers?

I've always hired with my gut feeling — I have a sense of who could work together in a team or for a specific position. 

Hard skills are important but I prefer open-minded and curious learners. If you have zero hobbies, it will be difficult to fit in a new office environment. It is perfect if you have a personal story to tell. I have hired people based on the strength of their story.

Thank you for the conversation! Any last words?

We are hiring experienced DevOps, Infrastructure engineers, and DX Consultants! If you are interested, come visit our new office in Shin-Yokohama. We have massage chairs, a punching bag, a 100 square meter fake grass space with a bunch of animal-shaped chairs, free drink machines, a dedicated takoyaki trolley, and the best bread in Yokohama. 
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