Educating junior developers through the Tappx School

A couple of weeks back, Tappx was kind enough to host Circular’s Barcelona Meetup in their offices, where they talked about tech recruitment in a hyper-competitive market, and the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdowns on their business and their in-house people policies.

Gabriel Molina, Tech Talent Specialist at Tappx, kicked off the Meetup by talking about how Tappx’s history, how the company has grown, how the business was impacted after the pandemic and new casuistics on workforce organisation.

A brief History of Tappx

Tappx is a relatively young company, although not so much in their industry: Adtech. Founded in 2013 by Daniel Reina (CEO) and Antonio Hervás (CTO), the company has been on a continued growth spurt since its foundation.

The company started as part of an accelerator in 2014, and in 2015, only a year later, was already breaking even. Like with any other company there were ups and downs and then 2020 happened: According to FT1000, Tappx was the company that grew the most in their industry in Spain, and the second at the European level. This kept up through 2021 when the company grew from 20 to 50 employees. Currently, Tappx has 67 employees with the expectation of being 100 by the end of 2022.

Tappx, as an AD tech company covering a wide variety of ad formats, is a tech company at heart. Constantly developing propriety technologies and solutions and delivering them across different platforms and different markets, and in particular, operating in a saturated market where developers are in high demand, is one of Tappx’s Biggest challenges.

How does one hire in a market where qualified senior developers when are the rarest of commodities? This is the question at the heart of the hiring wars and one Tappx has answered in a creative and human way.

Competing on conditions and salaries can be a zero-sum game and outright prohibitive most of the time, and even more so, senior profiles. But the situation is a bit different for junior profiles. There’s a lot of available talent that is not given opportunities for a variety of reasons.

Introducing the Tappx School

Tappx has employed a hybrid approach: They do not only focus on recruiting for senior roles, but also hire junior roles in order to train them internally in what they call the Tappx School. How does this initiative work in practice during the hiring process?

The first thing is evaluating the quality of the process. Hiring juniors can be less straightforward, so the process starts with the first interview, where three things are key: We have to be ready to be surprised, have clarity on what we want to understand from the candidate, and the attitude the candidate has.

The next step is coordinating with team leaders to understand the team's needs and their capacity to onboard a new member. Once coordinated with the team leader, establishing a buddy system is key. They are going to be the ones supporting, guiding and following up on their education processes.

This brings us to the last and most important point: The Education plan. Without a clear and well-defined plan, it's impossible to track its effectiveness and evolution. This education plan isn’t only internal, we also offer the option to sign up for courses that are of interest to them and that will bring value to their teams.

Graduating from the Tappx School

The combination of internal and external training is really a powerful mix, and it has an end in mind. We don't think of ourselves as a higher education institution, nor do we want to train great developers for other companies, we want them to stay with us as long as they want, and we work hard to create those motivators in the form of economic incentives and both horizontal and vertical career growth inside the company.

So far it has been a success with a lot of upward movement in their junior hires, and large, hyper dynamic teams. The success of the Tappx School is at heart, the compromise of not only offering junior profiles an opportunity, but one where they can grow. They have put a lot of effort into transmitting this compromise to their junior developers, and in return, we have seen more commitment, more fidelity and a willingness to grow while doing what they like to do.

One interesting aspect of this too is that the candidate experience in the process and the employee experience when in the Tappx School is the word of mouth effect. They themselves recommend Tappx to their friends and colleagues who have or are finishing their studies.

This article is a transcription of the talk given by Gabriel Molina at Circular's Barcelona Meetup. We are always organizing meetups, sign up to the Circular community here and don't miss out!