We are so excited to welcome Travis Fischer to the team as Hoop's Founding Engineer. Travis is an amazing developer but more importantly, an all around amazing human. Here, Travis shares his career journey from big tech to startup, what makes him excited about this opportunity, and why the future of work supports a more holistic way of living.
If you like what you read, join Travis at Hoop where we're helping teams make better decisions faster, without meetings. (Update: This position has been filled and we don’t currently have any open positions. However, if you’re interested in what we’re building and want to be considered for a future role, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
What has been your career journey?
I accidentally stumbled into building software as a career. I decided to try an “intro to programming class” during my second year of college as a finance major. The first day of class was one of those rare “lightbulb” moments in life where I recognized both that programming was something I was going to enjoy and that it provided interesting career options.
After graduating, I spent several years bouncing around between different large and small companies trying on many different hats and developing my chops doing front-end, back-end, data engineering, and devops.
In 2016, I landed a job as the first engineer on Trello’s new (at the time) “Internal Tools” team. Trello was my “dream job.” I was a long time user and fan of the product. I was a believer in Trello’s innovative remote friendly culture. I had a ton of respect for the industry pioneering leadership that came out of Trello’s parent company, Fog Creek as well as the writing of Fog Creek's founder Joel Spolsky. I was proud to be invited into that pedigree and excited to board what I viewed as an inevitable business success story in Trello.
Seven years later, after an acquisition by Atlassian, having worked under five different managers, across two teams, in three different roles (Senior Engineer, Engineering Manager and Principal Engineer), I was hungry to take on a new size and shape of challenge.
What draws you back to startups?
Being a part of an early stage startup is a singular experience. You get to be a part of creating something amazing out of nothing. You get to navigate uncharted waters and learn things that no one else has before. Every single person on the team is defining culture and determining success or failure on a daily basis. There is a level of focus and progress that isn’t replicated in many other contexts.
Startups can be scary. Success isn’t guaranteed. In fact, failure is often the most common the outcome. There are more unknowns than knowns ahead of you. You have to be willing to grow and stretch as the company does which can be uncomfortable at times. While those factors can be scary they are the same factors that make it a potentially career defining and life altering experience.
Why was Hoop in particular interesting?
I genuinely believe we can make millions of people's lives better by creating tools that help people make better decisions.
The opportunity to join Hoop was a 10/10 in terms of fit for the kind of startup I was looking for.
#1 The People - At a startup, the people are more important than anything else. They have to be world class at what they do or the startup will fail. You have to authentically enjoy spending time with them and collaborating with them because it’s the same small group of people all day every day. You have to have alignment on values, culture and product or everything will fall apart. I have the privilege of knowing the team at Hoop from our shared time at Trello and there is no other group of people I’d rather be building with right now.
#2 The Problem - Having spent ~15 years building software and much of that time working on remote teams using various degrees of async collaboration, the pain points that exist around decision making are something that I know intimately and feel viscerally. I genuinely believe we can make millions of people's lives better by creating tools that help people make better decisions.
#3 The Culture - As a husband, father of four kids and a dog, homeowner, and involved community member, I know time is our scarcest resource. While I want to leave a legacy of building amazing software products, that goal pales in comparison to the legacy that I intend to leave as a husband, father, friend and neighbor. Any startup where I had to sacrifice the quality of my personal relationships on the alter of hustle was a non-starter. Hoop’s heavy emphasis on “people first” values and ways of working makes my heart sing. It’s a culture I want to personally contribute to growing so more people can join the team and experience it.
#4 The Growth Opportunity - Having done both startups and big companies, there are a lot of interesting experiences you can only get in the context of a big company. However, if you want the opportunity to try your hand at many different disciplines, in many different contexts and be asked to rise to new and exciting challenges on a daily basis, a startup is the place to be. You will grow and learn faster than anywhere else in the world. Whether your ultimate goal is to become a CEO, CTO, VP of Engineering, Chief Architect, Product Manager or Lead Principal Engineer, growing with a startup is often the most direct path to getting that opportunity.
What are you excited to build?
One new experience that I’m excited to take part in at Hoop is to build an engineering team and culture from the ground up. I’ve done a lot of hands on learning how to build engineering teams during my career and have had the opportunity to contribute to building some amazing teams. Here at Hoop as the first founding engineer I get to start from square one.
Building a successful startup while building a team where people feel like they belong and can safely bring who they are to work is a next level challenge and that excites me. For me, “winning” the startup game isn’t enough if it comes at a human cost.
I want to build a team that holds excellence in craft in one hand and empathy and belonging in the other and view both as equally vital. Building a successful startup is really hard. Building a successful startup while building a team where people feel like they belong and can safely bring who they are to work is a next level challenge and that excites me. For me, “winning” the startup game isn’t enough if it comes at a human cost.
Is the future of work remote and asynchronous?
The promise and beauty of async and remote is that work and life can be custom tailored, like a well-fitted suit. I get to choose where I live, what environment I work in and even which hours I work. I can work during the hours that I’m most productive, energized and inspired and not work when I’m not. I can balance the needs of my family and the needs of my company in a way where both can approach their fullest potential rather than feeling like one always needs to be given the short end of the stick to serve the other.
It’s not only a more humane way to work but it has the potential to unlock levels of creativity and productivity that otherwise get crowded out by the arbitrary constraints and distractions of the old ways of working.
Where will you need to adapt to a different working style?
I have a good amount of experience working both asynchronously and remotely under my belt. I’ve learned that a key to succeeding is to draw clear boundaries between work and personal life. While async remote work allows work and life to harmonize better, they should not be blended together like a smoothie.
Just because I’m on the other side of the door from my wife and kids all day doesn’t mean that I should be interruptible all day long. And just because I’m on the other side of the door from my work laptop all weekend, doesn’t mean I should be accessible to work all weekend.
Additionally, long term sustainable remote async work takes specific and intentional investment in relationship building. You need to set aside regular time and specific rhythms to be humans together and connect about things that are detached from the work you are trying to do. This is something that comes almost for free in co-located teams and is more natural in synchronous teams.
Async remote working intentionally reduces the amount of time spent in high fidelity synchronous communication with other humans. If you ignore investing in building connection and relationships, then your collaboration, belonging, and fulfillment will greatly suffer. To put it simply, the team won’t last long term.
What do you do to unwind?
I live in the Ladera Heights area of Los Angeles with my wife, my four kids and our pup Monty. We are a big LEGO family and have a dedicated LEGO area in our house. My office is littered with LEGO including every Boba Fett related item LEGO has made.
I’m an amateur musician and grew up playing drums in a few local rock bands through high school and college, including “The Homeschoolers”. Which reminds me, I was homeschooled K-12 back in the 90s when that was less common. I grew up in the river valley town of La Crosse, WI which is the birthplace of La Croix sparkling water. I grew up drinking La Croix in the 80s and 90s decades before anyone else knew it existed.
What an awesome introduction and we couldn't be more excited to have Travis on the team. In case you missed it, we're hiring! Join the Hoop team as a Founding Engineer and let's build something great together. (Update: This position has been filled and we don’t currently have any open positions. However, if you’re interested in what we’re building and want to be considered for a future role, email us at email@example.com)