Since 2018, Scaletech has gathered senior executives, investors, startup veterans, and pioneering technologists once a year to discuss the unique challenges of scaling technology, product, teams, and business growth. Here’s what we’ve tackled in past years.
We moved Scaletech online in 2020 to look at the challenges and opportunities of building AI into products. Hosts Alistair Croll and Theresa Johnson used the newfound flexibility of virtual gatherings to add several additional conversations throughout the year with executives from leading tech startups.
Introducing Scaletech AI
AI strategy and buy-in
Cloudera founder Mike Olson and Loop.io’s Nahla Sahlem joined talked about the early stages of AI deployment, and how to make smart strategic choices while shifting the organization towards AI offerings.
AI design, tooling, and data
Once you’re ready, it’s time to design your product—and the tools you need to ingest and act on data in production. And of course, to engineer the data sets that make machine learning happen. Joseph Sirosh, CTO of Compass, joined Primer’s Navdeep Martin and Amy Heineke to share their experiences building some of the world’s most ambitious data products.
2020 annual conference
Our 2020 event welcomed Meetup.com’s David Siegel—who opened our eyes to how the pandemic shaped tech and networking. Cait O’Riordan (FT, Shazam, BBC) talked about running a large-scale newspaper’s tech stack, Elisabeth Caley talked about rapidly scaling fringe tech, and Jessica Graves talked data science and fashion. BMO’s Devon Dayton talked to telecom pioneer Joe Hogan, while Georgian’s Margaret Wu interviewed Wired This Way author Jessica Carson about founder mental fitness. And Slack SVP and multi-IPO technologist Allan Leinwand shared his hard-won lessons on delivering frequent improvements to a demanding community reliably.
Hiring, team & process
AI product teams aren’t like normal software groups. For one thing, you’re not writing code that produces data—you’re using data to produce code. But the wide-ranging power of AI means you also need personality writers, ethicists, and more.
For this session, Microsoft’s Deborah Harrison—one of the architects of the company’s Cortana personal assistant—joined Journey Food’s CEO, and advocate for systemic food supply transparency, Riana Lynn to talk about building the team and processes needed to make AI products work at scale.
AI product go-to-market
How do you take a data-driven product to market, when you can’t be certain how it will work? How do you balance clear communication of benefits with the inherently unpredictable behaviour of machine learning? Yelp’s Justin Norman talked about productizing data models, and Fiix’s Lisa Huang and Peter Doulas detailed their company’s approach to proving the value with customers.
Our second conference included a candid look at startups post-acquisition; talks on consumer behaviour, chatbots, building healthy, and inclusive culture in rapid growth; tech scaling challenges; and the speedbumps on the road to a Billion dollar company.
The inaugural Scaletech event brought together the inventor of DNS; founding teams from some of the world’s household tech firms; experts in ethics and cognitive science; and Harvard professors. We looked at scale-stage growth, and the ability of technology at scale to build competitive moats.