Two longtime Seattle-area engineers are teaming up to launch Sodo, a new professional-development startup that wants to help software development teams get up and running using modern software development techniques and practices.
Sodo, short for “ship on day one,” is the brainchild of Robert Duffy and Eric Schoonover, who met while working at Time Inc. after separately leading engineering teams at Microsoft, Amazon, and Netflix. The idea behind the company is to bank on their combined decades of experience working with world-class software development organizations to teach companies without the same pedigree how they can catch up quicker than they might think.
“There’s a heck of a lot to change when you’re trying to modernize a team,” Duffy said. Companies with older infrastructure tend to focus on the new tools and techniques they need to learn — which is definitely important — but organizations that want to get the most out of those new tools also need to change their cultures, he said.
Duffy and Schoonover have taken their experience and distilled it down to 15 principles that they believe modern software development teams need to follow in order to move at the pace demanded by the modern world. In the pre-cloud era, companies tended to develop software in one big assembly line fashion, and it takes a long time to ship updates when you’re developing in that fashion. But today, the best modern web and mobile applications are updated on a near-constant basis as new features or fixes are ready.
It takes a shift in thinking in order to really embrace this new era, and Sodo offers two products to help. The company has been operating quietly about a year, developing its coursework and holding several training sessions.
Workshops are designed for an individual to attend a two-day training session that covers the basic 15 principles. They cost $2,000 a ticket, and are designed for new engineering managers or executives that want to learn the best ways to communicate these newer techniques to their teams.
Navigator is a much more hands-on product, in which Duffy and Schoonover will come onsite at a customer’s offices to teach the 15 principles and lead group discussions. These sessions cost $60,000, and are designed for teams of around 30 employees.
The Navigator sessions also come with monitoring tools that Sodo will customize for a team’s development setup, and work in conjunction with the engineering manager to track progress and figure out which behaviors to incentivize.
Sodo raised an angel round last year to build out the principles and what is now a 10-person team, Duffy said. Unlike a lot of DevOps startups working on core tech, Sodo is already profitable, but the company is thinking about raising a larger round later this year to ramp up the number of training sessions it can offer, he said.