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How This Company's Innovative Model is Honing Software Developers While Reducing Costs Meet Build Labs: a collective of stateside engineers building exceptional, affordable software.

By Srivatsa KR

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Software has become the foundation of our modern life. We have come to expect the convenience, flexibility, speed, and service that it provides. That comes at a price. As the demand for software continues to grow, so does the cost to hire and produce that software. With experienced developers in short supply, the cost is expected to continue to rise.

Build Labs is working to reduce the cost of high-quality software development and change the way novice developers gain real-world experience. They are the first of their kind to create a sustainable business model using an apprenticeship framework. "It's a win-win-win for everybody," says James Dietrich, founder.

The Build Labs model solves two significant problems in the software development industry. First, expert software developers are difficult to find, making it challenging for companies to hire sufficiently talented developers to build their business critical software. Second, the lack of skilled developers has pushed up the cost of software development. The Build Labs Mentor/Apprentice model provides a lower cost, US-based alternative for outsourced software.

The Build Labs Model

The model is based on a groundbreaking software development apprenticeship program. Most apprentice programs are offered by large companies. The programs typically last a few months with no guarantee of being hired. While an apprenticeship looks great on a resume, it is much less impactful than being hired and working your way through the ranks on your merit.

Build Labs designed their program to be more comprehensive than other apprenticeship programs. Developers newly graduating from bachelor degree, associates degree, a coding boot camp, or another certification program have the opportunity to hone their skills on real-world projects under the expert guidance of DevMentors. This way, developers gain the necessary experience in their chosen specialty. Additionally, developers can advance within Build Labs or take a position offered by the clients they are working with. The apprenticeship approach has proven to advance the skills of developers faster, creating a stronger generation of coders.

Over the last 4 years, Build Labs has identified the optimal support ratio of Mentor/Journeyman/Apprentice for each team. Each discipline has one or more Mentors. A Mentor is on par with a lead developer, working as the technical lead on a project, but with the additional requirement of providing guidance, reviewing and approving completed work by Journeymen and Apprentices.

Journeymen comprise the next level in the structure. Journeymen are experienced developers, continually improving their mastery of software, while learning what it takes to be a Mentor. They receive guidance and review by their assigned Mentor and also assist in supporting Apprentices.

All of this structure is created to support the Apprentices as they work through the complexity of software development. "We know the apprentices are going to make mistakes; we have a support structure in place to catch and correct those mistakes," shared James.

While bootcamps and similar programs provide an effective and affordable way to get started in software, most boot camps do not offer employment upon graduation. One of the most successful software bootcamps is Prime Digital Academy, located in Minneapolis. "Our curriculum is challenging and we try to give folks as much experience as we can pack into a very small time frame." stated Mark Hurlburt, President and Co-Founder of Prime. Through a rigorous 20 week program, Prime turns individuals with no prior software development experience into developers. "Build Labs provides a great environment for alumni to build on what they learned at Prime and to hone their skills with more real world projects after graduation."

Build Labs is giving new coders an unmatched opportunity while providing clients with quality software at a low cost. "Our clients get excellent software because of our support structure. And they get it at a lower price because of our niche in the software industry," said James.

"They [Build Labs] have become our trusted partner," said Dan Yarusso, President of WashCard, the Minnesota based IoT manufacturer. "With demand for the iOS version of the UWash app growing, we needed a partner to help get the Android version on the market fast." Working to outpace their competitors, Build Labs worked with WashCard to help launch their Android version in just a few months. The app has now outpaced their competition for features, and garnered praise from the industry.

The Build Labs CDM Difference

Build Labs is also changing the way companies hire software developers. Some forward-thinking companies have engaged Build Labs to manage their continuous hiring of new software developers through their Continuous Delivery Model (CDM). Using Build Labs as a training ground for post-graduate new hires, these companies have access to proven hire from a skilled team of developers for any of their internal teams. "It's like having a minor league team, with players practicing their skills, and ready for the major leagues when needed." says Dietrich. The consistent core of new developers ensures that there is never a shortage of inventive ways to solve problems.

Through this model, Build Labs has delivered for companies from startup to Fortune 1000, including industry leading giants like Real Chemistry. "Build Labs operated as an extension of our internal team," said Aaron Strout, Real Chemistry CMO, "designing and building internal projects, allowing Real Chemistry to continue to focus on our clients' needs."

Build Labs has successfully delivered projects of all sizes for companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 1000 using this model and with capabilities which include IoT, native mobile, embedded firmware, connected device and big data, and smart dashboards, they have capabilities for just about every company. Build Labs is truly an innovator to watch. To learn more about Build Labs, media inquiries, or additional information, contact Build Labs.

Srivatsa KR

Start-up enthusiast & Blogger

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