Editor’s note: Ele. me officially joined Alibaba’s new retail team in April, further accelerating its expansion in the local lifestyle market. Ele. me has experienced true “zero to one” in the food delivery sector in its nine years of entrepreneurship, especially in the technical upgrade of its food delivery platform, crossing one no man’s land after another. Therefore, as early as last year, the cloud community made an in-depth introduction to ele. me’s technological evolution (see “Four Twists and turns in Ele. me’s Technological evolution, Interview with Zhang Xuefeng”), and received extensive attention from the technical circle. *

This year, we once again invited Zhang Xuefeng, CTO of Ele. me, and tried to abstract the characteristics of technical talents of Internet startups with complete life cycle from the perspective of “Ele. me’s view of technical talents”, hoping to bring new inspiration to everyone.

Zhang Xuefeng, CTO

Cloud community: The biggest concern of the technical entrepreneurship team is the recruitment strategy of the start-up company at different stages. Can you talk about it based on the experience of Ele. me?

Zhang Xuefeng: It was lucky to recruit people at the earliest stage (laughing). At the beginning of the start-up, the technical team did not have a detailed division of job functions, and everyone would do a lot of cross-functional work, so they were generally versatile. But when the business enters a period of high growth, it cannot continue this “primitive” way, and the requirements for personnel will be refined.

When I joined ele. me, the company had 35 technicians and was already recruiting in niche areas. When the team reaches more than 70 people, specialized operation and maintenance personnel and product managers are available. At the same time, due to the demand of business growth, we began to pay more and more attention to the infrastructure level, such as the use of middleware and some operation and maintenance tools, and the corresponding introduction of technical personnel in related fields. At the end of 2016, when we reached more than 900 employees, we began to pay attention to business-based big data and security issues, and formally set up an algorithm team, information security and risk control team.

Cloud community: What is the value of the big data business you mentioned in the ele. me business scenario? Now “all business data” is very popular, so at what stage do startups need to have data awareness and bring in relevant talents?

Zhang xuefen: At that time, the big data we talked about was still relatively preliminary, just collecting business data and giving feedback to products. It wasn’t until we hit a plateau in ’17 that we really started to explore the value of data, especially in terms of growth in marketing and control costs. For example, the ground dispatching of Ele. me was initially operated by “rules”, which were inelastic in fact, equivalent to the operation of “human flesh” by dispatchers. Through the introduction of intelligent scheduling and big data analysis of order data on the platform, Ele. me has greatly improved the rationality of riders’ orders and routes. At the same time, big data also enables Ele. me to achieve “thousands of faces” and achieve personalized product recommendation mechanism. It should be noted that the logic of ele. me is different from the current popular Douyin. We need to help users make decisions quickly after entering the App, instead of staying and searching for a long time. So, what do users like to eat? How price sensitive are users? We need to analyze these data through historical data. In the future, Ele. me will further cooperate with alibaba’s partners in the new retail field to get through these data, truly understand customers, help customers make decisions quickly, and improve user experience.

As for the stage at which startups realize data is a treasure trove, Ele. me’s experience may not apply to all companies. Early on we were limited in our efforts with data because the business was growing so fast that it was hard to see the business value in improving efficiency at that point in time. Therefore, when we enter a stable development state and consider more ROI issues, we will need to use data to improve business efficiency, or even reduce business costs. At this stage, technical personnel engaged in big data and artificial intelligence will become the focus.

Cloud community: Considering the future business direction of Ele. me, what fields of technical personnel will be introduced in the future?

Zhang Xuefeng: Ele. me now has a complete business line. In addition to the artificial intelligence mentioned earlier, we also have an urgent demand for technical talents in the logistics field. Today, Ele. me has opened its own distribution capabilities, including Tmall, Hema, Youzan, and luckin coffee, which is now very popular. Our ideal logistics technical talents are those who have a deep understanding of business, technology and products. Compared with the popular “full stack development” in the past, such talents are more like the new generation of full stack and have a deeper understanding of data to business value.

Because I think, logistics is another battlefield after information flow, capital flow. Today we have to implement intensification of operations, cost accounting to li as the unit, but on the basis of this, there are still a lot of space can be optimized, the traditional logistics industry can be assigned by new technology can, and the data is the key factor, so I think, if a technology students can fully understand the business data value, and with prior experience in the product, Is very rare.

The Cloud Community: Technology that doesn’t understand Data is not a good product? According to our general cognition, technical personnel can understand technology, product, business related knowledge of technical personnel should be how to dig from the daily work?

Zhang Xuefeng: It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. Let me give you an example. In the early days of Ele. me, there was a time when the product became a leader: business students at the front line initiated various demands, and the product knew the urgency of this function only after going to the front line to understand it. This is also a common situation in many companies where product people are divorced from the real business. Therefore, technical personnel should consciously understand the actual application scenarios of the business, experience the business process from the existing data, and if there is an opportunity, also go to the first-tier market experience. If you are not the actual user of the product, how can you improve the product experience from the user’s perspective? Simple technical development can certainly improve professional skills, but the improvement of comprehensive ability must be closely related to business.

The cloud community: When it comes to the self-cultivation of technicians, it reminds me of the topic of “programmer anxiety”. At a company as young as Ele. me, do older employees have such concerns?

Zhang Xuefeng: With such intensive forwarding in the circle of friends, I think few people are not anxious. Ele. me is a young company, but it is not that there are no “older” programmers, precisely because they are relatively stable, can calm down, so we will entrust infrastructure and other work to them. In this role, it’s not about overtime, it’s about code stability, long experience, and deep thinking about the underlying logic of the business. However, in some new business teams, there are many young programmers, which are under great pressure and need a lot of manpower to support. There are many people who say that young people, especially the post-90s generation, are “impetuous”. In my opinion, to allow the “impetuous” of post-90s programmers, young people should try as much as possible to become versatile in the business, and we should allow such trial and error costs.

Cloud community: After start-up companies scale up, they seem to face the contradiction of cultivating talents by themselves or introducing talents. How did ELE. me do it?

Zhang Xuefeng: AS I said before, Ele. me is a very young company, so it only took us three years to grow our team from 35 people at the earliest to 1800 people today. On the other hand, it is also vigorously introducing external talents, which are obviously in the majority on the base. No matter in the rapid expansion of the business or entering the stable period today, we still insist on appointing people on the basis of merit and finding people who can get results.

Cloud Community: The last question is for those of you who want to move from technology to management. In your own experience, what does it take to move from technology to management? What other difficulties will we face?

Zhang Xuefeng: when do the CTO of an enterprise, technology and management of will tend to be made, if you begin to participate in the software architecture of an enterprise and organization structure change, you will find that the two are mutually mapped to a certain extent, the request to you is “hands to grasp, both hands to hard”.

From my own point of view, as a technician, the limited major must be excellent, first do deep in this line of technology, the team can recognize you. After that, create opportunities to touch products, business, data, try to be a generalist, to understand the logic of management. Of course, there are many difficulties in management, such as the adjustment of organizational structure, the poaching of peers, the formulation and management of KPI, which are not necessarily simpler than software architecture. It can be a tough process, but if you have a beginner’s mind about technology and really like it, you can stick with it.

No matter how busy I am now, I will occasionally test new technologies in an environment to keep myself up to date with the latest iterations of technology, which is also fun for me.

Postnote: Zhang Xuefeng mentioned in this interview that the successful experience of Ele. me may be of little reference to start-ups, but the pit and mistakes of Ele. me are the most worthy of sharing with everyone. On May 29, the cloud community and Alibaba R&D Efficiency Department will jointly hold the second R&D efficiency Carnival, which will invite Zhang Xuefeng, THE CTO of Ele. me, to share the dry products of “The Rapid development of entrepreneurial Team” for technical friends, please pay attention!

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