Who is Upp?
The world of retail changed forever when the world went online. Now competition is fiercer than ever, and businesses are struggling to survive. Why?
Firstly, companies struggle to drive revenue across multiple channels. Amazon, eBay, and Google all categorise, list and sell products differently so it’s hard to effectively sell on more than one channel. Secondly, companies still focus too heavily on revenue generation. On average, across an entire product range the company profit will be driven by only 30% of their products, the remaining 70% is sold at cost or loss.
Upp wants to help both local retailers and global multinationals to not only survive in this market but thrive, by enabling them to not only drive revenue more effectively across multiple channels but also to allow businesses to understand their profitability at an individual product level.
The Upp journey so far:
Upp focused on building their first module, their “Intelligent Listing Engine”. This addressed the challenge with selling products across multiple channels. Retailers can plug into the Upp platform, the platform ingests all of their data effortlessly, it figures out what data is missing using machine learning, it uses image processing to enrich the product data, and it then lists the products on multiple channels intelligently adjusting the listing depending on how that channel works. This allowed products to be listed 40x fast than traditional methods whilst, improving product visibility and increasing sales margins.
As Upp started plugging customers in to their platform, they discovered a more deep-rooted challenge for these businesses. Companies focused on revenue generation as a key business metric and their teams’ performance was measured in this way. Businesses with high revenue figures struggled because they didn’t have visibility of which of their products were selling at a cost or a profit. This is why local independents to global multinational retailers struggle alike to survive, they don’t have visibility of profit margins at a macro level.
Upp are now building a second module, their “Intelligent Margin Hub” to allow retailers to have macro visibility of their data and provide actionable insights.
The Upp mission:
To save retailers, small and large, by giving them access to data and insights that allows them to improve profitability and win more customers.
Upp is a mission led startup looking to address a core challenge within one of the largest business sectors in the world, online retail. They are focused on developing and constantly improving the two core components of their product.
Upp has 25 employees based in their London office in Fitzrovia; with large open plan spaces great for collaboration, meetups and product demos, and obviously the obligatory beer fridge. Although the office space is great, it is the culture and sense of purpose that shines through.
For now, Upp is focused on increasing the number of paying customers using their “Intelligent Listing Engine”. Whilst the “Intelligent Margin Hub” is at Beta stage with a small number of businesses.
The company is well funded, in late 2021 Upp will either look to raise their Series B or be profitable. At this point the company will be heavily scaling, both in terms of customers acquisition and hiring within the product engineering function.
The Upp platform enables retailers to drive macro business outcomes by combining marketing, ecommerce and business data to win more customers and improve profitability.
Upp uses machine learning to enrich product titles, attributes and descriptions so they’re found by more consumers. Upp intelligently lists your products on Google Shopping and Amazon 40x faster than traditional methods while improving your product visibility and effectively increasing your sales and margin.
Beyond product listing capabilities, Upp empowers ecommerce and digital marketing teams to make smart online retail decisions, by giving them SKU level margin visibility and providing insights and actions to drive the best results. Upp aligns your teams around the bigger picture by simply connecting silos of data from across the business and helping the team stay focused on profitability.
Upp currently has two modules:
- Intelligent Listing Engine:
- Taking product information and intelligently optimizing it for Google Shopping to drive revenue and profitability
- Improving your product visibility by enriching product titles and attributes to ensure your product is seen more and the customer experience improves
- Intelligent Margin Hub:
- Providing SKU level margin visibility, insights and actions to optimize digital marketing spend and increase profitability
- Simply connects business and marketing data from the across the business to provide insights and focus on the right metrics
Product Roadmap for 2020
In 2019 the focus was getting the Listing Engine production ready whilst building starting to build the Margin Hub module. There was also a focus on consolidating and simplifying the architecture and tech stack to allow for both rapid feature development and building reliable, secure code.
The product roadmap for 2020:
- Intelligent Listing Engine:
- Improve/mature current features:
- Improve the management of products across channels
- Add in social channels
- Improving the data enrichment process
- Introducing more self-service features
- Continuing to take customer feedback to drive new feature development
- Focusing on performance and scalability as the customer base grows
- Intelligent Margin Hub:
- Taking Margin Hub from MVP to Production, whilst onboarding live customers.
- Integrate into retailers back office platforms
- Report SKU level margin performance
- Integrate with external data sources to identify trends
- Use machine learning to generate “recommend” actions to improve profit margins
The Product Engineering function is 20 strong. Drew heads up Product, with a team of Product Owners and Designers. Ben heads up Engineering, leading 3 lean cross-functional teams.
The engineering squads are aligned to the product modules:
- Intelligent Listing Engine
- Intelligent Margin Hub
- Product data – metadata and modelling
Upp has 2 core squads, each squad is a cross functional team that consists of Front and Backend Developers, QA engineers, DevOps engineers, and Data Scientists. Each squad is headed up by a Product Owner and Lead Developer that guide and inspire the squad, Upp describe the PO and Lead Dev, as the CPO and CTO of the squad.
Each squad has their own focused backlog and they work to fortnightly sprints. The features worked on cut across the entire stack. Each squad has their own designer and frontend engineer, but developers will still be able to work full stack and have input into product design. DevOps responsibilities are shared across the squads as well.
The focus for the first half of 2020 is on the product and customer acquisition, the second half of the year will be focused on scaling the product engineering function.
- Backend: Java, Spring Boot, Kotlin, Microservices Architecture, GraphQL, Kafka.
- Database: MongoDB, Neo4j.
- Cloud & DevOps: AWS, Jenkins, Docker, Kubernetes, Terraform, Packer, Ansible
You will be taking over as Lead Developer of the Margin Hub team. Margin Hub is in MVP state and the focus is now getting this production ready. Margin Hub will be the largest revenue generator for Upp, so you’ll be taking over a critical part of the platform with a strategic focus from the exec team.
Your role will split between hands on and leadership.
- 80% hands on – leading on architectural decisions, overseeing execution and being an individual contributor. You will be the technical SME for the team.
- 20% leadership – line management of the team (monthly meetings, OKR’s) and mentoring the team on technical decision making. This will be closely supported by the Director of Engineering.
You will work closely with the Product Owner to ensure product and engineering are aligned, agree priorities and ensure delivery is on track.
You will also be tasked with owning the architecture and ensuring that Margin Hub is designed and built in a robust and scalable way.
The team are all London based and form a close knit unit.
What you will be tasked with:
- You will lead the squad and have overall accountability for the product delivery.
- You will form a close partnership with the Product Owner to ensure consistency from Product Research/Design to Delivery.
- Your will inspire the team to challenge what is technically possible and enable those around you.
- You will educate and mentor the squad on technical decision making, maturing their understanding of trade-offs.
- You will review the current state of the product and drive technical innovation.
- You will be able to architect the product with resilience, performance and scalability in mind.
- You will own the architecture, tech and tooling.
What Upp are looking for in you:
Non-negotiables – soft skills:
- An interest in product and startups. Working with a small team to take a new offering to market excites you. You understand user needs, market positioning and how that flows into product build.
- Mission led. Someone who buys into the mission of a company and the problem they are solving. Upp are growing fast and have a tonne of things they need to achieve, they want people that are bought in for the long term and believe in what they’re doing.
- Pragmatic thinker. You have a structured approach to situations, if you don’t know the answer, you’ll know how to find it out.
- Open to change. You are able to work in a fast paced environments where priorities can change instantly, and you are able to adjust.
- Technologist. Someone that understands technology on a deeper level, you will have worked with different architectural patterns and programming languages and understand why different tools work better for different situations.
Non-negotiables – tech skills:
- Strong experience in Java, Spring and Microservices development.
- Strong experience on platform integration. Margin Hub needs to integrate with multiple customer platforms. Upp have just invested in Cloud Elements as the key integration tool.
- Solid on code quality and testing, and DevOps.
- Strong on architectural principles, ideally Event Sourcing and CQRS.
- Ability to mentor others on technical decision making on the Upp tech stack.
Nice to haves:
- Experience with Kotlin.
- Hands on DevOps/infrastructure experience.
What you will achieve in your first six months:
- Built strong relationships with the team and be the go-to person for help and support.
- Have led the Margin Hub product to be production ready and have multiple customers on the platform.
- Have led the architecture and design of the platform, as well as contributed to the codebase.
- Reviewed and improved aspects of the architecture, stack and tooling.
- Matured the decision making of the team and helped make them better engineers.
- Have recruited strong engineers to join the team.
How your role will evolve:
Upp expect to grow significantly in Q4 2020/Q1 2021, which will means more product teams. The two opportunities this will likely present to you is:
- Principal Engineer; an overarching role to own the tech stack for Upp.
- Engineering Manager/Head of; if you would be interested in the people management route.
The Package and Benefits:
- £90-110,000 basic salary + 10% bonus (paid quarterly)
- Tech of your choice
- 25 days annual leave plus your birthday off
- Pension Scheme
- Free breakfasts, strong coffee, fully stacked fridge with drinks and snacks.
- Other perks: free mobile phone insurance, cinema discounts, eyecare voucher scheme, employee assistance programme.
1 stage, 1.5 hour interview process