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Noticing Neighbors Code Koalas


When was the last time you had an app idea you’d like to bring to life? Code Koalas is a web and app development agency that takes creative ideas from start to finish. With a team of developers, custom designers and product owners who see the project through, this team brings the long term solutions that companies need in the tech space.

Tiara Williams is the Marketing Specialist for Code Koalas, and sat down to share what it’s like to be working in the tech field.

Hayley:

For readers who may not have heard of Code Koalas, can you share what you all do and what you offer to the community?


Tiara:

Yeah! At Code Koalas, we are a web development agency, and so we help build websites. We help with maintenance. We help build mobile applications. We do so many different services, with so many different kinds of people.

We work with nonprofits, people in the construction industry, start ups, and other agencies who don't quite have the technical know-how when they're hired by a company, so they hand it off to us. We do a variety of different services to help in the technology field.


Hayley:

Wow. So literally building the website or the app platform.


Tiara:

Yes, by writing the code for it. We have a whole bunch of talented developers on our team, and so we're really lucky.


Hayley:

This is a really cool topic I feel like a lot of people might not know about. If someone comes with an idea, and they're wanting it to become real, but they can't take it there themselves—what are some steps you all do to workshop that?


Tiara:

Oh, my gosh. That is a great question. Our slogan is: We make your dreams a technical reality. So you come to us and you're like, “Hey, I have this idea for an app. I don't even know where to get started. What do we do?” We love those ideas because that's when our devs (web & app developers) get to be creative! Hayley: What is the process from there? Tiara: We start the discovery process. We look into what your idea would entail, what your needs are, and then come up with a game plan. Once we have the game plan, we have Product Owners, and they are like our hand holders. Throughout the process, they keep you informed. They stay on top and make sure a project is going the direction you want it and making sure it's on time, on budget, and really keeping that line of communication open between the company that has hired us and our dev. Hayley: It sounds like the beginning is really important, for getting to know what they are looking for. Tiara: The first step is always a discovery. We want to know about you, and we want to know what makes you tick. We want to know what your ideas are, and we want to make sure that we are making that a reality. Not what we want it to be, but what you want it to be. So it's a lot of listening, especially if somebody's not in a technical field. Like, it's a lot of just, you tell us what you want, we'll discover it through this whole process, and then we'll work together to make it a reality.


Hayley:

That's really interesting. You mention how important listening is in that process. That makes a lot of sense because like you said, you're not building what you want it to be—you're really wanting to bring their idea to life. Do you have any tips or good practices that you see around the office for real listening, and really listening to clients?


Tiara:

Yes. So, a lot of what we do in this field is listen. It doesn't matter if it's a client, or coworker, or just going to a webinar—we're always listening and learning. In everything we do, it's very emphasized that we are listening.

We're listening to others, and while we're listening, we're learning. So even if it's a company meeting and I'm talking about something in marketing, our developers are completely present. They have nothing to do with marketing. They don’t know what SEO is. They don't know what I'm doing with social media, but they listen because it's important. It's important to me, and it's important. So when we listen to each other, that's where the best creativity comes from. That's where we thrive—not only listen to each other, but also when we listen to the client. Every single person in this company feels really important because they feel listened to.


Hayley:

That's a great work environment, too. I'm curious, you have this really unique perspective of getting to see ideas come to life. Are there any specific projects that you found especially meaningful?


Tiara:

Yeah, so I've been at Code Koalas for a year, and so obviously before I got here, they had worked on other projects. We work with this nonprofit called the Global Orphan Project, and they help connect agencies in need with people that are willing to help foster children. Their whole goal is to keep kids out of the foster system if they can, and if not, get these kids what they need. So they had our company build an app called Care Portal, so a social worker can put on this app: “Hey, I am located in Kansas City, Missouri. I have a mother with five kids. She needs to keep her job to make sure that she can keep her housing because she's trying not to lose her children. Can anybody help with this?” And in an instant, it gets this need out to anybody that's part of the network to connect and get the help that this person needs. Does she need a job? An extra mattress for kids?



Needs that don't seem huge to some, are life changing to others. It really puts people's needs in contact with those that can help in an instant, and it's amazing. It also sends updates to those that are sponsors to say: “Hey, this is how many people you help this month with your gift. This is who it helped, and this is how it helped.” It just builds that relationship with the donor by saying how what they’ve donated has helped in a direct way. It has been amazing to be a part of this, and watch the impact. I can't believe our company built that app. It's amazing.


Hayley:

Wow, that's really connecting people that need to be connected.


Tiara:

It wouldn't be possible without it, right? A lot of times, people in this situation are on a time crunch. They could lose their kids, when really all they need is a little bit of help. So in an instant, we can get that out there on the app. We can get the help you need. There's not that lag of sending an email out to see who can help. It's just in an instant, and it's amazing to see not only on the side that we built the app, it's amazing to see how humanity works. Hayley: How’s that? Tiara: Like, how many people want to help. You always see bad news on the news and it can make you think this world is going to trash. But then you see the real response in a project like this. It’s a reminder that there are good people in this world. It's awesome.


Hayley:

That is so cool.

It sounds like you've got a really meaningful work environment. Are there any other values that you see displayed in the workplace that stick out to you?


Tiara:

Oh, my gosh, yes. We call them our core values, and we recite them to remind our employees every single time we have a company meeting once a week. Our COO wrote it, and I love it. They are: Be open, Be humble, Be discoverers, Daring ownership, and Think long term. We build the company around these because, as we always say, there are no egos here. We help each other. We don't use our knowledge against each other. Hayley: The learning curve must be steep in each department. That’s so important. Tiara: It is nerve wracking to work in a technical field, and I am on the marketing side, so I’m not a tech person at all. I need help with my email all the time, but I can go to our senior developers. They never answer like, “Oh my gosh, you're so dumb.” It's always like, “Yeah, what can I do?” Hayley: Wow. Tiara: I love that core value of “Be open.” Be open to ideas. Be open to a better way of doing something. Be open to, hey, I want to try it this way. Are you guys willing to do it? It is amazing to work with people who are always willing to try something different.


We are all a part of this company, and it's not our COO and CEO who are married. That's part of the company. It's not them trying to get rich, and we're all working for them. We are a team. When we have these huge projects, we build it together, we do things together, and it's the best environment to thrive in because everyone's open, everyone's humble, everyone wants to own the projects that we're doing.

Every day I wake up and I get to come to this job and I'm like, I cannot believe how lucky I am to work in this environment.


Hayley:

Like, you just said, you enjoy getting up, you enjoy going to this environment. What has led you to that place? How have you seen goodness in your year at the company?

Tiara:

Working with the nonprofits that we get to work with is so amazing. I could say a billion things about this company. I really could. It is not like anywhere I've ever worked before. I will say, not having any technical experience in working in this environment, I keep signing up for a team environment. Like, it just feels like I have purpose every single day when I come here. I am valued, I am wanted, I am listened to. You always hear people say things like: oh, with your job, don't invest too much into it because if you die tomorrow, they just replace you. But here, if somebody isn't feeling well and they're like, “Hey, I'm not going to be in at work.” There are 50 people asking: “What can we do to help you? Do you have clients that we need to talk to?” And it's not even like it's their job, but we thrive together. So if you are having a hard time, we're going to do this together.

I didn't even know companies like this existed, and I can't believe I'm lucky enough to work for this company. Because life happens. I have five kids. Our CEO started the company, and they have five kids. We have people with kids that are sick until they're sitting in their laps during our company meetings, and it's fine. It's okay that life happened. I feel like that is so undervalued at a lot of companies. Hayley: Is there a specific time this has really stuck out to you? Tiara: My first week when I started, somebody reached out to the team to let them know that they would be late getting in because their fridge went out, and they had to pull out everything. In response, there were ten people right away offering: “I have an extra cooler,” “I have room in my fridge,” “Do you want me to come and help? Do you need help?” It is such a loving environment and not being forced to do it, but because this person matters and I want what's best for them.


Hayley:

So there’s a sense of ownership in everything, not just the work. Tiara: It's that daring ownership of: if this company is going to grow, we're going to grow together. If we're going to succeed, we're all going to succeed together. Every single day, I feel valued no matter what I'm doing—and I don't even write the code that devs do. I don't work with the clients directly, but I feel so valued by our CEO or senior developers. They give me great feedback. They tell me that I’m absolutely right when I direct the team that we need to grow our blog.


Hayley: Sure.

Tiara: They may not know the ins and outs of it, but they say: What can we do for you? How can we help you? How can we support you? It’s a team environment.


Hayley:

You know, I have to ask. Is there any reason for the koala? Because I love koalas, and really love the logo.


Tiara:

Yes! Oh, my God. That's such a great question, right? Because why Code Koalas? In my very first interview with the CEO of the company, when she asked me if I had any questions, I asked the same thing: why a Koala? She said, oh my gosh, let me tell you the story.

So Jennifer and her husband, Ryan, the CEO of Code Koalas, started this company out of their basement eleven years ago. Their daughter was about four, she was young and she had a little stuffed Koala she would bring downstairs. One day while they were both working, she said, “This is our first employee, my friend works code for the company.” Then it just became a thing. So now we have a stuffed koala at the office that we can go to and everything we do has a Koala and I just think it's amazing that one, they worked their butts off and made this company a huge success from their basement. And two, they did it while they're being parents, and while they had other jobs.


That is why we always have a stuffed koala in the office, and when we have new clients, we give them a plush koala as part of our welcome. Just because it's such a big part of what they've done. It shows you can build something and keep your values at the center the whole time.

Keep up with the latest from Code Koalas on their website and Instagram.

All media originally published by Code Koalas via their online platforms.


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