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Image credit: Danielle MacInnes
Author: Hanna Cevik
Publish Date: Mon Mar 02 2020

Doing Business in the Open

Many businesses set themselves up with the aim of 'making things better'. Senzo's version of making things better is based on empowering engineers with knowledge, creating communities of expertise and sharing best practice.

The sector we operate in is constantly evolving - there's so much that hasn't been solved for yet, and every day someone does something totally new and game-changing. The industry thrives on this, and equally on the generosity of the people doing this incredible work to share it in an open source, community-minded model.

When it came to setting up Senzo, both Ant and I had experience of working for businesses where the original aims had been overcome by the business of the day to day. We want to continue to be part of the community, learning ourselves and creating a more diverse and inclusive future for our sector.

Starting a new venture is scary - and this is the first time I've done this, so every day is slowed down by a learning curve that I haven't experienced for some time! We'd meet up to solve a conceptual level problem and end up spending 2 hours looking at budgets or figuring out how to operate in this weird Brexit-twilight.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed. So this week, we wrote down our values. This started as a conversation, moved into a note on notion.so and has ended up here, in our second ever blog post! We hope that by focusing on a set of values this early on in our journey, it'll provide a touchpoint in those moments when the day to day is still a lot. A LOT. As we grow, being this focused on the experience as a business will hopefully help us communicate how we want to operate to those we work with. And keep us kind to ourselves and each other. Always that.

I met Ant a couple of years ago, I was really impressed with his commitment to diversity and inclusion in the events and communities he was already involved with. He always had one eye on accessibility, financial inclusion, safe spaces, dedicated team members for people to connect with if they needed assistance or reassurance and codes of conduct that made it clear this was not a place where non-inclusive behaviour would be tolerated.

It isn't easy - there's always a perspective that you aren't aware of but is crucial to someone feeling they can join in, or a limitation to a venue or a format of delivering information that doesn't allow everyone to consume it in a way that works for them. But he was always trying, even when it meant it was harder or more expensive that it could have been - he was committed at the most sincere level.

After working with a team of awesome people who shared those goals on Serverless Days London in 2019, we realised that this was something we wanted to do full-time. We both left our salaried roles to start Senzo, so we knew it was real right from the off. This is why it's so important that we share these values with you, so you can help us do this right.

Senzo's values

  1. Be ethical

As a business, we can make decisions about how we operate that reduce our environmental and ethical impact on the planet and its people. We pay anyone who works with us the London Living Wage or more. We support carbon neutrality in our travel. Our events avoid using plastic wherever possible - including avoiding conference swag that isn't needed, useful or ethically sourced. Sorry swag-hunters.

  1. Work in the open

This means that we practice what we preach: all our code is open sourced and we use the technologies we run training in. The goal is to know the pain points our target audience might be experiencing, and to audit the courses we run. It also means that we will share our revenue model with our trainers, work with community groups in the sector to provide access to people who may not usually discover us, and work fairly with our trainers: after all, it's their time, effort and expertise.

  1. Empower people

At its heart, training is about giving people the tools to develop their skills and their career. Senzo is (of course) a for profit business - but at the core, our goal is to make it more possible for more people to gain expertise and experience. Our sector lags in terms of diversity - but things will not change if we don't work for that change. Senzo will always work to improve diversity and inclusivity in our setor; not limited to gender, race, education, religion, sexuality, age, physical or neuro- diversity, parental responsibilities.

  1. Stand up for our values

As we grow, we aim to speak about the journey we are on - sharing what it's like to start a business in post-Brexit Britain, whilst also having a young family, without a lot of money behind us, being a female Founder in the tech sector, working with a solid commitment to diversity & inclusion... and all the other things we believe are important as people and as a business.

Hanna