Company Name：StreetAcademy, Inc.
Interviewees：CTO Mr.Toru Kitagawa, Engineer Mr.Hiroya Shimamoto, Engineer Mr.Toru Fukui
Providing new opportunities for teaching and learning freely
StreetAcademy is, so to say, a "market of learning". We provide a CtoC service to bring people who want to learn and people who want to teach together. Schools up until now were hard to start taking part in, usually having an admission fee, and had constraints such as having to attend them for a certain period of time. Despite this, there are times when you think things like "I can generally cook decently, but I want to specifically learn how to make tastier stewed dishes". At such times, our service makes it possible for you to learn what you want to learn spot on. In our service, there are not only teachers who teach as a job, but also active professionals still on the job. This is one of the points that differ from a normal school. As a service which handles "learning", something that is shapeless, we develop thinking about how to make the service easy for users to use, and how we can help discover potential desires of learning.
Development members with an emphasis on story, supporting the service with a small number
In our current development, there are 3 members who commit full time, some other members who come to work several times a week, and some other members who work completely remotely... Practically, development is done by about 3~4 engineers. For a service with around a hundred thousand users, it may sound very little. What we aim for is not a top-down team development team, but a development team with an emphasis on story, where each individual understands the context. To make this come true, close communication as a team, regardless of whether inside or outside the office, is essential. So, we actively engage in offline communication like going to lunch together, not to mention online communication on Slack.
SideCI becoming a "yardstick" for members with different programming language experience
This may be a typical story among startup companies, but as no one in the development team hadn't been with the company from the establishment, everyone had to start from understanding the existing codes. On top of that, everyone had different programming language experiences. That was all more the reason we wanted some kind of "yardstick", and wanted to create a reviewing culture so that we can compliment each other. Revamping would take extra man-hours if everyone checks their own code individually and releases them, structures and code styles being completely different. A word about SideCI popped up as we were having such a conversation in our team meeting. Our first impression on trying it out was: simple and easy. We tried some other similar tools, but SideCI's management screen was the easiest to see. On top of that, compatible with Japanese, and only took 10 minutes to introduce. We're very particular about "usability" and "easy understanding" in our development, so we might not have started using it if was complicated to use, however good the functions are. I mean, users of such tools want to organize and keep clean their complex codes, and if solving that requires complex operations, you wouldn't want to use it in the first place, would you? (laughs) In actually using SideCI, it really suited our every need. It was very convenient, able to be configured in a nice granularity.
And a big result in introducing was that a ground for discussion was born, SideCI acting as a "yardstick" with a decent consistency in indications. Usually, in implementing and designing in the development site, we tend to follow the opinions of the person who has the best knowledge, but since SideCI is a third-party presence, not belonging to the team, everyone can state their opinions equally based on SideCI's indications. I think this tool contributes greatly to the creation of such a culture.
SideCI also giving opportunities to learn Ruby in more depth
As I said before, our team is a group of engineers who have been working with a variety of programming languages. So, in writing programs with Rails, there are times when opinions divide on what is the best way. The indications from SideCI, which are from a general point of view, provides good opportunities to extend our knowledge. For example, we can learn about ways of writing and thinking refined through many discussions by looking at the indications concerning Rails Best Practices and standard ways of writing Rails. We, who provide opportunities for learning, unsurprisingly love learning. In that sense, SideCI provides great opportunities for learning while actually making use of it.
Enriching StreetAcademy users' lives
Our current goals are to put an effort in the android version of our app and making StreetAcademy a "service to make learning even more fun", but in the future, we want to try visualizing interests and skills, since we've accumulated interesting data about "people's desire to study". Becoming aware of "what one want to do" and "what one can do" may make it able for us to make suggestions like "there are paths like this to take in life" and "this job is well suited for you". In Japan, it's still hard to shift your career like "I've been a salesman, but I've always wanted to be a movie director", but we're putting effort so that users can make their lives richer by trying "what they wanted to do" with our service.
Also, StreetAcademy Kansai Region has only kicked off the other day, but we aim that everyone, from small towns and whole regions to cities and the entire Japan, can use it. And even more, overseas! The service is growing steadily, but there's still much more potential. We're going to be put to the test.