Working at a startup can be a unique experience. Startup founders expect more of their employees who often work on every aspect of developing a new company. Because creativity and innovation help grow a new business, startup employees often have opportunities to try new approaches and learn the most current skills.
SABJ partners with Quantum Workplace to survey employees at nominated companies, which must have at least 10 full-time employees based in the Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Wilson, Atascosa, Bandera, or Kendall counties to be eligible for inclusion on the list. Companies are grouped by size. The two startups placed in the category for small companies with up to 49 employees.
Quantum Workplace surveys employees, asking 30 questions about workplace conditions, then sends the results to SABJ to create the list of finalists. The winners in each company size category will be announced at a SABJ event July 18.
Startups San Antonio caught up with both to learn why employees would find these companies a great place to work.
Plus One Robotics
Plus One Robotics founder Erik Nieves is busy planning the company’s relocation from its crammed 4,500 square foot warehouse to a much larger 10,000 square foot one at Port San Antonio. The robotics company needs the space to accommodate its rapid growth.
“We have robots crawling all over each other in our old space so we’re looking forward to moving into our larger warehouse at the Port,” Nieves said.
The San Antonio startup is a world-class leader in developing artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D-camera vision sensor technology that gives industrial robots the ability to learn and adapt in the fast-paced environment of warehouse and manufacturing operations. Plus One Robotics’ AI can learn from experience and works with almost all major types of industrial robots in use.
Nieves worked for robotic arm manufacturer Yaskawa Motoman for more than two decades. He joined two former Southwest Research Institute automation engineers, Paul Hvass and Shaun Edwards, to launch the robotics company in 2016. The startup has raised nearly $11 million from investors to date.
This is the first time the startup has appeared on the best places to work list. The company has been steadily hiring engineers to fulfill orders from global clients. The employees and group of four summer interns also keep busy with research and development of Plus One’s next iteration of robotic applications, Nieves told Startups San Antonio. It’s that exciting prospect of working on cutting-edge technologies that typically attracts candidates to Plus One.
“We sit at the intersection of cloud computing, robotics, and AI,” Nieves said. “When you take our tech stack and put it into an industry as compelling as e-commerce, people are motivated.”
The company has about 27 employees ranging from robot crew chiefs to artificial intelligence scientists. Plus One is hiring four or five more, particularly those skilled in business development. The new sales, marketing, and web development staff will help the startup with the demand for its robotics software used by industrial, logistics and e-commerce companies globally.
Most recently, Plus One has garnered attention for the release of its subscription service called Yonder. Plus One can sell a client its equipment to operate themselves, or they can buy a subscription giving Plus One the ability to operate and supervise a client’s robotic workforce remotely via the internet.
“Yonder is the robotic autonomy piece of what we do, the ‘human in the loop’ who can control the robot over the internet in an easy and secure manner,” Nieves said.
Cognitive robotics is a rapidly evolving field of technology in which robots learn from experience, from human teachers, and even on their own, developing the ability to adapt to their environment. Nieves speaks at conferences such as the Amazon re:MARS conference being held in Las Vegas next week about how human and robots can work together for enhanced cognitive collaboration. His talk will focus on what he sees in the next 10 years of human-robot interaction.
“The people who do well at Plus One are the ones who share our fundamental ambition to will something that has never been into existence,” Nieves said.
Codeup is an immersive 20-week, in-person tech career accelerator in San Antonio. Its staff of 20, a network of interested employers, and community partnerships help students land an entry-level position in software development and data science. In response to growing demand from employers, Codeup launched its newest program in data science earlier in 2019. The first cohort graduates June 14 with the second class slated to begin in July.
Michael Girdley, Chris Turner, and Jason Straughan launched the company in 2013 to help meet the need for trained web developers in San Antonio. More than 400 people have graduated from Codeup’s first boot camp in full-stack web development to date. About 80 percent of Codeup graduates have found relevant employment within six months, and the company will guarantee its tuition cost to those who do not find a job within that period. Graduates have gone on to work for established companies like USAA, Accenture, H-E-B, Oracle, as well as for startups like Brokerage Engine.
“This is the third time Codeup has been a finalist as the best place to work,” said Liz Maya, who joined Codeup in May as its new chief operations officer. “The first year, we were fifth, last year we were seventh and we are hopeful to break the top five again this year.”
Previously, Maya served 14 years at Rackspace and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The University of Texas at San Antonio.
Over the past year, Codeup has focused on linking the “right people in the right seats” so that employees feel more empowered to help students reach their career goals. The company will announce “some other exciting opportunities later in the year,” Maya said.
The most recent group of data science students have been learning Python, SQL, machine learning and other skills to influence and support data-driven decisions across any organization, Maya said. Codeup is also hiring instructors for both its web development and data science classes.
“I think Codeup is on the list again because our whole team has a clear, unified vision of where we are going, and we are all in it together,” Maya said. “We are more cohesive and transparent than ever before and we all stand behind our purpose as a company: to empower life change.”