TechTalk with Sinead Ryan from Evolv

Impressing and retaining customers today is challenging yet achievable by delivering a customized and timely user experience. Therefore, companies are rethinking their UX/CX strategies and approaches to leveraging customer data. Although most companies realize what needs to be done, only 17% report successfully implementing user data and adjusting to customer needs in real time. Technology, processes, and people must work together to achieve success. It seems that Evolv AI manages to bring all this magic together.

What is Evolv?

Evolv AI solutions help businesses analyze and improve customer experience in real time, resulting in better performances, higher conversion rates, and higher customer retention rates.

Through their machine learning algorithms and statistical models, they gain an in-depth understanding of online user behavior in real time. This data combined with the AI-based technologies are then used to launch multiple UX experiments, aimed at predicting the best-performing combinations. With detailed statistics on each combination, clients can easily see which UX changes contribute to the target KPI.

Evolv can manage all digital touchpoints in the customer journey, including web, mobile, and social media, while keeping up with the ever-changing customer and market demands.

Redwerk Contribution to Evolv

Founded in 2019, Evolv is the result of a technology spin-off from Sentient Technologies, which spent the better part of the decade as an AI research and development company. Initially, we worked with Sentient Technologies and then progressed to working with Evolv.

At first, we were assigned tasks related to coding UX improvements designed by Evolv’s growth team.

However, having witnessed our commitment to the process and their products, Evolv expanded the scope of Redwerk’s services, delegating us to develop its core product – the optimization platform.

Currently, Redwerk’s delivery team is focused on continuous upgrades to Evolv’s platform and frontend improvements.

Meet Sinead!

We invited Sinéad Ryan, head of Global Services at Evolv – a company that has been a loyal partner during peacetime and wartime.

In our interview, we discussed their innovative AI solution, their diverse team, and how they overcame challenges related to COVID. Our conversation also touched on the growing number of women in the tech industry and how young people should handle their careers today.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

— Please introduce yourself.

— My name is Sinéad Ryan. I’m head of Global Services at Evolv AI. My primary responsibilities are to manage a professional services team across North America and EMEA. So, I’m responsible for both regions. I manage a professional services team: principal consultants, strategists, solution engineers, and a design, build and test team which we run out of Ukraine with Redwerk. Thank you very much!

And with another company in Argentina. So, a massive global presence with HQ in San Francisco. But we have a head office here in Europe, Dublin, Ireland, and we’re growing that team out over the next year.

— Are women still underrepresented in tech?

— Yes, but it’s definitely changing. You know, Vodafone is a large mobile operator, and in Ireland, the CEO of Vodafone is a female, and she made a distinct decision. I don’t always agree with this, but she made a decision to make her entire management team all-female. In Ireland, we are noticing that a lot of CEOs are now female roles, and that’s definitely changing. There’s been a big shift change in the past five years, so we’re getting to see more female representation.

It’s not that it’s equal just as yet in terms of salary. There is definitely still a pay gap, and while we see more representation from some C-suite level, we’re starting to see more young girls getting interested in STEM in particular. And studying it in school and doing quite well, actually.

— Why did you choose to work at Evolv?

— Yes, so they found me through a recruitment round. I did my panel interview with the CTO and his team, and I chose the job at Evolv ahead of other offers because I really liked the people and that was a big decision-maker for me. I liked how they got together, how they worked together even though they’re a small company.

In my career, I’ve always liked building things from scratch and building something up. So, either building a team or a product or a solution. I like Evolv because they’re building a company, and it’s a really good one, and it’s the people that keep me here and, you know, make it a nice place for me to work.

— How does the Evolv solution work?

— We provide optimization on the frontend of our customers, whether that’s their website or mobile applications. We’re not an A/B testing company. We provide optimization for testing, but the key part of our solution is in the backend, it’s in the AI machine learning engine. So, instead of doing standard A/B testing where you root traffic like on an A test or a B test, we actually, based on user behavior, spin up permutations of experiences based on the data that we’re feeding into that platform. So, based on user behavior.

Depending on how users behave when they want to purchase something online, we can fire events off each part of that user journey, and we track those events, and then we pull new ideas into the population of the optimization which we’re running. And we spin up multiple different experiences based on the behavior.

That data then goes back into the AI machine learning engine again and then, based on that user behavior, we’re seeing an experience that is better for the end user and for the customer.

— What’s the situation with startup funding?

— At the moment, with the market trends, we’re seeing a global downturn. I suppose we’re at this stage where we would be doing series B, but we’re just playing, we don’t really need the funding right now. Now we’ve got cash flow, and so we’re holding out on this because, you know, I think the options out there are limited right now, and so everyone is doing it just to wait and see how things pan out.

But with the type of product and solution that we offer, we tend to do well in a global downturn because companies will look for something – a solution or part of that faster, cheaper, and as they start to maybe downsize their businesses a little bit, we will find that more often they will come to the company like Evolv than they would go to somebody else.

— Did the pandemic influence Evolv?

— Oh yes, definitely. I feel like again, you know, get back to my point on the people at Evolv and the relationships they have with each other. It was definitely difficult. More difficult than it should have been to meet in person. I think I’d been at Evolv for over a year. I’ve been for about 6 months before I met the first person, which was Phyllis, who arrived in Ireland to help us build out the Irish team. And yeah, but I’d only met her the first time.

And then our CTO came over last year and then we went into lockdown again. So I got out to San Francisco for the first time in March of this year to get to meet people in person. And I think it’s hugely important that people get together to problem-solve. I feel that they problem-solve better in person than online. To get around a whiteboard, have a chat and, you know, shoot the breeze about ideas and be more innovative, I feel that it’s easier to do that in person.

But then on the upside, we’ve got a lot of work done, we are very productive online. We also, at Evolv, have a very flexible way of working, so people can take time out that they need to work later if they want to and work earlier if they need to. So, and definitely a flexible way of working and a hybrid way of working.

So, most of our employees work remotely anyway. We have employees right across North America and all different states; even in Ireland, we have people working in Dublin and on down the country. So a lot of people made the decision during the pandemic to leave cities and move where the rent is cheaper because rent is very expensive here in Dublin.

And lots of people made the decision to move down the country to the countryside and work from home and have a better work-life balance, which we definitely support here at Evolv as well.

— What are the pros and cons of a distributed team?

— I definitely think the other thing that I like about Evolv is our diversity. We have a big diversity initiative around DEI so, diversity, equity and inclusion.

And the company had originally spun out of San Francisco. And, you know, with most technology companies and mostly male, mostly white, we’ve definitely made huge steps even with bringing on the Ireland team. We have an Iranian guy who started in Ireland. We have a girl originally from Nigeria and we have a good four or five employees that are originally from India.

So, over the past year during our hiring process, we definitely made an effort to hire people from all backgrounds, cultures, religions, even people with disabilities. It is very key to what we do. And so being able to provide wheelchair access in all our offices is usually important. And so really we go for the smart and kind people – that’s what we look for; but other than that, you know, we try to be as diverse as we can be. So, that’s the positive side of it because then you get more reach, you can hire from anywhere in the world. And the downside of it, I would say having a distributed team is, you know, with every company you have challenges and teams really working in silos together.

The challenges we had with Redwerk last year where, you know, our teams are firing stuff over the fence at another team, and it’s kind of half-baked, and instead of handing something over that’s workable with and then vice versa. So, then you get this kind of sometimes that happens instead of handshakes that have been a challenge.

And I think that’s one challenge of all distributed teams where you’re trying to not have a team to work in silos so much but work together, respect each other and make sure those handshakes are what they should be, yeah.

— Name a thought leader worth following on LinkedIn.

— There’s a good LinkedIn thread. It’s also on Facebook. It’s called a female lead. I don’t know if you follow that.

It’s not a particular person, but it’s a group on LinkedIn and social media called “the female lead”. And what they pull in is a good context on, you know, female leaders from the past and women who’ve contributed a lot to the world through either writing or acting, from all parts or all professions, even from science.

And they are a good group to follow because it’s not often that women are promoted like that and it tends to be mostly male. And I feel like that’s a good group to follow because it brings in previous females who were in a leadership role or contributed to a society that you wouldn’t normally hear about. They are not one particular person, but that group is actually a good one.

— Any tips for aspiring tech leaders?

— You know, leadership to me is to lead by example. And so, you know, that classic picture of a mother duck or a mother hen and all the chicks just following her and copying what she does. I feel like that kind of my idea of leadership, in that you teach by example and then people learn and that’s how they follow. That’s my belief, anyway. If you’re doing something good and useful and meaningful and somebody sees that and typically they will follow. It’s when you’re doing something that’s not meaningful, and not maybe a good way of working, people are less likely to follow your lead.

— Any words of inspiration for tech career pursuers?

— I think any young person should do something that they’re passionate about, first of all. Right. So, whether it’s technology or anything, just find something that you’re passionate about because that will always then mean that you’re never really working. You’re always doing something that you like doing, that you enjoy doing. And so then when you go to learn about it or train up on it, you won’t feel like it’s a task force or a chore. But definitely always do something that you’re passionate about.

Work With Ukraine

Evolv has been working with us for over two years before the 24th of February 2022 and over eight months during the ongoing war. In this period, we never slowed down or missed a deadline.

Therefore, if you are looking for ways to strengthen your delivery team, speed up software releases, and improve product quality, we encourage you to hire a Ukrainian-based IT services company. Despite electricity outages, Ukrainians keep delivering, working from spaces equipped with generators and Starlink terminals. During this war, Ukrainians have proven that there is nothing they cannot overcome.

Right now, Ukrainians are even more devoted to work processes as a way to distract themselves from the news. Additionally, you will contribute to Ukraine’s economic development, which is much needed right now.

Employing a Ukrainian IT vendor also means supporting local communities that rely on businesses like Redwerk for job creation, volunteer work, and charitable donations.

Stand with Ukraine by working with Ukraine!

See how we helped Evolv rearchitect their AI-driven platform

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