PAX is a leading consumer technology company that designs and manufactures premium vaporizers for safe and responsible consumption of legal cannabis. PAX devices are compatible with the PAX Mobile App that allows consumers to bring control, predictability, and simplicity to their cannabis rituals.
Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
Customer Comes First
All actions and decisions put the best interests of our customers first.
PAX serves two sets of customers: end users and Brand Partners, who are licensed cannabis oil manufacturers. The end users utilize our vaporizer hardware and software. When it comes to designing products for them, our Product team sets priorities and serves as the voice of the customer for our Hardware Engineering team. In the development process, we treat the health and safety of our end users with utmost importance and seriousness.
The second set of customers, Brand Partners, fill Era pods for sale in the dispensary channel in states where cannabis is legal. Some of our current Brand Partners include Jetty, Heavy Hitters, Heylo, Island, Happy Sticks, and Blue River, to name a few. We interact with our Brand Partners on a daily basis and our entire goal is to implement better programs and communication in order to help them operate more effectively. You can only build customer-first products if you are aligned with your customer’s pain points.
Our Software teams also serve multiple customers, both internal and external. In addition to building products for our end users and Brand Partners, we create products to support the other teams at PAX, such as analytic dashboards and testing harnesses for firmware.
When it comes to PAX user data, we maintain a Customer Comes First philosophy. Cannabis use is still a sensitive topic for many of our users, so we take privacy very seriously. We aggregate and anonymize device data in such a way that it isn’t matchable to a specific user. We also believe data should be of mutual benefit to our customers, and we have a fair trade mentality - we don’t just take customer data by default.
Engineering decisions aren’t opinion-based.
If we don’t have a way to measure something, we focus on finding a solution instead of deciding that data collection is too difficult to do. Once we’ve collected data, we discuss (and sometimes debate) its value and then use it to optimize our path forward. For example, if we are evaluating whether or not to lock down temperature ranges, we test those systems in different temperature environments to verify effectiveness before we move forward instead of taking a “this should work” approach.
We have a new “Cannalytics” team at PAX that lead our data-driven approach across all functions. Data is a core part of the feedback loop for both our Hardware and Software Engineering teams. We’re able to look at event data from our devices to understand different use cases and emergent behavior. These insights enable us to improve our existing products and create new products and features that are most valuable to our customers.
Additionally, on the Partner Operations team, we administer a series of surveys for all of our Brand Partners. This allows us to collect data points on pod production and capture the information in Salesforce. As a result, it’s incredibly easy for us to generate reports that help inform data-driven initiatives. We collect data such as units produced per hour, equipment failures, and viscosity readings. This helps inform PAX on how to create solutions, and efficiencies for partners.
We’re better together.
Every person at PAX was hired because of their expertise, skill, and/or life experiences, which means every individual here has a valuable contribution to each conversation. We believe the more insight we have into what other teams are doing empowers us as a whole. To that end, the Software team is interconnected with every other team at PAX on some level. We rely on the expertise from teams including Product Management, Analytics, Firmware, Marketing, Customer Service and Partner Operations to learn how they define excellence and distill solutions that provide the best service to all.
While we lean on both Slack and email to stay connected, we are aware of our language, tone, and delivery style for those forms of communication. When it comes to problem solving, we’re heavily biased towards face-to-face collaboration: sitting next to someone and working together until the problem is solved - we believe that’s the best way to get it done. Our Product and Engineering teams work together to set priorities so they know when they can bank on each other's time.
Our Hardware and Manufacturing Engineering teams rely on strong collaboration as well. They work together with our vendors and Contract Manufacturers. Engineering focuses on the more technical side, and they rely heavily on Global Supply to understand cost, schedules, planning, and trade-offs. Since our teams are still relatively small, members of Hardware and Global Supply are in nearly every meeting together.
Creative + Innovative
Prototyping is an invaluable part of our creative and engineering processes.
We’re not afraid to spend time exploring ideas that may not pan out, because we know that every idea that doesn’t make it to production is a learning opportunity that informs our future decisions. For example, on the Mobile team, we try out different designs for the app and test out experimental features to see what people think. Or when building software, we might spend a day or two exploring a new idea or technique but end up going a different route.
It’s also important that team members exercise their creativity in troubleshooting issues. We have to get very creative to solve problems quickly for our Partners, since their ability to get production back up and running often relies on our team jumping into action and coming up with smart fixes. Like most startups, we identify as being small, scrappy, and agile. While our resources are limited, we never allow that to be an excuse for un-scalable work.
We’re able to stay nimble and innovative since our Hardware Engineering team has many resources for prototyping at all different levels of fidelity. We can get 3D prints within one day, machine parts in 3-5 days, and soft-tooling within 2 weeks. While our product development process is similar to other consumer electronics companies, we have a few additional layers to consider. For instance, most consumer electronics need sealing to keep liquid out - we need to design for sealing a liquid in (i.e. different types of cannabis oil). This is an example of a unique challenge we get to work on at PAX.
Actively Practices Inclusion
In order to support a diverse and inclusive workforce, we’ve implemented unconscious bias training; created pipelines within underrepresented communities in tech; and developed our "DIP" group – Diversity & Inclusion at PAX.
We know diverse perspectives in the decision making process yield better decisions, and are proud to be fully committed to diversity and inclusion efforts in 2019 and beyond. We’ve restructured our interview process to ensure diverse representation on panels, and are actively sourcing from more diverse candidate pools. Of course, diversity and inclusion only begin with hiring.
Our entire company took unconscious bias training in Q2. We also are working to provide continued education, conferences, and external resources so we can become better teammates for one another and build a better work environment for everyone. We currently have a flat organization, which makes it easy for everyone’s voice to be heard, and we want to maintain how positive and inclusive we are as we scale.
We come from a wide range of backgrounds: some of us grew up in cities, others in middle America, others on the other side of the globe, and some on army bases. We represent multiple nationalities and have joined PAX with different educational and work histories. We have engineers earlier in their careers transitioning into consumer electronics for the first time, while other engineers have shipped millions of units at dozens of companies in the past. We have benefited greatly from having so many different viewpoints because we are building a product for a large consumer audience.
In case you were wondering, you do not have to be a cannabis user to work at PAX! In fact, we’ve found non-cannabis users tend to have a less biased view of our software stack and product decisions, and can ask questions that non- and new users of cannabis are wondering. No matter what your background, upbringing, or experience is, we celebrate our differences.
EQ > IQ
Empathy is at the core of our working relationships.
Having EQ (emotional intelligence) means having the ability to recognize your own emotions and the emotions of others, and knowing how to decipher those accurately, compassionately, and with understanding. This is critical as we work to maintain relationships with our teammates and our external partners. It is these relationships that lead to building great products.
For Engineers, when it comes to code, we always remember that we are not our code. We remember this during code reviews so the focus is on the code itself rather than on the person who created it. This allows us to have a positive review culture where feedback is relevant, constructive, readily given, and well-received. We ask questions rather than making demands, and when we are the authors of the code being reviewed, we provide sufficient context for the reviewer to be able to ask the right questions. Through code reviews we get functional feedback and it’s a process we repeat continuously. Because we are in constant communication with each other, there’s no waiting around for a review cycle - it’s happening all the time and is fundamental to the way we foster open dialogue with one another.
In our interview process, we assess candidates for not only their skillset, but also for evidence of our eight cultural norms which include “Lead with Humility” and “Keep it Real”. Our norms guide how we treat each other every day, and empathy is at the foundation of them all. It’s critical that we screen for our norms during the interview process so we can bring on new teammates that will add to and help perpetuate our culture founded on empathy, accountability and respect.
Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are the cornerstones for building highly functional, scalable, and quality software.
Our current process at PAX is as follows:
Engineers complete a task and submit a Pull Request on GitHub.
The Pull Request is then code reviewed by a peer.
Upon approval by the reviewer, the code is merged into the dev branch.
CircleCI (our CI tool) then compiles the code and runs Unit Tests.
If Unit Tests pass, then we run Integration Tests. If those pass, we run our QA Automation Tests.
This holds true for all development. We follow more Continuous Delivery on mobile (for obvious reasons) than on the backend/web side, which we manually push to the staging environment after tests pass, and then eventually to production. Our goal is to automate this process so that successful CircleCI builds, and tests initiate an automatic deploy to staging (this is real continuous deployment). Our secondary goal is to push code to production on a daily basis.
On the mobile side of software development, we do releases after every 2-week sprint, which means delivering updates to users on a bi-weekly cadence. Every two weeks, we push a new build. This creates a reliable system for our team and helps us guarantee we’re continually adding value for our users. We write really long roadmaps, so it requires us to hit all of the checkpoints along the way. A high level of trust is required since there are a lot of dependencies with software in order to continually deliver.
We value work/life balance at PAX.
There’s a level of flexibility where people can come in later and work later, and occasionally work from home. All we ask is that folks communicate with their teams about their schedule so there are no surprises. We also strongly encourage people to take vacations and to utilize their three floating holidays.
We “join up” to learn about each team member’s short- and long-term goals (both personal and professional).
Each quarter the Partner Operations team “joins up,” meaning each employee shares what they value outside of work. This includes their short- and long-term goals. We share our learnings with the rest of the company so everyone can understand what motivates and inspires each person at PAX. Not only does this help us get to know one another, but it creates an environment that recognizes the importance of work/life balance. When you love what you do, it’s very easy to get burnt out, and we often have to remind one another to pull back during slower times (for example, when we aren’t pushing a big release).
The Hardware and Global Supply teams travel to China frequently. These teams take advantage of having more flexible hours and occasional work from home days surrounding their travel dates. Team members across PAX are cognizant of the need to recover after traveling to China, and we all acknowledge and express appreciation for those who travel there frequently.
When it comes to work/life balance, the onus shouldn’t be on the individual. Everyone at PAX needs to respect everyone else’s time. Given that we have teams in different time zones and countries, we are always considerate of other people’s schedules. We are focused on output rather than optics (it doesn’t matter how many hours you’re physically sitting in the office), and because we are all in this together, we never leave anything on just one person’s plate. We love working at PAX and we’re all in it for the long run.
Customer Comes First
Creative + Innovative
Actively Practices Inclusion
EQ > IQ
1 Backend Engineer
2 Ecommerce Engineers
2 Full-Stack Engineers
26 Global Supply
28 Hardware Engineers
2 Infrastructure Engineers
4 Mobile Engineers
2 QA Engineers
3 weeks/15 days + 9 paid company holidays + 3 floating holidays to be used at any time
Cloud Foundry on AWS for hosting all servers, Akamai CDN, Java 8/Kotlin used on all backend services and APIs, RDS (AWS MySQL) used for account data storage, AWS S3 used for raw storage, RedShift used for analytics, React.js used for web based front end clients (including dashboards), Swift for iOS, Kotlin for Android, Python for Data Science
Candidates first speak with a member of the recruiting team, then have a longer phone interview with the hiring manager or senior team member diving deeper into experience, background, and technical skillset. Our final stage is an on-site interview where candidates meet 4-6 members of the team.