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Coding-escape: a remote-first company gathers in Las Vegas

Read Time 9 mins | Written by: Cole

Coding-escape Las Vegas: a remote-first company comes together

It’s been almost two months since the first annual Coding-escape in Las Vegas. After years of building software and a strong company culture remotely, Codingscape gathered in real life for the first time. We ate delicious food together, learned more about each other’s lives, co-worked, and experienced the local favorites of downtown Las Vegas.

Coding-escape dinner at peyote

Here are some of the highlights of Coding-escape and what we learned.

From Slack avatars to actual faces

Coding-escape slack avatars to faces

Codingscape is a 70-person company now – we’ve come a long way from employee #1 (Jen!). Walking into real rooms and seeing the actual faces behind Slack avatars was surreal. People we had only known through messages and video calls were suddenly standing right in front of us, and it was awesome.

One big Slack-to-real-life story happened in marketing. Gabe and Cole have known each other for over 10 years but never met in person. Codingscape is their third company working together and Coding-escape was the first time they ever met in real life.

Photos from the first night’s dinner and costume party at Cornish Pasty Co and Silver Stamp are elusive. Everyone was having too much fun to use their phones. But we know there was a real-life Elvis sighting (Noel Hurst), Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Pawel) showed up ready to party, and fun was had by all.

Coding-escape silver stamp photo booth

But not too much fun. The next day was stacked with talks, group activities, more tasty meals, and afternoon practice sessions.

Conference day at Innovation Center

Coding-escape conference day Vegas innovation

Breakfast and coffee started the morning at the International Innovation Center. There was decaf, but CTO Jimmy Jacobson managed to avoid the hazard and get up to present on the history of Codingscape. With the microphone wire precariously balanced, Jimmy showed us some great visuals of how Codingscape started out.

We learned about the origins of the company, some of the key projects along the way, and when everything accelerated thanks to a new approach to product management. After that, we got a look at the key initiatives and projects happening across the company. 

People @ Codingscape

Jimmy and Lauren present people @ Codingscape

Jimmy and Lauren have been hard at work creating a framework for people at Codingscape. Codingscape is a complex ecosystem of skills, roles, and expertise, so our people need a unique approach to managing growth. This framework isn’t your standard 1-on-1 performance review structure other companies use. It maps pathways for everyone to learn from each other and develop skills over time.

Goals of People @ Codingscape

  • Elevate and amplify our people, skills, and expertise
  • Provide feedback, transparency, and level-setting
  • Cultivate and nurture high-performance culture and teams

Reach out to Jimmy or Lauren on Slack if you have questions. If you’re not on the Codingscape team and want to know more about performance management and growth at a remote-first company, send us an email.

Codingscape account management

Noel presents account management at Codingscape

None of Codingscape’s technical work would be possible without all the hard work in accounts. Account Management is where Statements of Work (SOWs), partner communications, invoicing, burndowns, and budgets all come from. Thanks Noel and the accounts team! 

Account Management @ Codingscape

  • Responsible for effectively delivering SOWs in collaboration with a product manager and engineering team
  • Accomplish client objectives by aligning budgets, outcomes, and timelines with Codingscape’s services, resources, and team
  • Contact for referrals and warm leads

If you have ideas about new tech for our partners, questions about how to communicate with a client, or think someone needs a SOW, reach out to Noel. If you’re a Codingscape employee, we have a great referral program if you find new partners. Ask Noel about the details!

Codingscape marketing 

Gabe presents marketing at Codingscape

2023 was the first big push into marketing at Codingscape. Gabe Shepherd (Head of Marketing) presented the wins of the small, scrappy team. They took the website from early 2000’s retro to a new design with weekly content backed by automated marketing ops and focused ad campaigns. Now we’ve got ICPs, personas, and a buyer’s journey mapped to build out a global brand at Codingscape.

Marketing @ Codingscape in 2024

  • Big push into industry conferences, events, and speaking
  • Updated website hierarchy, industry landing pages, and direct comparisons to show how we stack against competitors
  • More curated content from team members

Marketing is taking submissions for the blog if you want to write about topics you care about. Zachary recently published some of his amazing research on DINOv2. Reach out to Cole Lehman on Slack if you’re interested in sharing your work or thoughts.

Codingscape product practice

Kim presents product practices at Codingscape

One of the cornerstones of Codingscape is our thriving product practice. Kim Sullivan (Head of Product & Design) has been organizing these and the whole team contributes to make them impactful and helpful in our daily client-facing roles.

When we’re not going through internal product case studies, we have external speakers who’ve worked at Airbnb, Google, Stripe, and Youtube come in and talk about building products. Our partners even want invites to our practices. 

Product & Design Practices @ Codingscape

  • Regular AI product deep dives
  • External speakers & workshops
  • Internal case studies, covering product & client challenges

If you’re already part of the product practice you can use the Notion and Slack resources to contribute. If you’re not a part of them and want to be, reach out to Kim.

Practices for technology @ Codingscape

Pawel presents technology practices at Codingscape

Product practices are a model for how we can come together in different areas of expertise to share knowledge and grow together – e.g. AI, frameworks, new programming languages, etc.. Pawel Szymczykowski (Partner and Head of Technology) introduced how we can expand practices to specific technologies and gave senior software engineers some time to ask questions.

Technology @ Codingscape

  • AI technology practice has already been established
  • New self-organizing practice meetings started @Coding-escape for: Front End, Back End, and Mobile
  • Opportunities for senior software engineers to grow their technical skills, discuss new technologies and practices, reach out for support, share knowledge to reduce duplication of effort

Reach out to Pawel if you want to talk about specific technology practices at Codingscape.

Future of Codingscape

Porter presents future at Codingscape

To close out the presentations, CEO Porter Haney (aka the Anti-Hustle CEO) gave us a look at the future of Codingscape. The main priority? Continue to build a sustainable and durable company that can navigate any market conditions. How do we do that? By helping our partners with technical solutions better than anyone else can – especially the big consulting companies. 

Future @ Codingscape

  • Every company is a software company and needs our skills
  • We grow by helping partners solve technical problems better than anyone else 
  • Our company culture prioritizes quality of life so Codingscape can do amazing work

Maintaining our remote-first culture where everyone at Codingscape gets to prioritize their quality of life is key to our success and growth. Keep an eye out for a company update from Porter sometime in the new year.

“I really liked hearing Noel and Porter discuss the durability and future of Codingscape. It further solidified my desire to want to work here.”  - Brandon M.

Stories and swag

Stories and swag at Coding-escape

In between all the presentations, Lauren organized a group storytelling activity. We got together in groups of four and learned about each other's lives, families, travels, and passions.

“I just loved learning about all my different co-workers - there is a wonderful amount of talent and interesting backgrounds within the company.” -James Cole

Eventually we broke out into afternoon practice sessions, with Shep leading the way in the AI practice. Developers who’ve spent countless hours collaborating on complex projects online got to whiteboard problems, bounce ideas off each other, and solve challenges in real-time. 

We also got some amazing swag – custom Cotopaxi bags.

“I LOVE this backpack so much - it's deceptively sleek but holds all my things (even my second monitor). THANK YOU!! And shout out to Kelly Keen for the awesome swag and wonderful event.“

-Noel Hurst

Speaking of Kelly, you might know Kelly as “the hours lady” but she does a whole lot more than that. Including putting this whole onsite together. Make sure to thank her and … put in those hours!

Dinner at Peyote and the future of Codingscape

Peyote magician wows engineers at Coding-escape

What happens when you put a Vegas magician in front of a bunch of software engineers? High levels of skepticism, surprise, and lots of laughs. We were lucky to get Paul Vigil, a highly sought after Las Vegas magician. He was up to the challenge and his rope and egg tricks had some senior software engineers questioning whether or not they believe in magic.

As dinner wound down, it felt obvious that our first Coding-escape was a success. It strengthened our connections with each other, boosted our creativity, instilled faith in the company, and solidified our culture. We're excited for the future at Codingscape and our remote-first culture will continue to be a source of strength.

“EXCELLENT – never enough time, really, but also perfect balance for people's attention spans, life balance, casual interaction, work interaction. WONDERFUL job!” - Lauren

If you're a remote-first company who’s not sure an onsite is worth it, it totally is. 

Here are some key takeaways from our experience:

  • Planning is key: Make sure to plan your onsite carefully to ensure it's productive and enjoyable for everyone.
  • Set clear expectations: Communicate the purpose of the onsite and what attendees can expect.
  • Create a welcoming environment: Make sure everyone feels comfortable and included.
  • Focus on team building: Plan activities that will help team members get to know each other better.
  • Be flexible: Allow for some unstructured time so people can connect and socialize on their own.
  • Attendee survey: After the meeting, be sure to follow up with attendees and get their feedback.

See you next time at Coding-escape! Cancun anyone? 

Coding-escape next year!


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Cole is Codingscape's Content Marketing Strategist & Copywriter.