Founded in 2013 by a small group of ambitious engineers, the original Promptworks crew came up with a plan to design its culture the same way it designed software: custom.
Having worn nearly every hat in the tech industry collectively, the team set out to create the company they’d always wanted to work for, with a culture that respected the work of each and every contributor.
Today, using techniques like pair programming, Promptworks has enabled its highly-skilled engineers and designers to efficiently share knowledge and build high-value software products simultaneously. Combining its uniquely collaborative work style with perks such as continuous learning opportunities, catered lunches and “Talk Tuesdays,” the custom software company has struck a satisfying balance between working hard and living well.
At its core, Promptworks specializes in turning big ideas into custom-made digital projects. Driven by a desire to see its clients succeed, the company fuses agile processes, the highest-caliber code and automated testing to put out ‘wildly successful,’ sustainable software that clients can rely on, every time.
Of course, dangling over the cutting edge of technology requires a tight grasp on the value of employee growth and learning. For that very purpose, Promptworks employees are given non-billable time each week to learn, create or experiment with any project that will enhance their own growth or that of the entire company.
Promptworks’ proactive, tangible efforts give back to the Philadelphia tech community, as well as diversify its applicant pool, are widely appreciated across the company and throughout the community. Its breadth of work can be seen through its organization of and participation in a vast range of conferences, Meetups, apprenticeships and community events that educate and inspire.
People feel like they have agency in shaping the company and how things move, and that lends itself to people feeling confident and letting the best parts of themselves shine. I feel safe being myself here, raising my hand and sharing ideas.Montana Goodman Software Engineer
The culture here is very special. Everyone is knowledge hungry, both eager to learn and to share what they know. Every single day I learn something new.Luis Cielak UX/UI Designer
It’s all about the people you work with. The people here are very interested in what they do and in learning how to become even better. Everyone is interesting, which you really get to see when they present at our Talk Tuesdays.Lan Ngo Senior Software Project Manager
What makes Promptworks a unique place to work?
Being an engineer-founded company, we have a lot of empathy for every single person who contributes to our team. All of the roles within our organization — from engineering and design to QA and project management — we’ve once done ourselves, so we tried to build a culture that represents our ideal workplace for our employees.
Tell us more about your approach to building an ideal workplace culture. What does that look like?
We believe that everyone, no matter how senior, has something to learn because tech is always changing. We also want our team to have time to experiment and push boundaries so that we can make sound recommendations for our clients.
That said, we don’t expect employees to learn on their own time. That’s why we carve out non-billable work time during which employees are able to reinvest in the company and themselves. Employees use 25% of their time to work on projects like estimations for prospective clients, preparing talks for “Talk Tuesdays” held in our dining room or to speak at a conference, engaging with the community through mentoring or Meetups, working on internal projects that let us try out new technology, or building something fun — say, for instance, a custom, voice-recognition-enabled Harry Potter game that lives in our dining room.
Through this approach, we’ve seen many people move up from entry level to senior positions, gain new specialities and advise their peers on what they’ve learned.
Talk to us about your company values.
Our company has four core values:
We also value sustainability in terms of creating processes that will scale, apps that last for a long time and not burning out employees in the process, as well as building sustainable, long-term relationships with our clients.
As a small company, how are you handling growth?
We’ve already expanded quite a bit since 2018 and have worked hard to do so thoughtfully. We’re taking a very strategic approach to growth.
First, we are looking to add more engineering roles to handle building larger, more complex software for enterprise clients. We’ll also be adding QA, maintenance and support team members to ensure we continue to deliver our services with attention to detail, quality and our clients’ needs.
In May, we’ll be moving to 123 S. Broad Street, which will increase our office space from 3,000 sq-feet to 8,000 sq-feet. This move will allow us to comfortably grow over the next handful of years. It includes much-needed space for more meetings and collaboration, with greater wall area for whiteboard planning sessions with clients, as well as multiple types of private work spaces, such as a library (which may or may not have books, but will most definitely be a quiet zone).
The office will be located on the 24th floor with an amazing view of City Hall, and will have all the original comforts of our old home, like giant palms, sunlit spaces, kitchen cubbies and adjustable sit/stand desks.
What do you look for from job candidates?
As a consultancy, at some point or another we all have contact with clients and need to see things from their perspective. We always look for candidates who are empathetic and genuinely care about client success.
We also look for candidates who are a quick study, whether when it comes to adapting to new technology or learning about a new client’s industry.
Our office is an ego-free environment. It’s not about you or your code, it’s about delivering a great product that we can hand off with pride. Everyone collaborates, shares knowledge and helps bring the product to life as a team. For instance, our engineers and designers commonly engage in pair programming, where two people work on one computer at once, taking turns driving. Having two brains on one thing is so helpful. It allows folks to challenge their assumptions, make sure they’re doing everything right, and trade control back and forth.
Also, many of our employees come from diverse backgrounds; several went to arts schools, a few have PHDs in education or neurobiology. These unique backgrounds are really helpful when we throw people into new projects where they can apply their expertise.
How about in terms of tech skills?
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