7Factor Software Shows How Human-Centric Culture Cultivates Better Quality
7Factor builds good things: Quality engineered custom software solutions, built cloud native and for stability, security, and scalability from the beginning.
In the toxic “hustle and grind” landscape of commodity software development staffing firms, 7Factor is an outlier: a software engineering consultancy that values quality and craft over hyperspeed hacks; the holistic humanity of engineers over velocity metrics; and the real-world value of their solutions over story points. Rootstock collaborated with 7Factor to articulate their vision and values, then leveraged their unique culture as a growth strategy.
With a thought leadership position that established the company as a premium partner to their clients, in three years 7Factor tripled in size and revenue while staying true to their values.
Problem / Challenge
7Factor was a small software consulting agency founded by an exceptional software engineer — Jeremy Duvall — following an early career working for much larger software development staffing and consulting firms. Duvall had been disenchanted by much of what he experienced and witnessed at these firms. Overworked and undervalued developers were sometimes exploited in a toxic culture of “hustle and grind,” driven by management metrics that didn’t actually lead to real business value for their clients.
In 2017, with just a few employees, Duvall set out to create a human-centric software engineering consultancy, one rooted in a fundamental respect for the humanity and intelligence of his engineers, and guided by his grounded faith that these values would lead to better solutions for his clients. From the start, 7Factor wouldn’t be the cheapest vendor, and, at least in the short term, they wouldn’t be the fastest. Instead, they would be the consultancy that built good things right the first time, for stability, security, and scalability from the beginning.
By 2019, word-of-mouth had allowed 7Factor to expand to about 20 people and several million dollars in revenue. Most clients came from Duvall’s existing network, developed earlier in his career. It was impressive growth in a very short time, but 7Factor was now reaching the limits of this founder-led sales strategy. They were also constantly competing with offshore commodity software development vendors, who offered code that was fast and cheap while obscuring the future cost and delays of technical debt.
How could 7Factor reach potential new clients and convince them that the value of their high-quality work was worth the higher initial price tag?
With a simultaneous global talent shortage in the field, 7Factor also faced a second challenge: defining a strategy for recruiting and retaining the brilliant software engineers their brand, reputation, and growth strategy relied upon.
Duvall wanted to ride 7Factor’s comet tail of success, and reach the quality recruits they needed, while staying true to the mission that had inspired him to start the company in the first place: “To work with smart people who care about quality, and help them grow. To reward people for their work while supporting their balanced lives. To take on interesting challenges that stretch our minds as we serve our clients well.”
Rootstock first worked with Duvall to help him clearly articulate the fullness of his values and his vision for 7Factor, for the field of software engineering, and for the future of our technology-empowered world. We then crafted a multi-year brand growth strategy around his inspiring thought leadership position. Through Duvall’s content, 7Factor would reveal the hidden costs of cheap, commodity code, and criticize the toxic culture that produced it. They would champion the craft, humanity, and care that nurtured satisfying careers for engineers and quality solutions for their clients.
This would flip the script on price comparisons, refocusing potential clients on the value of investing in quality. And it would attract and retain talented software engineers who cared about growth, quality, and sustainable career satisfaction.
We then got to work starting and sustaining a public conversation about 7Factor’s values, with Duvall as the primary voice of the thought leadership campaign, additional 7Factor engineers adding their voices, and the brand as a whole standing boldly for a better way to approach software engineering.
The ecosystem of content and conversations grew deep, high, intricate, and wide. Some highlights of the thought leadership brand growth campaign included:
- Thought leadership columns by Duvall in Forbes, InfoWorld, and CIO
- Case studies demonstrating 7Factor’s approach to quality and the results enjoyed by their clients
- Presentations and panel discussions at industry events
- Podcast interviews that highlighted 7Factor’s culture and Duvall’s human-centric approach to leadership
- A Declaration of Excellence and Grace that offered a bold manifesto for 7Factor’s growth
- Brand videos explaining 7Factor’s culture, approach, and people
- A new website designed around 7Factor’s thought leadership brand
- A YouTube series, Dev Better, that teaches quality engineering practices
- An apprenticeship program that gives opportunities to beginning developers from underserved communities, teaching them 7Factor’s approach to crafting quality software
- Development of sophisticated marketing department systems
- Amplification of all content and news through growth of 7Factor’s social platforms
Results / Benefits
During the first three years of Rootstock’s engagement with 7Factor, the company has:
- Tripled in size to about 60 people
- Tripled in revenue, now well into 8-figure territory
- Won numerous awards for both culture and growth, including:
- Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Best Places to Work (three years in a row)
- Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies
- Clutch Top B2B Companies
They’ve done all this while staying true to their vision and values. 7Factor’s generative culture is stronger than ever, scaled up successfully to their size and reach. Most engineers stay long-term with 7Factor, appreciating the opportunities for growth, sustainable career satisfaction, and life balance. And clients keep coming back to 7Factor with additional projects, having learned firsthand the level of quality they can expect.
Meanwhile, Duvall and his company have contributed to a broader conversation in software engineering. Hundreds of thousands of people have read his columns. Many clients have reformed their internal IT departments and practices based on 7Factor’s advice and example. And as 7Factor’s engineers grow into leadership positions, they too are championing and practicing Duvall’s human-centric approach to crafting quality solutions for stability, security, and scalability from the beginning.
“It’s 100 times more crucial that we have good thought leadership and material out there . . . to allow me to win more deals. We also now have double the engagement metrics on LinkedIn over our major competitor (despite their 148K more followers). That speaks to the quality of our messaging, and is something to be proud of.”
Jeremy DuvallFounder and CEO of 7Factor Software
Differentiate our client from low-cost commodity vendors using a growth strategy that stays true to their values and vision.