Originally from Pennsylvania, Steve Bussey is a software engineer who’s making a name for himself in the ATL. As the Engineering Manager at SalesLoft, a prospecting automation company, Bussey spends the majority of his time on quality assurance and writing code. His latest side project, Release Ninja, is looking to change the way release notes (explanations of a new feature or bug fix that translate technical jargon into layman’s terms) are communicated with internal stakeholders and customers. As a user, you don’t typically realize something new on an app until weeks later. Bussey wants to turn those weeks into minutes. We recently chatted with him to learn more.
Provide your product manager, internal stakeholders, and customers with real-time release notes from your Github-based project. By seamlessly integrating with Github, The Release Ninja is able to provide a format for “release notes” that are synced, edited, and finally published.
What problem are you solving?
Internal stakeholders and customers are often kept blind to new features for at least a week or two in a company that practices continuous delivery. I am attempting to fill this communication gap by providing information about new features direct from the source (engineers), moderated by an internal member (product manager) and released to customers. This can reduce the feedback loop to minutes instead of weeks.
Please describe the market/industry impact:
I don’t know of any companies that practice anything like this. There are lots of tools that we all use daily and those tools often undergo changes, get new features, and fix bugs. No one knows about any of this though, and so it is lost on people unless they notice. If the industry would start a practice like this, then consumers would be all the better.
How’d you get the idea for it?
SalesLoft COO, Rob Forman, and myself were talking in December about how there is such a large communication gap. He was also writing a company update every week that would often taken hours at a time. My first goal was to get his weekly updates to only take a few minutes, and it has kicked off from there.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
I haven’t seen anyone that quite does anything like this. If there is someone out there that does it, however, I doubt they do it absolutely free and with 100% open source code. The MIT license is a real star for Release Ninja because it means that you can do anything you want with it. Someone could even try to sell it as a company if they wanted, but probably wouldn’t get very far!
What startup/tech projects have you previously worked on?
I worked at WebpageFX in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania while graduating before moving to Atlanta full time last June. I got into my SaaS work there and decided that’s what I wanted to work on. I work on lots of little side projects, but I consider this my first real & useful open source project. I work with a cool team who is organizing a 2000 person international hackathon in Seoul currently (seoul.globalhackathon.io), and balance that with smaller projects.
How do you stay informed & on top of emerging industry trends?
I think it starts with having a very intelligent, motivated, and passionate team at work. My coworkers often share cool technology pieces and some even vet out ideas before sharing. This makes it easy to piggyback on what they’re doing. For myself, I often read a lot of Reddit, Hacker News, and just write a ton of code.
What are your best technical or creative skills?
I would say my biggest technical advantage is my ability to quickly pull apart an idea and come up with a programming solution for it. This allows me to come up with entire systems at once instead of only being able to focus on smaller bits. Creativity is all about just working on ideas when they happen, and not preventing those ideas from coming into my head.
What’s next on your list to learn?
Technically, I want to learn about more front end frameworks. I use Angular right now, but looking at React and others. I really like Rails and will probably stay on it for the foreseeable future. I also want to get better at people wrangling and growing the team at SalesLoft. I’m definitely not as strong with that as I am with coding.
How does ATL weave into your story?
After growing up in small town Pennsylvania, and going to school 20 miles from my house, I decided I wanted to go to a big city. I had spent some time near Seoul in Korea, and I really liked the feeling of the city. It had tons of greenery, was fairly sprawled out, and just fun. Atlanta is the closest city on the east coast that filled that for me. I found SalesLoft after deciding that and haven’t looked back since.