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Interview with Craig Piggott, Founder and CEO of Halter

This is the transcription of the recorded video interview we did with Craig back in 2020. Enjoy. 

Greg Denton  

Welcome, everybody. Today, we are having a candid conversation with Craig Piggott, CEO, and founder at Halter. I won't butcher the introduction as to what Halter does, but Craig, if you could give us a bit of background as to who you are, and what Halter does. 

Craig Piggott  

Cool. Thank you, pleasure to be here. To summarize what Hatler does, we build a system or a set of technologies that go from hardware all the way through to an app on a phone, and we use that system to understand more or less everything about at the movements of a dairy cow at the moment and long term other animals.

We track things like health, monitor these cows, we also train them to respond to a set of cues.

And with that, we're able to actually guide these animals around a dairy farm, reduce labor, increase milk production, decrease animal health issues and things of that. So, it's kind of a full system to help manage a dairy farm at the moment.

Greg Denton  

Amazing. And I'm glad I didn't try and take that on, I was gonna say that you can drive dairy cows around a farm by remote control, which I think was maybe one of the descriptions that you gave, once upon a time, but obviously evolved considerably from there. 

“Definitely didn't know anything about tech at all, or the startup scene.”

If you don't mind, we're just gonna rewind the tape a little bit and maybe dig in to how you sort of, were when you're a teenager and whether or not you were sort of had your heart set on becoming an engineer or getting into tech.

Tell us a little bit about what you would like when you were say a 15-year-old? 

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, at 15, fair to say I definitely didn't know anything about tech at all, or the startup scene. Life was a lot simpler. And I was spending my entire time pretty much in the country on a farm.

And yeah, away from engineering in general, but also Auckland and tech in general. So, I grew up in Waikato, went to boarding school, I always knew that I loved solving problems, the outdoors, kind of working hard and getting stuck in and that kind of stuff  but I didn't really have any kind of set intention on that.

It wasn't until I went to engineering school in Auckland that I started to understand a little bit more around, I guess, the tech environment.

But even then, it's mostly just engineering at the time, kind of head down learning as much as I could. But as an engineer, the dream role, I guess, and especially back in 2016 was Rocket Lab.

But in terms of engineering, companies doing cool stuff in New Zealand, Rocket Lab definitely stood out. This was about a year and a half before their first launch. And so, in pursuit of a job Rocket Lab, I started to learn more about tech companies.

And then after university, I was fortunate to get a job at Rocket Lab and my eyes were opened completely into this little world or environment of kind of high-growth tech, high performing companies. That was a very pivotal moment in my journey towards tech. 

Greg Denton  

Interesting. So never any aspirations of being a farmer, or do your parents come from a generation of farmers? 

Craig Piggott  

My dad's actually a builder by trade. They both had worked on farms for a long time. I knew I could. It's kind of a backstop. I knew I could be pretty good at it and actually enjoy being on a farm.

But I guess I wanted to try and do more and like have a bigger impact on the world if I could. And so yeah, no intentions to be a farmer but very much enjoy getting back on the farm and experiencing my roots as such. Yeah, it is pretty crazy where life takes you.

“I didn't really think I would go to uni, actually at all. ”

Greg Denton  

When you decided to study engineering in Auckland, was anyone influential in that decision or was that something that you just naturally had an interest in and thought  was the best guess at that point in time?

Craig Piggott  

I was very single minded actually; I was single focused at that point. I didn't really think I would go to uni actually at all. I was more of the belief of kind of that like, self-employed, go start a company or just go work hard and kind of earn a living.

And so mechanical engineering was slightly related to the love to solve problems and learn how things worked. And so, I could kind of see myself if I want to go to uni, then that's probably the one thing at uni that I could do that I would really enjoy.

And so, I remember distinctly sitting in first-year engineering, it's a general year and off the back of it you have to have good enough grades to pick your specialisation and pretty much thinking, if I don't get mechanical engineering, there's nothing else here that I'm interested in, nothing, like, nothing within engineering, nothing within university.

I look back now and it's so stupid, like there's so many things within university that would be interesting and I know that now, but at the time I was very single focused. And so, yeah, that was just I guess, by chance.

My parents definitely pushed me to go to uni, like, you know it's good idea. Neither of them did but yeah, it was good to do. You can always go back farming, if that's what you want to do, right? 

Greg Denton  

Yeah, I suppose that having that really single-minded focus on the one goal probably helps you to excel at that, no doubt, given that you didn't think that there was the alternative that you were interested in? 

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, more or less, you kind of have to have the grades otherwise, yeah, you don't really have a plan B. Which is probably isn't actually too different to the tech world right now, you kind of have to make it work because you don't have a plan B.

But no, that is more or less how it went. I did alright at uni, I found myself getting relatively bored pretty quickly.

It wasn't quite the hours or the level of work that living on a farm was. Average farmers getting up at four in the morning, working through until after dinner. If you put that much effort into university; A) you get really good at it, and; B) you still have spare time.

So yeah, that led to me getting interested in a lot of other things. Formula SAE is like a student run competition where you build and race an open wheel race car overseas.

And then I eventually started working at Rocket Lab and Halter kind of started on the side around that time as well. 

“So, I was sitting in an engineering class, and I am most definitely the dumbest person in the room.”

Greg Denton  

It's also kind of, I suppose, a unique perspective to see that the work ethic that you develop on a farm prepares you to be a really good student at university. Were you a good student at high school?

Craig Piggott  

No, I wasn't a good student in high school, I actually only just got enough rank points to get into engineering the first place, I think you needed 250, I got 254.

So, I was sitting in an engineering class thinking I am most definitely the dumbest person in the room. I have only just got on here. So, I wasn't a good student in school but it was mostly because my focus was sport and working.

I just didn't really see how like school was gonna help me that much and obviously appreciated being educated, but I just focused on other things. But my first few, like formative years on a farm were very critical.

One, definitely was work ethic. And two, was kind of no matter what, the buck stops with you, like an unreal level of ownership,

You don't get a weather report through to your manager, or like, if it's nine o'clock at night on Christmas, and the cows break out and are on the road, you have to go fix that, there's no other alternative, you just have to.

And so, it's like, it's not very forgiving and it teaches you a lot about ownership and perseverance and a lot about work ethic. Those are all pretty key traits, like running a startup, especially in the early years. 

Greg Denton  

As a bit of a side topic, do you think then that you know, New Zealand has a lot of farmers, do you think there's a lot of farmers out there that could potentially have a great career in tech if they saw that pathway and took interest in it?

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, actually, I'm very lucky in my role right now in the sense that we get to work with all of the top New Zealand dairy farmers.

It's actually one of the coolest parts of my job, is getting to talk with them and I understand how they think about things and they're very principled. Also, you know that they can back it up, all the talking to white board with the actual work on the ground and getting things done.

They're incredible people, I can see them having a pretty key role and tech in the future for sure, especially some of the younger generation there.

But yeah, I think it's sets you up well, a lot of them probably wouldn't know it, that's for sure. But yeah, I can see it.

“And like we're trying to do something that most people think is crazy.”

Greg Denton  

The next part I'd love to have a chat about is obviously Rocket Lab, I think that was a pretty influential part of your journey. You sort of became aware of Rocket Lab whilst you're at university or whilst you're sort of in your first role? Tell us about it. 

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, I learned about Rocket Lab at university. It was really a conversation thing with a few friends, talking about cool engineering companies. As an engineer, 99% of the time, you're kind of rite of passage is bigger, Becker, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, a consulting company, these big firms take dozens of grads every year, if not hundreds.

And almost everybody goes and does it. I actually went and did Healthcare for a summer, and so, you're kind of consigned to the thought that that will be your career in a way, and so, whenever there is anything different, such as Rocket Lab you're very interested and it is rockets, so, you're also even more interested

I didn't know anything about culture at that point, so that wasn't appealing. But yeah, more or less, it was just different and it was rockets!

I didn't really want to be designing HVAC systems in a building or folding chairs or anything like that, rockets sound pretty cool, so yeah, that was probably the how I knew about them.

Then when I got there, I thought it would be good. But it was 50 times, 100 times better than I could have imagined really, and that change was made even bigger by kind of the perspective of where I had come from.

And so, it was actually off the back of my summer at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which at the time loved and I learned a lot at that internship and met a lot of great people and had a lot of smart people around.

But walking out of Healthcare one day, and then a few days later, walking into Rocket Lab was the most kind of stark contrast you could find. The pace and cadence, and like the beat of a company... that week, those few days, were very key.

Every day and every week that went by at Rocket Lab, you kind of learn more and understand more about the culture and the people and what you're doing. And it just gets more and more exciting. Kind of like when you hire someone who's epic and every day they keep getting better and you are like, yes, I nailed that.

It was kind of the same feeling at Rocket Lab, this is way better than I kind of imagined it would be, but for different reasons.

I didn't look at Rocket Lab and go, it's probably full of world class people and I really want to work with them, I just wanted to solve cool engineering problems. But after a few months, that was really the sole reason that I was there.

It was like whoa, this environment just feels different. Like I feel everybody here is trying to achieve something phenomenal. Everyone's ambitious, willing to go the extra mile when they need to, which is a lot.

We're trying to do something that most people think is crazy, and I want to spend the rest of my life doing this type of stuff, doesn't have to be at Rocket Lab. Like, whatever I do, that's kind of my wish.

I guess, I love like putting out dumpster fires. And once you put out one dumpster fire, you go searching for the next one to put out and If you put them all out, you kind of feel a little bit empty and you're like, Ah, I'm going to go look for another fire to put out.

I guess that was the environment that I wanted to be in, and definitely found that at Rocket Lab.

“..the pieces just fell together and it felt like the right thing to do.”

Greg Denton  

Interesting. So, part of that environment is working beside world class people, trying to solve problems that to the common person, seem like a crazy thing to be doing.

Did that mean that when you walked in there, that you kind of saw, maybe this is me for the next 10, 15, 20 years or were you just sort of taking it in week by week?

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, I didn't really have an intentional timeframe. I actually always planned to be there for the first launch, I was excited that I was there before the first launch. Because I always thought, oh, that'd be cool.

In the end, I wasn't actually, I left before the first launch, so my stint was shorter that I thought. I left to start Halter. So, I got the timing a little bit wrong. Turned out the first launch was six months away after that, so close but no cigar.

But yeah, I didn't have a timeframe. I would have been happy to stay if I didn't start my own thing, but yeah, kind of the pieces just fell together and it felt like the right thing to do and I think in hindsight it was.

If Halter didn't exist for any reason, I say this openly to my team etc. I never want to do anything apart from being in those types of environments.

And so, if there was another startup, if there was something someone else started or whatever, that's where I want to be. It will be pretty tricky to convince me to go work at a bank or anything like that, I think I'd struggle.

“There's no shortage of problems that I guess I was trying to solve.”

Greg Denton  

You most certainly would given that description! Tell us a little bit about the ideation for Halter.

So, you've found this incredible place working at Rocket Lab, but you have started to see an opportunity or a problem from your background, tell us a little bit about how that process started? 

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, there's no shortage of problems that I guess I was trying to solve. The farming industry has had very little innovation in 1500 years.

A lot of it is done completely separate to farmers themselves, and so doesn't really fulfill the right purpose and isn't reliable and there's a whole lot of problems with that.

And so, I always knew that farming was very old school, especially relative to what I was doing a Rocket Lab and when I started university, so there kind of felt like a weird gap there that didn't seem right.

I'd go home in the weekends when I got a chance, and your parents are working 100 hour weeks, and you're like, this can't be right.

The next crazy thing is farms aren't small operations. The average farms are turning over about a million dollars a year and there's so many inefficiencies in that system that you look at and go like, wow, why don't we do this.

A farmer will say that, well, that's just practicalities of farming. Like, when I'm working 100 hour weeks, I don't have time to go do that. Labor is hard to find and the holidays are hard, so, there's kind of always these big gnarly problems to solve.

Going to engineering school definitely helps the way that you think about it, helps you understand what technology you could use to solve some of these problems.

But that was all fine. Rocket Lab was really like, okay, this is somebody actually doing it right here, in our backyard, raising money, hiring world-class people and just running headfirst at this problem, and it's going pretty well.

I love this, so that was the I guess, the catalyst to start Halter.

And so, Halter was kind of a bit of a side hustle during my time at Rocket Lab and grew to the point where I went to Peter Beck, who was the CEO and Founder of Rocket Lab, and was my boss and said, like, hey, I've got this thing on the side, I'm gonna go work on that.

And on the spot, he was super supportive, which was pivotal. He invested and he jumped on the board and is still on the board today. 

“The biggest risk we had was, can you actually train a cow to respond to sound and vibration, and will they?”

Greg Denton  

I mean, it's incredible to have that support from someone that you'll obviously have taken such inspiration from.

Also, to be working on it as a side hustle whilst working for him, that is obviously a pretty amazing thing. In terms of the creating Halter as a side hustle, to what level had you built out a prototype? Or what did the business look like at that stage before you jumped ship?

Craig Piggott  

We did not have a lot of stuff, to be honest. I guess the starting, the job is to find your biggest risk and de-risk it more or less.

The biggest risk we had was, can you actually train a cow to respond to sound and vibration? Is a cow smart enough to understand that?

I knew the industry, so I thought if we could build it, we could sell it and hire people. You can cross off a lot of things that just don't really matter at that point, find the biggest risk and tackle that and so we had made progress on that for sure.

You could summarize it as, we had one cow, once, show like signs of understanding the collar, and that was enough to get excited and go try and raise money. And that was kind of all that was needed really.

And I drive down to the home farm, once a fortnight, once a week, and there were many trips down to south of Auckland, and many trips down that, like, nothing worked.

All the hardware wasn't built to a high standard, because it's quick. All the firmware, like I'm not a firmware engineer, there's a whole lot of factors that you just be trying to string it all together just to get it to work for long enough to get a response from a cow.

We used to have a saying that, if it lasted longer than two days passed from when we raised money, we had built it too strong and we had put the time into the wrong place.

That wasn't the risk. We knew we could build durable hardware when we needed to, but we didn't need to right now. And so yeah, that's what we focused on, we use that to raise our seed round of capital.

In hindsight, there's probably other ways that you could de-risk it and maybe do it quicker. But at the time as an engineer, it was head down, started working, started to understand whether it was really doable.

“... every facet of your business, you need to have world class people and top talent as such.”

Greg Denton  

Peter Beck give you advice not to go poaching any other of his staff or team? 

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, that is one of the very few roles that Halter, don't hire anyone from Rocket Lab, and which we try our best not to do. He, Pete was pretty instrumental in the like, I guess, calibrating that initial bar for talent.

And also very instrumental in calibrating that bar for the board and for investors. Every facet of your business, you need to have world class people and top talent, as such and getting those initial stages right is pretty critical.

And so, everybody tells you, hiring is the most important thing and hiring is critical, but you cannot understand it enough until you hire a few of the right people and a few of the wrong people and a few in the middle and then you work out, okay, this is what good looks like and this is what average looks like.

And we need good people. Interviewing is hard, even when you're pretty good at it. I'd like to think at Halter we're pretty good at it, interviewed thousands of people and have a few very talented people as well, a lot of very talented people.

We still only have a hit rate of say 70-80%, so, what do you do when you hire the wrong people? And how do you have those conversations? Pete had a very big influence to start with, all the way down to where we would send him a CV and he'd laugh at it.

I would be like, what? I thought thought they were good. And so yeah, board meetings, going through investor lists, I'm just crossing names off. It was a good schooling on where we needed to be as a company, right from day one.

“We're only just getting started. But already we're starting to see some good traction there.”

Greg Denton  

What a great example to be able to follow and have someone guide you through that process. I'd love to fast forward to the current state of play.

So, what does Halter look like today, in terms of headcount, where you're at in terms of your solution and system, what does that look like? 

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, well, today, we're about 50 people. 80% Engineering and growing rapidly, almost in every single department domain.

There's a ridiculous amount of work to do and we need people to help us. We have systems up and running commercially on farms in the Waikato.

The usage is incredible, it runs the most critical parts of their farm. And so yeah, we kind of define that as like a small number of customers that love us.

And if you can pick between small number of customers that love you, and large group that kinda like you, we will always pick the small number that love us. And so, we can I've gone searching for some of the best farmers to help us validate the product.

There's still a whole lot of product to boot. We can update the fleet of collars remotely, so it's really flexible and we can keep learning and shipping a better and grander product, which is great.

So, I guess in a way, we're only just getting started. But already we're starting to see some good traction there. And so, it's pretty exciting time. 

“The vision for Halter is to unlock the connection between animals and humans for a better world. ”

Greg Denton  

So, from a small cohort of customers that love the product and they're getting value out of it from today, if you were to get your crystal ball out and sort of look into the five years from now, where do you think Halter can be or where would you love to see the business? 

Craig Piggott  

So, the vision for Halter is to unlock the connection between animals and humans for a better world. And what that really means is, what Halter is good at, is taking an intention from a human, and that can be quite complex in nature.

So, an example of an intention could be, I want cow 300 to exit a paddock at the back of the farm, travel north through gateway, down a race, or main path through to a captured net, like set of instructions is quite complex, and then translating that into a set of foundational cues or instructions that an animal can understand.

And so that whole complex path could be broken down to a series of left, right, forward, commands repeated over and over. There are three pretty simple commands that you can train a cow, and so that breakdown is what we're really good at, and what we want to keep doing, and also the inverse square.

If you take the behaviours from this animal, which are quite complex, really good farmers can look at a cow and know she's acting strangely or why she's slower, why she separates from the herd, and kind of categorise all these behaviours with machine learning, and pass them back through to the farmers in hindsight.

Hey, this behaviour has changed, this is what the baseline usually is, this is what she's looking like relative to the mob. And this means she is sick for this reason, or whatever that is.

And so, like back and forward kind of translation or conversion is what we really enjoy. We want to apply that to cows.

Obviously, the market is amazing for that, but also really any vertical with, like, I don't know what the next verticals look like, but long term, we would like to own that layer between animals and humans. So that's kind of the five-year picture.

“Now, we definitely have global ambitions.”

Greg Denton  

Amazing. And then, I mean, there's a lot of dairy farms in the world. And if you starting to go horizontal with different animals, what does that look like as the business?

Do you start to really scale the growth internationally? Are there new specific markets that you'd be targeting initially?

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, 100%. So New Zealand is the best place for us to be to start this business. There are about 6 million dairy cows. And like, yeah, the market here is very concentrated.

We could be busy here for a long time. Now, we definitely have global ambitions. So New Zealand, Australia, South America, Europe, organic farms in the US, just kind of a range of different options there.

So, when we go into those markets, not sure just yet, definitely soon. But also, in saying that we're going to be very busy in New Zealand. The customer pipelines already massive, like we have no real idea how we're going to serve that just yet.

We're trying to work that out. So yeah, it's all kind of go. But we're entering that phase at the moment where it's large scale, mass deployment.

“If you only have world class people in those positions, you can really trust them to make those decisions.”

Greg Denton  

Some great problems to have. So, with those great problems to have, you're obviously expanding in every direction. We might just quickly before we get into who you're looking to attract, get a bit of insight into what is the culture look like at Halter?

I know that in the past, you had referred to your experience working in high performing teams, and that was what really energised you about the space. Can you tell us a little bit about how that looks today at Halter? 

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, we like to say that the most important thing is that you have world class people in every seat, more or less, so everyone that you work with, that you're surrounded by, is truly world class.

And that is the most important thing in my role and for the managers throughout Halter, we try and achieve a really, really good hiring process, a really good at the talent attraction process, good management, if people aren't fitting and don't match with the company. Often, it's just proper conversations that happen regularly between managers and team members.

So that is probably one of the more critical pillars, you could sum that up as talent density. And how does that actually increase over time? How do we attract more and more world class people and put them into seats as we grow and get a better name for ourselves, etc.

And then secondly, how do you grow those people? How do you manage their workflow? How do you give them the context that they need to make really good decisions?

And so, I guess traditionally, in a lot of companies, you'd see very top-down decision making where the CEO comes up with the direction or the key decisions, and they go down through managers, and what you end up with is using engineers, and I've been one of them, on the ground doing something where you're like, this just does not make sense.

I kind of see the intention, but like, in reality, that's not how I would do it.

Those people have all the relevant information to actually make those decisions. And if you only have world class people in those positions, you can really trust them to make those decisions.

“When it all falls apart, is when you have some mediocre people making big calls.”

When it all falls apart, is when you have some mediocre people making big calls, and some people make the wrong calls. Then all of a sudden, you pull trust away from those layers and it all ends up at the top.

So, I guess an environment where you can really trust everybody with big, big calls, your management looks very different. It's not a pyramid.

Netflix has this really good thing where they talk about being a tree. Your senior management is the trunk of the tree, and your people managers are the branches and your individual contributors around at the edges. And all we do is pass through context.

So, I pass through like the priorities and how we think about tradeoffs. And what's important and we educate, and so we just pass context through all the way to the edge. And then the people on the edge really make the key decisions.

So, that is super empowering If you're an engineer, if you're a product person, a salesperson, all that kind of stuff, that is an environment, which is pretty neat to be in.

Also, what's critical to make all this work is really, really good culture of feedback. Naturally as Kiwis, it doesn't really happen that much, people kind of shy away from those harder conversations.

But having a culture where everybody can give everybody feedback, and actually happens on a daily basis and all those people on the edges, if one of them does something wrong, it's not the trunk there has to give the feedback, it's everybody around them saying, like whoa, that's not how we do things here or you didn't farm for decent enough, or, yeah, there's a whole lot of things there. And so, both positive and negative feedback.

So, it's kind of a few of these, like, mechanisms that we use to really empower people to thrive and grow and make those key decisions. And as an organization, we can move a lot faster when that happens.

There's a few other things as well, given our breadth, hardware, data science, farm production, finance, like, the number of teams we have and stuff, it makes a lot of sense to have a lot of contexts passed away through to individuals. 

“I think over 50%, maybe even over 75% of our hiring is like active outreach ...”

Greg Denton  

So, with the bar being set at the level of having world class talent, I presume most of your talent still comes from New Zealand, or are you attracting people from different parts of the world?

Craig Piggott  

We definitely have our fair share of people from overseas. It's particularly tricky at the moment with border exemptions process, but still does happen. And yeah, there's definitely talented people in New Zealand.

So, every search we do, every role we put out, will gather a mixture of offshore versus New Zealand. We have a bigger presence locally, so, we tend to get more applications from New Zealand in general, but doesn't stop us looking.

I think over 50%, maybe even over 75% of our hiring is like active outreach, people on LinkedIn, people having coffees, referrals, it's very driven by the hiring managers, not a Seek ad that a random person applies through, that does happen and you do find people and we still do that because there's a chance but on the whole, usually, you've got to go headhunting for the people that are that are really good. 

Greg Denton  

What are some of the key characteristics that you help qualify those people to fit into that high performance culture or to fit into the culture that you've fostered? 

Craig Piggott  

We usually say internally, at least that our top performers show three attributes. And that's out-think, out-work and out-care. And so, I guess you're looking for versions of that, in every coffee, every chat you have with people.

How smart is this person? How hard have they tried in the past to learn? How curious are they, just raw intellectual, I guess, intellectual horsepower in a way? And so that's kind of point number one.

Point number two is, how hungry are they? How driven are they? How willing are they to put in the time when it's required? And like, I'm not ashamed to say that there is a lot of times when just a lot of work is required.

As long as you're obviously thinking about it and you're not doing stuff like pointless things for the sake of it, then you really have to put your head down and outwork everybody else around, like outside of Halter.

Someone who's smart, someone who is hungry, driven, willing to go the extra mile, and then someone who cares, that can be workmanship, that can be personable, cares about the team that they are in and cares about the people around them, shows empathy.

Those are really when we look at the people in Halter that are, like flying and growing outrageous paces, it usually breaks down into those three areas. And so, it's a mixture of those.

We are very strict on like the no brilliant jerks’ piece, if you're phenomenal engineer and work hard, but you're like, no one wants to work with you, no one's bigger than the team. No way. And so, we have a pretty clear-cut stance on that.

On the whole, I'd say we're a pretty tight team, everyone brings their whole selves to work, everyone is pretty vulnerable with each other. You need to be to be an effective team. And we all work pretty hard and we need to be pretty good at it, thinking, getting on a whiteboard, thinking of first principles, looking at data, making the right calls.

“Yeah, the first thing I'd say is we have super open to any form of background.”

Greg Denton  

The people that you're trying to attract right now, obviously, because you're growing in every direction, who are the people that you want to hear from, aside from, you know, world class engineers that might hear this.

Who are those people that could be listening to this, that might be a great person to have a conversation with?

Craig Piggott  

The first thing I'd say is we have super open to any form of background. You don't have to go to uni, you don't have to have phenomenal grades. Like, there's no criteria.

And I can actually prove that by the number of people we've hired that don't fit the bill by any normal account.

The first person we hired who is still with us today is our lead front end engineer. Think the role said like, you must have a degree, four years’ experience, to be able to work full time.

And he sent me a LinkedIn message and was like, I don't have a degree, I'm actually first year that I've been writing software for ages. So, I'm really good at it. And I can't work full time. But I can do 40 hours because I'm at uni. And so, like didn't fit any of those, I guess, standard criteria, yet he ended up dropping out of uni and he's doing phenomenal.

We hire product managers from law firms, we hire all sorts of backgrounds, as long as you are curious, you've kind of a proven track record of at least put your head down and thinking through things in a smart way.

You're hungry, you're willing to work hard and you care. And so that's kind of how it fits the roles.

“ It's always easy to give yourself an excuse, oh, it's not a good time.”

Greg Denton  

If I was to ask one of your colleagues, what kind of boss you are, what would they say?

Craig Piggott  

Ah, well, I'm not going to answer that question just by guessing that. My 360 degree feedback at the end of last year from the team was a mixture of leading from the front, caring, hardcore.

And yeah, probably summarise it, I'd say, I like to be locked into the details, understand who you are as a person and your work. But also have pretty high expectations about your progress and hold you to account and push you to be better.

We say, come to Halter and you do your best work and will kind of drive you to do your best work for sure. Yeah, so, I don't know if I've answered your question. 

Greg Denton  

That's a great answer and you backed it up by some independence there as well. So, knowing what you know now about tech, what advice would you give to your 18-year-old self on the farm, sort of plotting your course? 

Craig Piggott  

Yeah, do it. I look back and go, I very, very nearly could have ended up just being an engineer in the traditional company, 20 years, and it would have been, like life's biggest travesty.

The fast-paced environment, high growth, always striving to be better, it's like it's contagious and I love it, I'll never leave it. And so that's probably, I don't know, that's not really advice but yeah, it can be scary.

Like, I definitely think people look at it and it feels intense. And from the outside, you're like, wow, that is full-on. There's always an excuse, you just have to do it. 

I need to save for house or get married, have kids. Like there's always an excuse, just have to do it. 

Greg Denton  

Well, thanks very much, Craig. It's been really fascinating just having a chat with you. We love what you guys have built and I think it's an icnredibly exciting company that's going to obviously make its mark on the world. So, thanks for taking the time. And yeah, we look forward to speaking again soon. 

Craig Piggott  

Cool. Thank you. 

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