Mobile app firm Metova takes bold approach to hiring, nurturing its growing workforce

For Nashville, a city that often points to a shortage of tech talent, Metova President Dave McAllister says there’s an easy solution.

Metova, a mobile application development company in Franklin that should top $6 million in revenue this year, has grown from 17 to 45 employees in the past year to accompany project growth. McAllister’s secret? He’s not afraid to hire and then train his workers.

While some developers arrive ready to begin on top projects, a large number of Metova’s new hires come straight from college. They spend their first two months building sample applications rather than real projects, and they go through what McAllister describes as a boot-camp-style training period that requires them to get up to speed quickly. That means paying them while they train, but it’s an added expense McAllister said he doesn’t mind paying.

“We take on the responsibility of teaching these developers when we bring them in,” he said. “If we build a great place to work and we treat our customers well and do build wonderful apps, everything seems to fall into place.”

Metova is not the only Middle Tennessee company looking to develop its developer staff. More than 800 technology-related job openings exist in Middle Tennessee, according to the Nashville Technology Council’s most recent quarterly report. And the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has launched the WorkIT initiative to help the city attract more skilled employees.

For college students, many of whom are accustomed to hearing they need two to three years’ experience before they are employable, Metova’s strategy means immediate opportunities for them and a chance to work on apps for large clients, including eHarmony, Slacker and Dropbox. As a result, word often spreads among young developers, allowing Metova to fill positions more easily, according to Dave Lane, Metova technology vice president.

“A lot of that is word of mouth,” Lane said. “A few years ago, we hired one guy from Auburn University. He told his friends and they told their friends, and we are still getting people in from that.”

With the high demand for tech talent, both locally and nationally, it makes sense to invest in training rather than wait until developers have those two or three years of experience that most employers demand, McAllister said. On average, developers typically stay 2½ years at Metova, a timeframe that McAllister said he is comfortable with because they might go on to companies that further bolster Metova’s reputation as a launchpad to prominent tech companies and because Metova has usually earned back any investment on their training, many times over.

McAllister also pointed to Metova’s flexibility, coveted especially by software developers who prefer not to be hemmed in by official work hours, as a selling point. Employees can work from home to meet the cable guy, or they can work later hours if it suits them best, as long as they meet 40 hours a week, and no more.

“It’s how we keep people,” he said. “The question is, how can I build a work environment that isn’t a cubeville. They will not last there.”

By Jamie McGee, Reporter, The Tennessean

This article originally appeared The Tennessean.