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TrueAbility: A Geekdom Startup Developing A Technical Assessment Platform On The Rackspace Cloud

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TrueAbility, a member of the Rackspace Startup Program, is a technical assessment platform that allows tech professionals to prove themselves in a live environment. The startup leverages the Rackspace Cloud to spin up servers, then apply and break technologies on them, and deliver questions to the end user, which they are required to solve by performing real work. The TrueAbility system grades the tech pros’ work and delivers results.

As the startup concept was forming, TrueAbility joined the Geekdom community in San Antonio, a place where they were surrounded by mentors, experts and other entrepreneurs.

“The first reason we looked in to Geekdom was because it was a place to work that had Internet and didn’t have baristas grinding coffee beans and shouting orders,” explains Frederick “Suizo” Mendler, co-founder and COO at TrueAbility. “We were almost instantly connected with developers that helped us get over obstacles, PR pros and marketers that answered important questions for us, and UI and UX folks that helped us get our first product out to the marketplace, which helped shape our idea into a real business.”

Growing up at Geekdom helped TrueAbility. Now, the TrueAbility team is returning the favor.

“Today, we give back at Geekdom in a similar way,” Mendler adds. “We enjoy helping others and that is really what Geekdom is all about. A lot of important milestones in our timeline were instigated by mentors and events at Geekdom.”

TrueAbility was originally conceived from “the founders’ determination to solve their own problems with technical recruiting,” Mendler notes.

“We are a destination for technical professionals to learn and grow,” Mendler says. “We don’t charge a dime for that. We really believe that in order to help close the skill gap that exists in our industry today, you need to promote education and give the masses a way to learn and practice important technical skills on their own.”

TrueAbility’s technical assessment platform is free of charge for tech practitioners, Mendler says, but TrueAbility still manages to create a revenue stream for the startup.

“We are a for profit business. We monetize our assessment platform in a couple ways,” Mendler explains. “Companies may access our large community of technical pros by posting a job on our job board. This is no ordinary job board though – companies pick the key technologies they require for the role, and technical professionals prove themselves for the position by taking the world’s first online technical interview. Companies then have a stacked ranking of all their job candidates and their skill level—it’s a better process for recruiters and hiring managers, and tech pros love it too!

“Another way companies leverage TrueAbility is for internal learning and development,” Mendler says. “We have a lot of companies that like to have their tech pros take the assessments so they can all learn from them. They meet after and discuss results and methods for solving the problems.”

Companies that are currently using TrueAbility’s technical assessment platform range from tech startups like SendGrid, ShareThis and OneLogin to some of the more established brand names like Netflix, Rackspace and Sony PlayStation.

The co-founding team of TrueAbility knew each other in a previous professional life; they all worked for Rackspace at points in their careers. And it was there that Mendler learned about the Rackspace Startup Program.

“Our co-founders are ex-Rackers,” Mendler says. “We helped grow the company and know what Rackspace is made of. It’s not often you get to partner with a company that you have intimate knowledge of what is going on inside. Also, the startup program was introduced to us early on.”

With its infrastructure built on Rackspace, Mendler defines how TrueAbility runs in the cloud.

“Our infrastructure is 100 percent cloud-based,” he says. “Our Web/App server pool is a mix of 2GB and 4GB Rackspace Cloud Performance instances. We leverage Postgres on our DB instances. We launch a Cloud Server instance for each AbilityScreen assessment. That is a server per end user! During the course of a day, we often deploy and terminate over 500 servers. Over the past year, we have provisioned thousands of Cloud Servers. Chef is utilized to manage all of our cloud resources. The flexibility of the cloud is awesome, as we continue to learn what our customers need and how we can serve them. ”

Mendler continues, “At Rackspace, we utilize Cloud Servers, Cloud Files, Cloud Load Balancers, Cloud Networks, Cloud DNS, Rackspace Email and Hosted Exchange. And, we rely heavily on the Rackspace Cloud Servers API, and of course Fanatical Support!”

TrueAbility has also created a monthly event, the Linux Showdown, a multi-day Linux contest that pits Linux professionals, like system administrators and DevOps engineers, against the clock to solve a simulated server crisis. Participants are challenged to prove their technical skills in different scenarios each day–competing for leaderboard position, badges and daily prizes.

“We just finished our seventh edition of the Linux Showdown—it was a huge success,” concludes Mendler. “The team continues to work hard to build our technical community and bring them a relevant real world proving ground. Our job board allows companies to not only target thousands of the exact professionals they need, but to verify their skills to do the actual job before engaging them. The TrueAbility technical community has grown substantially and users are engaging with us on a regular basis to be the best at what they are most passionate about—technology.”

The Rackspace Startup Program was there to help TrueAbility develop its technical assessment platform, a cloud-based platform that allows tech professionals to define their skills and companies to verify their skills. Drop the Startup Team a note and let us know if you need any help building your startup.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by John McKenna.

John McKenna loves startups and is a Space Cowboy with the Rackspace Startup Program. He also crafts customer stories and produces really cool videos for the Customer Reference Program. John enjoys telling stories through his writings…and loves the beach, the ranch, his dog Blue and most of all his three beautiful daughters.


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  • Fernando Pimenta

    I think that is very good the job of TrueAbility in construction of new talent and the Showdown is a great opportunity to test real knowledge.

    Congratulations on your initiative !

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