Filling the Tech Talent Gap with Balto

Filling the Tech Talent Gap with Balto

LaunchCode recently spoke with Chris Knotes, the COO and one of the founders of Balto, a real-time speech analytics technology company based in St. Louis. Balto is a company partner to LaunchCode and has been filling their tech talent team with LaunchCoders since 2017.

Tell us a little bit about your company:

Founded in 2017, Balto is a call analytics startup in downtown St. Louis. Balto’s real-time speech analytics technology understands phone conversations and tells reps what to say, live on each call. Organizations use Balto for coaching calls automatically, so that sales and customer service agents naturally improve their skills with every phone call. 

Balto’s first LaunchCoder joined in December of 2017 as employee number four, and Balto has added seven more since. LaunchCoders support virtually all aspects of Balto’s speech analytics platform. 

When did you identify a need to fill Junior Tech Talent at Balto?

Though we knew LaunchCoders were new to engineering, we didn’t necessarily view them as more or less junior than other candidates. Naturally, when we started looking to expand our engineering, we interviewed LaunchCode candidates, but we treated them like every other candidate. We gave them the same engineering test projects as we would an engineer with a long career history.

Additionally, we’ve found that LaunchCoders are naturally ambitious and smart; which is reflected in their desire to join the program in the first place. So by the time we hire them, we know we are talking with somebody who already has many of the prerequisites for Balto success; humble, intelligent, and excited to try new things and make significant changes. As a result, LaunchCoders have pioneered and designed some of Balto’s most technologically sophisticated elements, like real-time objection handling for our sales coaching software.

How has Balto benefited from LaunchCode?

It’s possible that Balto wouldn’t exist, at least not in St. Louis, without LaunchCode, and LaunchCoders comprise a vast majority of our engineering team. 

It’s possible that Balto wouldn’t exist, at least not in St. Louis, without LaunchCode, and LaunchCoders comprise a vast majority of our engineering team. 

Without LaunchCode, we would have had to outsource our engineering team, which would severely impact our development timelines and ability to work coherently as a team, since we need to transfer ideas quickly and efficiently. It’s critically important that our engineers are local.

It’s critically important that our engineers are local. Click To Tweet

As an additional benefit, LaunchCoders always have tremendous pride in St. Louis and believe in what the tech community can do for the community. They are excited to try things for the first time. They are humble. They come to Balto ready to work hard, build something cool, and learn a ton along the way. It makes for some great team members.

Many of our LaunchCoders come from non-traditional backgrounds. What non-technical skills have your LaunchCoders brought to the table? 

A few things come to mind; first, Balto’s LaunchCoders come from many different backgrounds, which helps everyone bonds over shared projects and goals, as opposed to environments. We’ve found that hiring through LaunchCode naturally creates a cultural melting pot among our engineers. 

 Balto’s LaunchCoders come from many different backgrounds, which helps everyone bonds over shared projects and goals, as opposed to environments. We’ve found that hiring through LaunchCode naturally creates a cultural melting pot among our engineers.

Additionally, LaunchCoders bring a shared experience to the table, which means they communicate particularly well. They already have an idea of what they know and what they don’t. It’s natural for them to lead a successful Balto project when they’ve already lead successful LaunchCode projects together previously. 

Are there any particular LaunchCoder moments or stories that stand out to you?  

A few months ago, a bunch of the LaunchCoders (and some more sales-minded Baltonians) went to an Opera Tasting here in St. Louis. For those out of the loop, an Opera Tasting is a like a light version of a full opera; we all sat at a table while different gourmet foods and drinks were served to us, each about a specific song and experience. It was a lot of fun and an excellent opportunity for the team to do something outside the office. As icing on the cake, Austin, a LaunchCoder and Balto’s second-ever engineer, was randomly selected for the free tickets to a real, full-blown opera, which we also went to as a group. 

If you’re looking to fill your tech talent team at your company and want to work with LaunchCode to hire fresh, local talent — Contact us today to learn more about partnership opportunities!


Chris Kontes | Founder & COO  Are you a LaunchCoder looking for a new gig? Check out Balto’s careers page for up-to-date information.