The OLX story through a software developer’s eyes

The OLX story through a software developer’s eyes

Sarah Kuizon was 19 when she took on her job as a PHP Developer for Sulit.

It was 2009. Sulit.com.ph had begun to expand and were hiring. Fast-forward to today and Kuizon is now on her 7th year in the company. Speaking at the PHP conference 2016, she recalls the early days where there was only 2 of them in the team.

Kuizon says they had a lot of freedom to create all sorts of things for the website then. Because of this, they got to execute all sorts of ideas, some of which were a little strange. In one instance, She recalls a time when they even made a game on Sulit for a marketing campaign.

At some point, the team developed a flash game called "Spread the Sulit Love" as part of a marketing campaign.

Going global

In 2014, Sulit had become OLX. At this point, the platform was 8 years old. This is because the platform was developed in 2006. Kuizon says the age of the platform had begun to show.

“We had too much fun building features but forgot to make it scaleable,” she says.

This simply wouldn’t do. They were suddenly connected to over 40 countries worldwide. They had to localize many of the features of the global brand’s main framework.

It took Kuizon and the rest of the team many late nights working overtime (and several bottles of Red Bull) but they pulled it off.

In a meeting in Berlin, Kuizon got to meet with her foreign counterparts. They spent 2 weeks working together, further developing the OLX platforms across the globe. This inter-connectedness had it’s perks. It led to new developments such as anti-fraud algorithms and suggestion algorithms to name a few.

The present

From a small team of 2 in 2009, there are now 18 engineers on the team. Their latest achievement is the launch of the revamped OLX mobile app. It was quite a feat for them, taking only a month and a half to develop a new app. They did this because they wanted to address the difficulties people had with the old OLX app and make the buying and selling process much easier.

The new app came out just recently and carries a whole new set of features like social profiles, price suggestions, interest feeds, and a faster chat feature. (Read more on the new app here.)

Now 26, Kuizon has been through quite a journey with OLX. From it all, she shares the following as advice for fellow software engineers:

  1. It’s important to meet face-to-face. Being comfortable working together and mixing teams with different cultures and norms is difficult to do online.
  2. Good code and documentation are important. Software Engineers are the ones who know this and ensure it’s being done. Much of developer happiness and collaboration relies on this.
  3. Community is your friend. Going open source is a good contribution to the public but is also a good source of feedback or fresh ideas.

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