One of Logikcull’s biggest assets is our people. Passionate, driven employees are our secret weapon in the fight to end eDiscovery, whether they’re working with customers to ensure their success or designing product features that will make once tedious tasks powerfully simple.
Grayson Hodnett is a great example of this. A member of our engineering team, Grayson has been an integral part of Logikcull’s growth for almost six years. In that time, he’s seen Logikcull grow from a service company (Logik) to a software pioneer, move from D.C. to San Francisco, and become a leader in transforming the legal industry. We sat down with Grayson to discuss his time at Logikcull, and all of the exciting changes he’s witnessed.
You're about to celebrate your sixth anniversary at Logikcull. What have been the most exciting changes you've witnessed in that time?
All of the most exciting changes have to revolve around sheer growth! From a headcount perspective it has been awesome to see the company add a diverse group of awesome and talented individuals working everyday to better the product, spread the word, and ultimately get it in the hands of end users. It’s deeply gratifying to have something you’ve poured hours of work into be used and appreciated, and it takes an army of smart people to make that happen in a crowded field.
Beyond that, it’s mind boggling how much the system has advanced over the years to continually handle the ever-increasing flow of data from our customers. As an engineer you are often focused on fixing the immediate problems in front of you, like eliminating bottlenecks or handling edge cases in the data, and it isn’t very often that you step back and look at just how far you’ve come. When we first launched Logikcull beta we would sweat over any upload over 1GB hitting the system, but nowadays we are routinely processing 100s of GBs day. It’s an exciting thing to see improvements over time, and I have full faith in the team to continue to conquer the challenges left in front of us.
Tell me about your background and what brought you to Logikcull.
Where to start? I came to Logikcull about a year after I graduated college. I was fortunate enough to get an education at Wake Forest where I majored in Computer Science with a minor in Economics. Fun fact: I switched to computer science as a major the summer before my senior year after I discovered very late in the game that I loved the thrill of programming and creating useful and beautiful tools from (practically) nothing.
"From the beginning I was smitten—they were a small company tackling huge problems and I knew I’d be able to come in immediately and contribute, learn, and grow..."
My first jobs out of college were as a freelance web developer (mostly building custom WordPress sites and themes) and working as head of internet marketing on a small real estate team (more custom websites!). Eventually I decided I wanted to challenge myself so I moved to DC, which was the closest thing the East Coast had to a tech hub at that point.
Logikcull was the first job I applied for, and thankfully I fooled them enough to get them to hire me. From the beginning I was smitten—they were a small company tackling huge problems and I knew I’d be able to come in immediately and contribute, learn, and grow under the guidance of some excellent mentors that had been in the space for a while. They were also working with the newest technology (Elasticsearch wasn’t even version 1.0 at that point) and willing to let their engineers make smart decisions in establishing the direction the company took from a technical perspective.
How would you describe your role in the company and on the engineering team?
It has certainly evolved considerably over the years. I came in as a Jr. Engineer ready to work hard and prove myself right as we started building the frontend for Logikcull in earnest. Those days, I focused on building out smaller features, experimenting with greenfield projects, and diagnosing and fixing bugs.
Eventually my skills leveled up and I took the lead role on more important feature development. For a while after we launched, I also spent more time focusing on our backend processing pipeline and writing/improving key pieces of that. Later, I shifted back to working more on full stack features, and since then I’ve been able to leverage my knowledge and experience with our entire system to lead multiple successful projects.
"We have a lot of flexibility and a big voice to champion the right priorities"
These days I continue to allocate the majority of my time to leading and architecting larger important features. We have a lot of flexibility and a big voice to champion the right priorities and I’ve been lucky enough to work on some really cool projects that deliver huge value to our customers.
What types of projects do you enjoy working on the most?
Our culture emphasizes putting the customers first and that value has always been felt and has shaped every decision I’ve made as an engineer. Working on-call during the leaner years meant being on the front lines and becoming acutely familiar with our customers, their needs, and ultimately their (sometimes) frustrations with the product. Because of that, I’ve always loved working on features or major performance improvements that deliver immediate impact and help solve major pain points.
I love taking an idea from the “How can we make this happen?” stage to a fully fleshed-out feature complete with bells and whistles, or identifying a big problem and working to improve it.
Can you tell me about a particularly interesting project you're working on?
Currently I am working on a major initiative to overhaul and streamline our billing and reporting process. It’s a huge project with a lot of moving parts and some interesting opportunities/challenges from a technical perspective so naturally I love it!
One of my favorite projects that I’ve ever worked on was improving the search experience for our users via “Flex Search.” Among other things, I got to build a custom query parser that let us expand the typical functionality provided by our backend search stack to improve inclusivity of results and allow for things like phrase and proximity searches. It was a subtle feature that had a huge impact on improving discoverability of data.
"I think that on the whole engineers want to work with other talented people that will set the bar high, challenge them to do their best, and really push the envelope in terms of what can be done... Logikcull easily checks all those boxes."
You recruited your brother to Logikcull as well. What is it about the company that inspired you to do so?
Besides my brother, I’ve also recruited another college friend too! Both of whom are excellent software engineers. I guess I can’t help myself when it comes to preaching how great Logikcull is.
I think that on the whole engineers want to work with other talented people that will set the bar high, challenge them to do their best, and really push the envelope in terms of what can be done. So from that perspective, I mined my network to recruit those kinds of people to Logikcull. From the perspective of my brother and other people I’ve worked to bring in, I think Logikcull easily checks all those boxes as well, and that comes through in our hiring process. It was a win-win.
We’ve got a great team in place, and engineers receive a lot of trust to do the right thing. Throw in a whole host of challenging problems, a company culture that fosters a creative and friendly environment, and the ability to work remote, and it’s kind of a no-brainer. I’m excited about adding more people to the engineering team in the near future and seeing the team continue to grow and add different perspectives and backgrounds.
As told to Allison Zincke-Robles, office manager at Logikcull. You can reach her at [email protected]