Graham Campbell was contemplating how to tackle a long queue of community health research projects as a research manager at McMaster University when a friend from the Ontario startup community introduced him to Turtle. "The area and the university is emerging as a huge hot bed for startups and accelerators. At the university, we started developing an online education platform for geriatrics education, meant to help those caring for and supporting older adults. It was all bootstrapped by a non-technical team to start, but we knew it was important," explained Graham.
"We would stay up late at night making MVPs, then do an informal round of R&D with a captive audience of medical students."
Graham and his team have been dedicating their time to breaking down academic silos to collaborate with experts across the university and turn research into “living textbooks”, and then creating products and platforms for the senior care community that integrate cutting edge research and evidence-based caregiver information.
“That’s one of the most exciting things about meeting the team at Turtle- there are so many projects we wouldn’t have been able to do without the platform and the help. It’s hard for me to look at a situation and not see a use case for remote development.”
For the last 18 months, the research team at McMaster have worked with software engineers Bjoern, Andrei, Gabriel and project manager Roman through Turtle to assist in developing platforms that can directly put their research into action in local communities across Canada. Their ability to move quickly, scale, and launch is already yielding exciting results.
“We started operating together under the startup model of testing early and often, so we don’t end up building something and a year later find out there is some huge flaw."
Graham continued, "We want to make sure that everything is supported by evidence and usable and ultimately valuable to the people that will be using these tools." While the McMaster health tech research team has a dedicated lab on campus, they’ve been embracing remote work long before covid-19 pushed so many of us to working online. For the time being, Graham has been working near Georgian Bay, taking advantage of the opportunity to travel a bit and try living remotely with his dog Fisher in a cabin in the woods.
“It really doesn’t feel like anybody from Turtle is across the world, it feels like they are just other team members. Talking to Bjorn when he was in the Canary Islands, the only time I’d think about the distance was when he’d flip the camera around to the beach, and it would be like minus 30 degrees here in Canada meanwhile.”
Beyond embracing talent spread out globally, the McMaster team have been early adopters of flexible and remote work, encouraging team members to organize things in a way that makes the most sense for their own work priorities and personal lives. “We’ve always really valued flexible work, some of the team is working with older adults and caregivers so their hours shift to accommodate them," said Graham.
"The flexible Turtle way of working is how we do stuff within our greater team as well- weekly check ins, async work usually. And that will probably will only continue as the populations we ultimately serve require flexibility."
The team continues to move quickly despite the challenges presented by covid-19. This summer the team stayed on track to launch the first version of YourCarePlus.ca, an online platform for informal family caregivers. With flexible and remote policies already in place, it was easy for them to keep working as covid-19 disrupted routines world wide. YourCarePlus.ca will bring high quality information and assistance to informal caregivers across the country, just in time to help family caregivers manage the impact of the pandemic.
“We just started a great partnership with the government here through Health Canada and are looking at scaling it now. I’m sure there is going to be a lot more we can do to grow.”
Here at Turtle, we're looking forward to seeing what the McMaster team will build next. If you're ready to consider hiring flex-time developers, you can learn more at www.turtle.dev/hire.