Member spotlight | November 6, 2019

Dan Schwarz

Fullstack Engineer, Zeus Living

Dan, a self professed nature and boardgame lover has proven to be a tremendous asset to Zeus Living and is one of their first hires in Vancouver’s Terminal office.

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About Zeus Living

Currently backed by Series B funding obtained in April 2019, Zeus Living is a growing property management company that rents furnished housing properties to startups, students, and companies in the Bay Area, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Additionally, they manage furnished properties on behalf of property owners.

Tell us about your career so far, and walk us through your journey to joining Zeus Living.

At my alma mater, the University of Waterloo, engineers are generally required to complete 24 months of work placements before graduation. During my first placement, I worked on a small team of 5. It was a great experience and my first foray into web dev.

My next internship landed me in a dream location – BC! I joined a small team at Telus building web app prototypes. Following that I joined Visier, a Vancouver based SaS company that had an analytics platform web app. It was a great fit and I returned for 3 more internships, occasional contracting and following my graduation in 2017, joined them as a full time employee.

I worked at Visier for a couple of years doing full stack dev on their web app and was later promoted to a team lead overseeing 3 other devs. It was a great learning experience, but I continued to keep an eye out for new opportunities.

Joining Zeus was a remarkably smooth transition. Adam from Terminal contacted me on LinkedIn about a position at Zeus in the Vancouver office. Terminal’s office sounded like a unique and interesting work environment, and Zeus was a small startup with a promising idea. During the interview process, I was consistently impressed by the engineers I talked with and when I received my offer, it was an easy decision to accept.

What is one thing you think the Zeus Living team does really well and drew you to working with them?

The Zeus team has a great culture of fast paced development. It is one of the things that enticed me to join. After joining, I was impressed by the passion each engineer has for pushing the company forward coupled with the autonomy to choose the projects we work on. 

What’s a win you’ve celebrated recently (work related or otherwise) that we can share with the community and can you briefly explain it?

After joining, one of my first tasks was to set up automatic texts to our customers. At our company All Hands meeting, I met a coworker who used our app and seeing the text on his phone was a small win 🙂

What’s it like to work in the Vancouver Terminal Space and what makes it different from other places you have worked in?

I really like it so far. It has a well stocked kitchen, great staff, and some nice perks. One thing that I was extremely impressed by is how well technically and operationally set up the office is for remote work.

You completed your System Design Engineering Degree from the University of Waterloo. Given that Waterloo has a thriving tech ecosystem with a diverse number of software engineering jobs, what drew you to working in Vancouver and how would you describe the tech ecosystem in Western Canada?

Working in Vancouver wasn’t a decision, I simply couldn’t live anywhere else; It’s just too beautiful here 🙂 The access to amazing skiing and hiking is unparalleled by any other tech hub I know of. I also like the size of the city, it’s just the right size for me.

As for the tech ecosystem Vancouver, in my opinion, it’s still young and underdeveloped. In recent years, we’ve been seeing quite an influx of American companies. Hopefully this hits a critical mass, and transforms Vancouver into a tech hub on par with Toronto, Kitchener and Montreal. I expect American companies will grow more dominant in Vancouver’s tech scene in the coming years. 

Why did you choose a startup? What about it do you enjoy?

I wanted the opportunity to develop quickly without a lot of process and tech debt to bog down progress. Zeus has been great for that.

What do you like to do when you aren’t at work (extracurricular activities, volunteer work, hobbies, etc.)?

I’m really into skiing, especially backcountry and laid down my first turns of the season last week! In the summer, I enjoy hiking when the weather is good. I like reading sci-fi and watching some curated shows. Did I mention board games are awesome too? I usually collect them faster than I can play them 🙂

What’s one thing you can’t do but really wish you could?

Play guitar. I can get the chords, but strumming a rhythm is a struggle.

Hypothetically, if you couldn’t work in tech and money weren’t an object, what’s another business you would launch?

A board games cafe! Teaching people new games, and watching people engage with a game is really fun for me.

What is the show you last binge watched on Netflix and what drew you to it?

The last show I binge watched was the Expanse. I was desperate for a Firefly-esque story. It wasn’t that, but I still got hooked. I love worlds with that cyberpunk vibe; hi-tech lowlifes, megacorps, the struggle of man-vs-society.

If you could volunteer for any organization, what would it be and why?

Engineers Without Borders. They do great work and it would allow me to apply the skills and creative problem solving I’ve honed during my academic and career training.

Who would you most like to swap places with for a day and why?

A Park Ranger. I’d love a day working outdoors and understanding what Park Rangers do and how they both think and act on a daily basis.

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