CTO / VP of Engineering

Avela is a Nobel Prize winning platform for families to navigate their child’s educational journey. Parents can find, apply, register, and pay for school and programs for their children, all from a common application system with saved profiles. Avela also powers backend admissions and operational workflows, making it easy for schools, districts, and educational providers to equitably serve students. We’re like “OpenTable for Education” or “Mindbody for Schools.”

We’re seeking an experienced VP of Engineering to manage the engineering team, serve on the executive leadership team, and partner with the CEO and Product Lead to drive our product strategy and execution.

Reporting directly to the CEO, you'll oversee a team of 12 employees from day one, with substantial growth anticipated. You'll collaborate closely with our Product Lead to oversee all aspects of product engineering, including quality, architecture, and software development, enabling our expansion from serving dozens to hundreds of school districts across the country. This will require a seasoned leader with the experience and judgment to make critical trade-offs between scalability, urgency, reliability, and quality, ensuring we chart the optimal course for success.

Note on Titles: At Avela, we eschew corporate hierarchy and the traditional titles that go with them. We do not have any Chief XYZ Officers, VPs, Directors, Group Managers, etc. The formal title of the role will be Engineering Lead, but it is the equivalent of a startup CTO or VP Engineering and will be treated as such.


Although Avela is a fully remote company, we are slowing building geographic "hubs" to facilitate collaboration. We strongly prefer candidates who are located in or around Boston, New York, or San Francisco. Our Product Lead is located in Boston, so that would be the optimal location. We are also open to candidates willing to relocate to those cities or commute into them frequently.

Head of Engineering team, reporting directly to the CEO and managing 12+ employees across engineering, QA, and technical services teams.
Lead the team, including management and mentorship, instilling a culture of collaborative problem solving, passionate mission orientation, and productive intensity.
Grow the team as finances allow, including sourcing, interviewing, hiring, and training talent. We expect the team to double within the next 1-2 years.
Responsible for architecture, software development, quality, and scalability, including product KPIs like uptime, performance, usability, and NPS, and quarterly engineering OKRs.
Lead the integration of our product suite into a unified platform, with client-based feature flagging and intuitive self-service administration.
Ensure products can continue to scale to 100x our current user base, supporting over 10 million families across the country.
Member of the Senior Leadership Team and partner in driving strategy, culture, and growth. Prepare for and contribute to weekly SLT meetings, weekly All Hands meetings, and quarterly board meetings.
Maintain client trust with industry leading security and compliance, including maintaining SOC 2 Type II compliance and earning ISO 27001 and HIPAA certifications.
Partner with product and customer success teams to delight our clients and users, maintaining a high NPS and CSAT.


Our primary product is an application and enrollment management system that we sell directly to schools and districts. The system is made up of Avela Apply (application, offers, waitlists), Avela Match (charter lottery, student assignment), and Avela Enroll (registration and advanced form workflows). We also have a stand-alone school finder (Avela Explore), which was one of our first products and is currently being updated to share a backend with the other three products.
This is a B2B enterprise product, with complex user roles, data permissioning, security/compliance requirements, and more.
We place an emphasis on equity and accessibility in our product and build all end-user facing tools mobile-first, localized, and WCAG 2.1 AA compliant.
We support both admin users at our educational providers (including schools and districts) and end users (parents, guardians, and caregivers), as well as a range of intermediary roles (e.g. school counselors, registrars, etc). (Students do not use our platform directly.)
Tech stack includes React + TypeScript, Chakra UI, Hasura & GraphQL, AWS Lambda, AWS Serverless Services (Fargate, Aurora, S3, SNS, etc), AWS RDS w/ PostgreSQL, AWS CDK, AWS CodeBuild, AWS Amplify, etc. (Experience with AWS is required, but otherwise no experience with current tech stack required; in fact, we expect to make changes over time.)

Role Qualifications

5+ years as a CTO or VP Engineering at a successful enterprise SAAS company. Strong preference for at least 2 different experiences as the senior most engineering leader in different companies.
10+ years of experience architecting, designing, developing, and integrating complex systems.
Experience with B2B enterprise software required; strong preference for experience with highly regulated sectors like education, healthcare, and government.
At least some startup experience is required - we want to see that you have worked under intense pressure in a highly ambiguous environment with limited resources.
Experience at best-in-class (large) software companies is a plus, but not required. We think it’s helpful to have worked in a range of corporate environments and seen what $1+ billion companies do right, so that you can help us get there.
Passion for education or equity is required, and some experience working in education is preferred. We want to see a deep sense of empathy for users, reflecting a genuine understanding of the challenges and needs of our education clients and stakeholders.
Excellent communicator, able to lead a team, explain technical concepts to non-technical audiences, present to the board of directors, and debate with the leadership team.
Strategic thinker with a track record of driving technological innovation and business growth. You’ve driven the complex and challenging tradeoffs between speed, cost, and functionality when building a platform while supporting product development in one or more fast-moving companies.
A flexible mindset, ready to pivot directions swiftly based on product or market dynamics. Able to context shift quickly, wear many hats at once, and thrive through ambiguity.
Legal ability to work in the US without Visa sponsorship with at least 10+ years of full time work experience within the US.

$150,000 - $250,000 a year

This is a senior leadership position and will be among the highest compensated individuals in the company.

Base: $150,000 - $250,000 / year
Equity: 100,000 - 400,000 shares
Benefits: $30,000 - $60,000 / year

We have a strong preference for individuals willing and able to take a large portion of compensation in the form of stock options, to align incentives with the rest of the leadership team, board of directors, and investors. We will work with you to determine the right combination of cash compensation (salary) and stock options (equity), with candidates willing to take lower salary receiving significantly higher equity.

We also offer a competitive benefits package, which is outlined below.

Avela is a Nobel Prize-winning edtech startup building the first platform for families to navigate their child's educational journey and a universal application for PK-12 education, daycare, and enrichment programs, promoting equity and access to education. We’re like “OpenTable for Education” or “Mindbody for Schools.”

For students and families, this simplifies the process of finding and applying to educational programming. For schools and districts, this streamlines operations and helps increase enrollment (and hence, revenue).

We sell our application and enrollment platform directly to school districts, charter networks, other educational providers, cities, and states. We work with school districts and charter networks across the country, including in Oakland, Seattle, Hartford, Tulsa, New Orleans, Newark, and Jersey City. We also work with a range of nonprofits and NGOs, including Teach for America and the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as the US Military.

Our platform has four parts to cover each stage of the application journey, from exploring options to applying and final selection and admission:
Avela Explore - Mobile-optimized school finder and opportunity navigator
Avela Apply - Streamlined application management system and tracking
Avela Match - Research-based admission and student assignment lottery system.
Avela Enroll - Online registration, transfers, and enrollment platform with document collection.

We also offer a range of consulting services to help districts implement enrollment reforms and advance equity in educational programs.

Learn more at avela.org.


Avela was founded by a renowned team of visionaries, including Nobel Laureate Joshua Angrist, Clark Medalist Parag Pathak, and social entrepreneur Greg Bybee. We have a passionate team of entrepreneurs, engineers, economists, and data scientists - get to know us at https://avela.org/team.


We love our team and care about their wellness. We strive to offer the best benefits of our peers, including:
-- Significant equity
-- Flexible work policies
-- Unlimited vacation
-- Home office stipend or WeWork membership
-- 401(k) program
-- Flexible Savings Account (FSA)
-- Dependent Care Saving Plan (DCFSA)
-- Commuter Benefits
-- Life Insurance by Guardian (covered 100%)
-- Platinum Medical Plan by UnitedHealthcare (Employees 100%, Dependents 40%)
-- Platinum Dental Plan by Guardian Health (Employees 100%, Dependents 40%)
-- Platinum Vision Plan by Guardian Health (Employees 100%, Dependents 40%)

Learn more at avela.org/careers.


We are a flexible, fully remote company, however all full time employees must live in the United States and meet the work authorization policies below. We are building geographic "hubs" to facilitate collaboration, so prefer candidates who are located in/around Boston, New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, or are willing to commute into them for monthly on-sites.

Colleagues are expected to work from a quiet location with reliable, high speed internet, during continental US hours, and in accordance with our collaboration norms outlined below. #LI-Remote

Work Authorization

Although we are strongly supportive of immigrants and individuals of all backgrounds, unfortunately, as a small startup, we are not in a position to sponsor visas and are only able to consider candidates who are authorized to work in the United States without employer sponsorship. We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to working together in the future.

Remote Working and Collaboration Norms

As a remote-first company, we think deeply about aligning on shared values and collaboration norms. We trust our team and empower everyone to find the right balance for their productivity, but also seek to facilitate synchronous collaboration and minimize asynchronous latency.

We ask everyone to have access to a quiet environment, free from distractions during working hours with high speed broadband internet. (One of our benefits is that we'll cover a WeWork membership!) Our default is video-on for meetings to foster relationships and allow non-verbal communication cues to come through, however we understand that from time-to-time it’s helpful to turn video off. We also ask colleagues to have a proper office setup with desk, external monitor, quality webcam, etc. (Another benefit is that we cover up to $2,000 of office setup.)

For full time roles, we expect colleagues to work a normal business day in a continental US timezone of their choice, so long as there's overlap from 12pm - 6pm ET. This ensures sufficient time for synchronous collaboration, but also facilitates flexibility in your schedule. (We are open to other working arrangements, but this must be approved in advance before joining.) We also expect full time employees to join for biannual week-long team offsites (we cover the costs, of course).

We Encourage You To Apply

Avela is a safe, inclusive workplace for people of all backgrounds and walks of life. We strongly encourage you to apply if you are from a marginalized or underrepresented group, even if you don't meet all of the job requirements. If you believe this is a role that you’ll be excited to work in every day, want to be a part of a culture like ours, and will be relentless about pushing boundaries to succeed, please apply.

Tech Stack (for Product/Engineering Roles):
Experience with our specific technologies is not required, even for engineering roles, and our stack is constantly evolving. Here's what we're using now:

-- React + TypeScript
-- Chakra UI with focus on a11y
-- Jest + React Testing Library for unit tests
-- Playwright for end-to-end tests
Back-end + Database:
-- GraphQL with Hasura
-- AWS Lambda with NodeJS / TypeScript and Go.
-- AWS Serverless Services: Fargate, Aurora, S3, SNS
-- AWS RDS with PostgreSQL
-- AWS CDK for Infrastructure as Code
-- AWS CodeBuild and AWS Codepipeline
-- AWS Amplify for Front-End

Salary: $150,000 - $250,000
Location: San Francisco, CA, US; Boston, MA, US; Los Angeles, CA, US; New York, NY, US
Remote: OK
Company: Avela
Posted: 2024-05-20

Job Closed