Who we are
We have five decades of combined experience in software engineering and leading teams in renowned organisations including Culture Amp, Envato, thoughtbot, Atlassian, Microsoft, GitHub, Ninefold, Fairfax Media, News Limited, and Sydney University.
As industry practitioners and leaders, we have lived the challenges that technology companies and leaders face at a deeper level.
We provide a safe, inclusive, and familiar environment for you to open up, learn, and grow together. We believe in people, culture, and the universal desire to continuously improve. We believe in creating better ways of working.
We work exclusively with technology companies, startups, and scale-ups to develop processes and practices that allow them to excel. You will be able to apply skills and tools learnt with us immediately to your day to day work situations. We know what is required to succeed in a fast-paced industry that requires constant iteration and collaboration.
Elle is a well-respected leader who has dedicated more than 15 years to the technology engineering industry. She has been writing Ruby on Rails since 2007, and prior to Blackmill, she was a Development Director at thoughtbot in New York.
She enjoys writing clean code, driven by automated tests with agile practises. She constantly works to improve her understanding of technologies, techniques, anti-patterns, and what is considered best practice. Her aim is to deliver clean, functional, maintainable, and user–friendly web applications in an appropriate time frame without wasting money or energy.
Elle believes in strong communities that embody respect, understanding and inclusiveness to drive positive culture and growth. She has a passion for helping people learn to work better.
Elle is on the Victorian Government's Industry Advisory Panel to help assess digital skills training courses for the new Digital Skills and Jobs Program.
She is also currently studying Psychology for Business and Management at Curtin University to learn new ways to help people improve how they work.
In 2014, Elle organised Rails Girls events in Sydney, RubyConfAU 2014, and was a member of the Ruby Australia committee. In 2015, she co-organised Gotham Ruby Conference (GORUCO) in New York City, and started a monthly work jelly for women in tech. In 2016, she co-organised Rails Camp USA East Coast in the Catskills, NY with Lachlan, and once again co-organised GORUCO X. In 2018, she was an advisor to the last GORUCO conference.
Elle has delivered many talks around the world including the latest one, which was Storytelling with Git rebase workshop at Git Merge 2020 in LA.
When she is not immersed in the Ruby community, she is probably immersed in water, or lately, in bread flour.
Lachlan has over 20 years of industry experience and knowledge as a developer, leader, and speaker.
Before Blackmill, Lachlan worked with some of the world's renowned companies including GitHub, Neo, Microsoft, Bigpond, Ninefold, Atlassian, and News Digital Media.
He loves attention to detail, efficiency, and quality that only a care for your craft can produce. His work ethic, empathy, and ability to adapt to various roles has enabled him to bring big picture thinking to many of our clients' projects to deliver sustainable quality outcomes.
Lachlan has been a speaker at many conferences since 2007. His latest talks include Re-imagining the Hiring Process at the Bifrost Tech Leadership Conference in Toronto in 2018 and Developer Culture that Doesn’t Suck at ManhattanJS in 2015.
He went to Sydney’s first Ruby on Rails meet up in 2006 and has been an active member of the Australian Ruby community ever since. He is also a habitual starter of community events, such as the long defunct industry demo night, Webjam; Australia's longest running startup meetup (probably), Silicon Beach Australia; and the only Sydney web industry social event held in a tequila bar, Friday at 4 (or most likely at 5).
He also founded and ran a coworking space called The Workbench in Sydney and helped organise the Sydney JS meetups. While living in New York City, he co-organised Rails Camp USA East Coast 2016 with Elle.
If he offers you a cocktail, or a meal, expect the best he has learned to make, with a healthy dose of experimentation to keep on learning.
If you want to reach Lachlan, please email him at email@example.com
Sebastian von Conrad
Sebastian is an experienced engineering leader with over 15 years in the industry. As an alumni of Australian start-up and scale-up successes Culture Amp and Envato, as well as other companies, he has led teams small and large. Most recently as VP of Engineering at Culture Amp, he was responsible for a 150-person engineering organisation and was involved in cross-cutting organisational initiatives and acquisitions.
While Sebastian has broad knowledge of and interest in product and technical strategy, software architecture, and business processes, he always comes back to people leadership as his foundation. He believes that culture, feedback, and communication are the root causes—and solutions!—to most organisational issues. He loves working with people, and applies his curiosity and experience in helping others help themselves.
Sebastian was a founding committee member of Ruby Australia, where he has tenures as President and Treasurer. He organised RubyConfAU 2015, and Railscamp 10 in Adelaide, SA and 21 in Darwin, NT. He was a director of the Founder Institute's Melbourne chapter, and continues to advise start-ups on a broad range of issues.
On the speaking circuit, Sebastian has travelled internationally and all over Australia to give talks on organisational culture, software architecture, as well as engineering practices and processes. In particular, he's known for giving long (but somewhat entertaining) presentations about Event Sourcing, including this often-linked-to talk in Singapore.
Outside of work, Sebastian enjoys ice hockey, video games, collecting and cataloguing wine, and doting on his two cats. Ask him about his cats. He has a lot of pictures of his cats.
A Swede by birth and upbringing, Sebastian now lives in Melbourne, Australia. It was about the last place he ever thought he'd visit, yet alone live, but he found himself moving here in 2009. He has no plans to leave—at least not until he actually sees a snake.
The story of a name
Choosing the right name for a company is always hard. And then people ask for the story. Here is ours:
In Sydney, at the western end of what is now known as the Anzac Bridge sits what looks like a huge abandoned factory. Due to the flat terrain of the waterfront and parklands, and the sweep of the bridge, its silhouette dominates the horizon as you approach the area. A literal black mill.
Lachlan has always been fascinated by it and began to dream about how he might be able to re-purpose the building and grounds as a modern technology and community space.
The building is actually the White Bay Power Station which ceased operation in 1983. The NSW government has also had ideas about a technology precinct on the site, but is having difficulties making progress.