We are looking to add another software developer to the team here at ENTP.
You'll primarily be working on two Rails applications, Lighthouse and Tender. We recently implemented a Redis based analytics backend to Tender and are working on the next major update for Lighthouse.
It's a pretty fast paced environment. Aside from that, we love open source and solving problems, so the possibilities are endless. If you have an awesome idea, we'll back it. We're always looking at all sorts of fun programming challanges beyond the range of your typical web application.
Zack Hobson and Courtenay Gasking are the two developers you'll be joining here at ENTP. Both are awesome at what they do. You'll be working closely with Hobson, pairing on feature development and helping push our applications to the next level.
Everyone here at ENTP works as a team. We all chip in with customer support and contribute to bug fixes, brainstorming, and work towards a better future for our products.
Ruby, Rails, MySQL, Redis, jQuery, Prototype, Git, and a love for open source software. Bonus points for experience with Chef.
We're a team of eight. Most of us reside in Portland because it's the most awesome place on the planet, but part of the crew is down in Los Angeles. We typically roll in to work around 10:00 AM and have a serious love for coffee shop hack sessions, quality bourbon, and micro-brews.
What we bring to the table
Competitive salary with health, dental and vision. It's a great gig, an awesome team, and an opportunity to work on two extremely well established Rails applications.
How to apply
Send an email to email@example.com with links to your code and a blurb about yourself.
Tender has reached the 1,000 customers mark!
Hugs-and-handpounds go out to all of our customers for their support and feedback over the last two-and-a-half years. Looking back as a small bootstrapped company that was doing client work to cover the development costs of two products, it's been an amazing journey thus far.
Some Tender statistics
- 1,008 subscriptions
- 11% of trial accounts become customers
- 1.2 Million people used a Tender for customer support
- 2.8 Million support discussions
- 1.6 Million closed support discussions
On the roadmap
Growing the team
The time has come! We've got an empty seat here at ENTP and we're ready to add another developer to our team. If you're a Ruby geek and lusting to dig into some awesome web application development, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org with links to your code and a blurb about yourself.
You can view the full job listing here.
New features and updates
Where do I even begin? I want to touch on some of our major goals for Tender in the foreseeable future.
- New private support workflow features (disabling the public forum)
- New "Closed Beta" support feature
- New and improved Knowledge Base system
- New and improved workflow for assigning support discussions to your staff
- Twitter integration
There's a lot more to add to that list, but I'll save those items for when we release our public roadmap.
A new plan structure
We're preparing to roll out a new plan structure for Tender. Between Lighthouse and Tender we've tried a few different plan and pricing options over the years and we've come to a few conclusions that will allow Tender to scale better to your needs. We've started migrating Tender's billing system over to Braintree (which is totally awesome BTW!) and once that is complete we'll have some pretty big announcements to post about.
A better trial experience
First impressions last the longest. That's a big reason why it takes all of 10 seconds to sign up for Tender. A while back we decided that new Tender accounts would get some live action after signing up, so we started to generate a support discussion that goes right to my email inbox when you reply. Thanks to the feedback during trials, we have a fresh perspective on how we can improve that first experience.
As always, we're constantly working to roll out bug fixes and improvements to Tender. We have a number of bug fixes in the stack that we'll announce as they ship.
Last night we shipped some bug fixes and additions to Tender.
- Fix - Broken user profile link bug in Tender's search results page.
- Update - Duplicate comments flagging no longer applies to staff members. It's the first step towards canned replied.
- New - Custom CSS for Tender's Widget.
In addition to those, we had a few lingering edge cases with discussion counters on the Dashboard that we've cleaned up. The counters bug is fixed but a few legacy issues where the counters were still wrong may exist on accounts. Feel free to contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions.
It's probably safe to say that I've tried just about every to-do list app released over the last four years. Many of them have been great, but they all failed to solve one serious problem, I have multiple computers and devices.
In October 2010, I received a beta invite to a new app called Wunderlist. They were interested in using Tender for their customer support and I was really interested in playing around with their app.
Wunderlist supports multiple devices (iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and Mac OS X) and syncs between them automatically. What sets Wunderlist even further apart from other to-do lists is that it is Open Source Software. The apps and cloud syncing services are completely FREE. What's not to love about that?
We're huge advocates of Open Source Software here at ENTP. We've released a lot of our own code over the years and provide free Tender and Lighthouse accounts to any Open Source projects who want to use them. It's the least we can do to give back to the community we love so much.
It's amazing to see an Open Source project like Wunderlist using Tender and gain so much traction. We're excited to see what the future holds for 6 Wunderkinder.
I've always figured that one day my kids are going to be very confused as to why their father gets more excited about Apple events than Christmas or a birthday. In honor of that excitement, I want to do something awesome for Mac and iOS developers who are looking to provide customer support for their apps.
If you're a Mac or iOS developer and you sign up for a Tender trial this week (it takes 10 seconds and is free for 14 days), we will give you $75 account credit when you upgrade to a paid plan.
Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your Tender account URL we'll take care of the rest.
Happy WWDC week everyone.
Shortly after WWDC in 2009, we noticed a traffic spike on Tender resulting from a blog post titled Growing Pains. The post was written by Kevin Hoctor, a Mac developer who had signed up for Tender just one week earlier.
"It's only been a week of working with Tender and a few days of having it live for our customers to use, but I'm thrilled with it. The discussion forum is much more structured than our old Google Groups forum—we can mark issues as open or resolved, assign priority queues to issues, and, best of all, support emails go to the forum so they can't get lost in a cluttered inbox. It's not as large and in charge as FogBugz, but that's part of its appeal. We're even more committed to offering timely and effective support as our customer base continues to grow, and Tender will help us stay on top of our game." - Kevin Hoctor
Since Hoctor's blog post in 2009, we have a few more notable Mac and iOS applications using Tender.
Mac and iOS apps on deck
Papers - Your personal library of research.
The Cocoa Bots - The crew behind Hyperspaces.
Realmac Software - Creative Software for Macs.
Sparrow - The new mail for Mac.
Villian - wickedly good games for iOS.
Propane - Mac client for Campfire (We can't even begin to imagine what our life would be like without it).
M Cubed Software - The makers of Lighthouse Keeper, Code Collector Pro, Minim, Syllabus and Storyboards.
Primate Labs - The makers of Geekbench and Wiinote Wunderlist - Task management at its best.
FuelCollective - Makers of Permute, Eon, Pochade and Snippet. They also make a Mac toolbar client for Tender called Meaty!
Textie Messaging - The unlimited texting app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Echofon - Full Featured, Super Clean Twitter Apps.
App Notifications - Delivering real-time content to your iPhone.
Concentrate - Concentrate, for the Mac, helps you work and study more productively.
Stunt Software. The makers of On The Job, Downsize, Overflow, 4 in a Row for iPhone, and Freeform for iPad.
Enstore - An e-commerce platform that works with Checkout and AccountEdge.
Test Flight - iOS beta testing on the fly.
Biolithic - The makers of Comic Zeal, ThinkBook and Twiku.
ExpanDrive - Access remote files with any application.
RunKeeper - RunKeeper makes tracking your workouts fun, social, and easy to understand so that you can improve the quality of your fitness.
Postagram - Instantly print and ship photos from Instagram or your Photo Album right from web or iPhone.
Momento - A unique approach to diary writing.
Moneydance - Simplified money management for your life.
Rocketbox - A powerful, new way of searching your e-mail in Apple Mail.app.
CloudApp - Share. Files. Fast.
SuperMegaUltraGroovy - The makers of TapeDeck, Capo and FuzzMeasure Pro 3.
Dolly Drive - Use Apple Time Machine in the cloud!
Carbon Copy Cloner - Make a bootable backup of your digital life.
Shiny Frog Software - The makers of DeliBar, IMG2ICNS and Shiny Droplets.
omnidea - The makers of RapidCart 3, RapidLink, RapidMaps, RapidViewer and Rulers.
Notify - An awesome email notifier for Mac.
Apparent Software - The makers of Socialite, ImageFramer, Cashcalculator and Blast.
Third Street Software - The makers of Sente 6 and Sente for iPad.
Mental Case - The Study App.
YourHead Software - The makers of Kiwi, Accordion, Collage, Blocks, Stacks, Kwix and Carousel.
Ehon - Your Mac loves eBooks.
Chocomoko- The makers of Eavesdrop, Brisk, and SweetFM.
Outpost 2 - A native iOS application for Basecamp.
touchAble - Control Abelton Live from your iPad.
codeREADr - Scan, record, track, validate barcodes and collect data with your smartphone!
Brightkite - Unlimited group texting.
PixelMags - Content distribution, one app at a time.
iWeb Buddy - An extension to Apple’s popular iWeb application. Where iWeb leaves off, iWeb Buddy starts.
Coradine Aviation Systems - Three magical ways to track your flight time.
SourceTree - A Mercurial and Git client for Mac.
There is also an Objective-C library that Matt Newberry wrote for Tender's API.
That's a pretty awesome lineup.
On Tuesday, we noticed a small subset of Tender users have not received email notifications since May 27. The problem was brought to our attention as soon as a few power users noticed their emptying inboxes. We immediately restored notifications to those users and began investigating the problem.
After some digging, we discovered that a bug with our outbound email server had disabled email addresses that had bounced in the past. We're working closely with our outbound email provider to restore notifications to every affected email address. Tender has recieved more than 148,000 email bounces in the last year, so it's taking us some time to confirm everything is 100% OK.
If you've noticed a lack of email notifications from Tender, please email email@example.com, and and we'll kick those into gear right away. In the meantime, we will continue restore email notifications to those who have been affected. We should to have everything back to normal soon.
I'm a little neurotic when it comes to email. Everything in my inbox is labelled and color coded so I can easily skim over incoming support for our two services vs regular email.
Google Apps opened the flood gates for businesses who need a powerful mail client and web based tools at virtually no cost. In fact, a vast majority of Tender customers use Google Apps for email.
One really awesome trick that a lot of people tend overlook is the ability to filter Tender emails from a mailing list within Gmail. Every Tender account has a unique mailing list ID that enables Gmail's filtering by mailing list feature. I use it for a quick way to apply labels to Tender discussions.
How to be like me with Gmail and Tender
Open any email notification from Tender in Gmail
Click on Show Details
Click the Filter messages from mailing list link
Gmail with automatically pull in the filter for emails on this mailing list. You can set any additional fields for the filter you might desire (I just leave it all as is).
Click Next Step for more options so you can apply a label.
Click on Create Filter button (apply to previous Tender emails if you want).
That's it! You'll now have labels applied to all email notifications sent from your Tender account.
MapBox provides a series of tools that allow you to design, host and share your custom maps. They also have a BEAUTIFUL support site!
I stumbled across MapBox while doing some research for a side project. There isn't anything more rewarding than discovering an awesome service that’s using Tender for its customer support.
"The workflow (in Tender) is great," says Will White, a developer at Development Seed who works on MapBox. "It's easy for people to start discussions, and we can quickly turn emails into support requests. It's also great that the developers can have back-channel conversations directly on the discussions."
What's even more awesome is that the crew over at Development Seed release their code as open-source software. If you do any type of mapping work, be sure to check MapBox out.
MapBox for iPad
Share maps with anyone, anywhere on the iPad.
More Info: http://mapbox.com/#/ipad
What does $15/mo get you? Just an amazingly beautiful online storefront powered by Goodsie. It also gives you access to their awesome customer support team, who happen to be running their support operation through Tender. Win + Win!
Back when the HiiDef crew launched Flavors.me, we were instantly blown away. We said it then and we'll say it again, this crew will really make you rethink how you build software as a service. They also never fall short of impressing us with their custom Tender designs.
We’ve been busy shipping bug fixes for Tender. Here is a list of the big items that we shipped today:
- Updated - Performance improvements for the Dashboard
- Fixed - Knowledge Base sorting not working in IE
- Fixed - Dashboard Category filter failing to display correct items
- Fixed - Queue counter fails to display correct counts until you drop a new item into the queue
- Fixed - Pinned Queue dropdown in Dashboard showing inconsistent data
- Fixed - Pinned Queue Show More renders JSON on the front-end
- Fixed - Intermittent errors while editing a comment
- Fixed - Mark as Read / View All errors in the User Inbox
- Fixed - Intermittent errors when viewing User Profile pages
- Fixed - API is failing to render pagination
- Fixed - API single quotes in JSON breaking API
At approximately 3:48 AM PST Tender experienced a technical problem during a routine database backup. The secondary database server started to leak memory while the backup was running, causing Tender to go down.
Service to Tender was restored at 10:24 AM PST. All inbound emails that were queued during this time have been processed and Tender is running normally.
Today’s outage is unfortunate and unacceptable. We’re working as hard as we can to prevent such an outage from happening again.
What we did with the rest of our Sunday
The first order of business was to figure out why our alert notifications failed. We’re a small company and we rely on alert notifications to warn us if anything goes wrong during off hours. Our phones are supposed to blow up the instant something goes wrong. That ball was totally dropped this morning, so we've implemented a fallback for alert notifications should the first line of defense ever fail again.
Next? Deal with the actual problem. Our secondary database server, the source of the downtime, handles routine backups and miscellaneous services that Tender uses. We’ve moved these additional services that Tender relies on to a new server. In the future, should the secondary database server ever have a problem, it won’t affect Tender at all.
This morning we were down for approximately 90 minutes while a few thousand cheerful zombies attacked Tender's servers. We're back up now. Specifically, it looks like a fairly straightfoward DDOS against one of our clients. We're currently adding some automated rate-limiting functionality to our stack so it will be more difficult for someone to take us down in future like this. Sorry for the downtime, guys!
(by the way, you can buy that print from Jason Chan, the artist.)
Last time I posted, I left you with an image that looks a bit like this:
Offhand, that might seem to not be a particularly optimistic chart to talk about when we're talking about Tender's revenue (at least from a profit perspective). There's a bit more data that we have up our sleeve that make us feel optimistic even about this potentially daunting chart.
Fortunately we have been in a position where our consulting work with various client have been able to subsidize our development of Tender (and it sister-application, Lighthouse). This has permitted us to build Tender without having to seek outside investment. And because of THAT, we don't have growth quotas, or quarterly profit requirements, or a fund chasing after us to build a sales team that outnumbers our product team (as a matter of fact, we have no sales team members, all of our team is dedicated to the development and support of our products).
In part because we have been free to set our own functional requirements without (too much) regard for quick profitability, we've been able to focus on making Tender not just a good customer support solution, but an application that keeps providing value over the years. That might sound like a lot of fluff, but consider this:
In this chart above, this shows the fraction of people who have ever been paying Tender customers that are still current paying customers. TL;DR: 63% of all customers from March 09 are still customers in March 2011. This works out over 24 months to be a less than 1.6% churn rate monthly. MBAs and business team folks in the audience can corroborate when I say anything under 2.5% is exceptionally low, when one can expect anywhere between 1% and 10% to be typical, we're pushing right up to the edge of extremely high retention.
Another thing that you can see from the chart above (if you had the original numbers) is the following stat. I'm going to put it in bold, because this is something we're especially proud of...
79.44% of all paying Tender customers, ever, are still with us.
This chart below shows the monthly growth rate of revenues, you've also probably seen this in the last blog post:
As you can see, after every large bump in revenues, we had a period about a month or so later where we experienced some decreases; when we have a large influx of new customers, we expect a certain number of them not to stay with us. But if you look closely at the January 2011 part of the graph, you might be able to see something unprecedented: A significant growth period (November-December 2010) followed by a month that did NOT exhibit negative growth. Not only are we making Tender a better application as fast as we reasonably can with our small team, we're doing a better job than ever of keeping our current customers.
We have spent a lot of money on Tender since months before our public launch, and we consider all of that to be valuable investment in keeping our customers happy (nearly 4 in 5 of all Tender customers ever are still with us, if I may shamelessly repeat myself), but we have also been focusing on our team's makeup to focus on building new functionality for the product, and supporting our product with personal responses from everyone on the team (where each person's expertise lies). For the first 2 months ever during the development of Tender, we have been monthly positive on costs:
While we don't expect this to continue indefinitely (we still will be maximizing our investment in our product), we've been able to keep Tender growing organically and been able to keep ourselves free of external entanglements that could take our eye off the ball. With our focus on dev and support, we've been able to keep our customers happy enough that our retention and growth are both at fantastic levels.