Boom! Five new developers on one day.

The hiring drought in our Berlin HQ is over! Our development team just grew from 8 to 13 developers, and we’ve been able to find a perfect mix too: We’re joined by two Java developers (Alison and Tobias, left-center and right), two AngularJS developers (Alexandre and Peter, middle) and one UI/UX developer (Kristof, left).

Five in one day? Surely we’ve lowered our expectations?

Not at all. 2014 was a very slow year, but since October we’re seeing a really steady stream of good applications. It took us a while to get there: Lots of employer branding, conference attendance and sponsorships, meet-ups and blog posts, and of course ads on BSJ were required, but the work has finally paid off. And our grilling process has remained exactly the same as always: Informal phone call, one or two on-site interviews, and then 2 days of trial work. No magic, just friendly applicant-grilling.

Admittedly, it’s sheer coincidence that everyone wanted to start on the same date. We made an offer to Peter as early as February, and then we inked contracts with Tobias and Alison in March. For a long time we thought that was it, until Kristof and Alexandre signed up merely three weeks ago, also with a starting date of June 1st. Crazy!

So in summary, there’s no secret sauce, and our applicant pipeline is now dry. ūüė¶

What’s next?

The first week was a huge success already, we’ve conducted a proper on-boarding exercise that included plenty of technical presentations, meet&greet with the international CS team, pair-programming and naturally computer setup. It’s Friday evening now, and the first small feature improvements are already on master and deployed to production.

We’ve expanded each sub-team a bit (5 on objectives, 4 on user-import, 4 on the improvements team) and then most likely we’ll move to a 4-subteams-config once everyone has truly settled in. We’re not expecting miracles during the first couple of weeks, but since the grilling process was pretty intense we’re very confident that our feature&refactoring-throughput will increase substantially. Go team!

PS: We’re still looking for a Senior Java developer.

Company Update Q1 2015: New office, 500 customers, $800k revenue

Time flies, and it’s spring already!

We’ve completed an outstanding Q1, we’ve moved office, and we’re celebrating our office warming party Thursday next week! But let’s see in slightly more detail. Here’s the summary from our recent all-hands meeting.

Finance

Our revenues have gone through the roof in Q1, we collected almost $800k in those three months. We now have over 500 customers, and our MRR is approaching $200k.

All-Hands_April_2015

All-Hands_April_2015

The outlook is very positive, we already collected $100k in the first two weeks of April, but we do expect to see lower revenues in Q2 since many companies prepay for the year and customer activity is typically lower in summer. No worries though, the overall trend is upwards.

Product

We’ve shipped several improved features in Q1 (objectives overview, messages rewrite, guidance hints) and some large¬† improvements are close to launch. Our growing dev team has definitely picked up steam!

All-Hands_April_2015

Support & Customer Success

Our support load had gone up considerably in Q1 due to lots of new customers, but the response time hasn’t suffered, typically we resolve support tickets within 24 hours. Lots of product improvements have been implemented to address commonly asked questions and challenges clients run into

Recruiting

We’ve managed to sign 3 contracts and the fourth offer has been verbally accepted, so by July our Berlin team should consist of 16 people, bringing our company total to 20. Our new office is very spacious though, so probably it will take till autumn until we really make use of all rooms!

Even more detail

These are the slides from our recent All-lhands meeting, containing a lot more detail about features shipped and projects worked on.

Office warming party on Thursday 23rd!

We moved into our new office over a month ago, so it’s basically 5 past 12 for our office warming party.

We’re inviting colleagues, clients and friends to celebrate springtime and our new office too! Starting 7pm on Thursday 23rd of April, take a look at our new office in Berlin Mitte, have a few drinks, discuss the future of SI, or simply enjoy some good music!

Please let us know how many of you will be showing up, so we can plan ahead.

Neue Schönhauser Str 13
10178 Berlin

Our new office has doors.

Update: Here’s our official office-tour page.

We’ve loved our old office because it was very pretty, and its open layout allowed us to grow from 3 staff to 11 while being very flexible with our desks. We’ve hosted our international team members and had sufficient space to run public BBQs and Meetups. The old office cost us about $1600 per month for 115 square meters – a total bargain.

But also, it was getting noisy once we grew beyond 6 staff. Discussions needed to get planned ahead (or moved to a caf√© nearby), and every applicant who came in was yet another distraction. We didn’t realize just how densely packed it was until seeing the bird’s eye perspective in our time-lapse moving-out-video:

Startups don’t have to use open plan offices

We don’t believe in open plan offices, but we’re not fans of private offices either. In our opinion, every team should have their room, and teams should be between 2 and 4 people. Teams should be able to chat and discuss without disrupting everyone else. Unfortunately, finding a matching office in Berlin is tough, at least if you want the office to be beautiful as well. Most beautiful offices were either too small, or only supported open plan layouts.

But after 5 months of reading very many ads, we finally signed a lease and moved in last week. We’re still busy refurbishing, painting and buying furniture and lamps, but it was worth the wait!

The office has a very interesting floor plan, no room is like the other, and there are lots of wide doors. We can keep the doors open for maximum inter-team communication, or close them during discussions. We’re placing couches into most rooms to support impromptu meetings, and there are several large and small rooms for longer discussions too.

New_Berlin_office_-_General_-_Confluence

There’s still a lot of furniture missing, and several rooms require renovation and painting, but here are two glimpses into what it’s going to be like:

IMG_0520-Edit(1)

IMG_0543(1)

Pricey, but…

The price tag is roughly $7000 per month (including heating and taxes), which is quite the stiff price tag for 270 square meters in Berlin. But location and style do matter for employer branding, and doors and flexible room sizes are crucial for productivity and employee happiness, so we see it as an investment. And yes, even as a startup you need to invest, and the benefits of a great office (with doors) outweigh the costs by far.

Fun facts:

  • The new office used to be a personal shopping area for a fancy clothing store downstairs, and we’ve kept the style of most rooms.
  • There used to be an actual bar in the red room above. It was taking too much space though, so we bought a (supposedly) 1830s travel-bar at an auction instead
  • O2 wasn’t able to provide internet within 4 weeks, so we’re using LTE for 11 people in the first two weeks. It worked surprisingly well once everyone had turned off automatic system updates…

We’re far from done renovating, but we’ll host a house warming party once we are. So ping us if you’d like to pop over for a drink from the mobile bar!

Unexpected UX session with the customer success team

Being a distributed team we can never communicate “too much”, so we’re making it a habit to always share news and recurring things like meeting minutes on our intranet.

But the best thing is when communication between teams “just happens”.

Below I shared a screenshot for an improved “this list is empty”-screen. First, nothing happened at all. Then the next day the customer success team in San Francisco noticed and started making suggestions. It turned from pure language-level suggestions into a real review of the user experience of that screen (the discussion went on for two more screens), and the resulting screen is of course much better than what we initially came up with in the Berlin office.

Screenshot_08_02_15_14_26

It’s nothing earth-shattering, I know, but I really love this cross team/ cross timezone thing, and how well it can work out even for the small things. We usually post feature specifications onto Confluence since it’s better suited for larger discussions, but using Hipchat for all the small things is just as great.

Company Update Q4/2014 and 2015 outlook

Another amazing quarter has ended, and so has a very successful 2014. We hosted our distributed company-all hands meeting to revisit the past quarter and to also discuss upcoming challenges and roadmap considerations, so here’s a summary of where SI is heading

Financial

Q4 saw an extreme boost in revenues, which is partly due to seasonal effects (most customers tend to feel the pain the most during annual reviews) but it’s much stronger than last year (and January is going just as strong as December).

all-hands_january_2015

What’s odd is that our MRR didn’t rise as quickly, there was in fact a certain slowdown. It turns out that a few of our larger customers have moved from annual to monthly billing and that some invoices didn’t get paid in time, and this shows on the MRR chart instantly. Nothing to be worried about really, and the peek into future MRR looks pretty normal again, but it’s something to watch nonetheless.

Screenshot_22_01_15_20_24

all-hands_january_2015Team & Recruiting

Our team grew by 2 full-stack developers and one AngularJS developer in November, and we signed a contract with another Angular-developer with a starting-date of January 15, so we’ve increased our dev capacity by over 60%. Obviously there’s a ramp-up time until everyone is as productive as the old hands, but we’re seeing more features and bugfixes per week already.

Thanks to this growth we’ve now been able to split the team into “fluid subteams”: One focusing on objectives, one revamping the user import, and one swat team that takes care of all the small bugfixes and improvements plus a few mid-sized items. We’ll call the teams “fluid” because nobody gets locked in, we’re still sharing knowledge like crazy, and everyone will be able to switch teams after a few months or whenever a team’s task is completed.

Development and Product

We’ve launched several smaller but important admin changes and the rewritten objectives overview is now in beta (see release notes). But there are some other really exciting projects close to completion but which weren’t ready to launch yet. Here’s a preview since they are too pretty to be left out.

We’re working on a cycle roadmap feature (it’s highly interactive and the screenshot doesn’t do it justice):

all-hands_january_2015

And we’ll be overhauling our objectives entirely, adding improved view-, create- and edit-screens. Here’s a peek at the “radar view” prototype (far from final, nowhere close to shipping):

objectives-stream

Full presentation

Here’s the entire deck with lots of additional insight into our roadmap and other company details:

Company Update Q3 2014

Q3 ended a while ago, but somehow November was crazy with sick leave, so here’s a belated summary of what we’ve done in Q3:

Financials

revenues-q3-2014
Our revenues continue to point upwards, and Q3 was our best quarter to date. Nice, but could be better. Well, taking into account Q2 was already pretty good we won’t complain. Especially thanks to our MRR:

mrr_q3_2014

Remember the ugly dent on the MRR from last time? We’re quite glad it was only a temporary glitch, maybe due to vacation time. Our MRR growth has bounced back and we’re looking at a neat linear growth (possibly a bit more than linear).

Development and Product

We’ve launched two new integrations: Yammer and Bonusly, and we re-launched our user directory in August too. We rolled out our new website style thanks our our super-intern Ingo, and there’s also a new handsome release-notes page, plus plenty of small improvements. Next up we’re working on the objectives overview and several other smaller projects.

Team & Recruiting

Going strong! We hired our straight-out-of-school intern Ingo one month into his internship, he really is that awesome. And the future looks bright too: In addition to Michael (whom we already mentioned in our Q2 update) we also managed to make Andi an offer, and he starts on November 1st as well. Two new full-time/full-stack starters means Q4 will see a huge uptake on features. We’re in talks with another frontend-developer for a starting date in January, fingers crossed.