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Developing a full-stack team while launching a new product

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Company Type
Subscription ecommerce
Location
NYC
Challenge
Launch new product line
Solution
Ruby on Rails, Mentorship
Outcome
Rearchitected subscription flow, quality code, upskilled team

Bark & Co. is a venture-backed consumer product and services company out of NYC. You’ve probably heard of their popular flagship product, BarkBox, which provides a monthly delivery of innovative treats and toys for your dog. Since their founding in 2011 they’ve shipped over 10 million BarkBoxes!

As Bark grows, so too does their product offering. It was at one such inflection point that they reached out to thoughtbot NYC to collaborate.

“ thoughtbot has a team of senior developers who can come in and get running on any project you need with great perspective and process, without being dogmatic. They start making an impact immediately. ”

Becky Segal, VP Engineering, Bark Becky Segal, VP Engineering, Bark

Challenge

VP of Engineering, Becky Segal, realized she needed to add capacity in order to launch a business-critical gift subscription product in time for the holidays. Her team was thin on senior developers though, especially on the Rails side.

If taking the work on independently, the Bark developers would be forced to halt on other products and work late hours to achieve the ambitious launch plan. This risked a devastating blow to morale that Becky wasn’t willing to take.

And there was more to it than just adding developer headcount. In addition to hitting the product roadmap milestone, she recognized the importance of investing in her team’s development so that they could seamlessly take over and handle this work in the future.

Solution

thoughtbot and Bark got to work rewriting the checkout flow to handle gift subscriptions. Once the gift subscription flow was finished, the team expanded the same treatment to the overall shopping cart and checkout flow, with an eye towards extensibility and maintenance.

thoughtbot worked with Bark to introduce larger design patterns to unify the frontend codebase and test-driven development was introduced to the JavaScript frontend. This was done through ping-pong pair programming to ensure the Bark devs understood the process and could continue it themselves. Through pairing, thoughtbot demonstrated how to navigate the full stack, from the JavaScript frontend to the Rails server and back. thoughtbot also periodically met with the teams’ product managers to advise on team development.

Outcome

After teaming with thoughtbot, the Bark engineering team successfully pushed the new product in time for the holiday. The new architecture performed so well that the team proceeded to work on integrating other product areas beyond gift subscriptions. Becky decided to continue working with thoughtbot after the holiday season came and went, both on product development and mentorship.

When it came to mentorship, there was even more upside for Bark. The junior developers responded enthusiastically to pairing with thoughtbot. Formerly dedicated frontend or backend JavaScript developers began working full stack and leveling up on Rails. Since the engagement concluded, the team has continued to embrace and practice thoughtbot process and methodology for quality product development to much success.

“ We have a close-knit team and they all loved having thoughtbot here. They are a pleasure to work with. ”

Becky Segal, VP Engineering, Bark Becky Segal, VP Engineering, Bark

Image of full-stack pup in Bark office via Entrepreneur.com

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