FreshBooks: Software Developer

FreshBooks is looking for a Software Developer.  Normally, I’d segueway right into a description of the job here, but there’s a pleasing backstory here that’ll set up the rest of this post.  A few months ago, I wrote about the job of Agile Web Development Manager for FreshBooks, and Corey Reid saw that posting, responded, and got the job, which he seems to be enjoying.

Now that he/they are looking to grow the team by adding a Software Developer, he’s come full circle by letting me know there’s another job at FreshBooks open, if I’m interested in posting about it.  And, indeed, I am.  Partly because of the backstory: A toronto technology jobs reader gets one of the posted jobs, then comes back to suggest new postings for the new company.  But also, because I’m impressed by FreshBooks.

Here’s what they’re looking for:

We need fresh-thinking, disciplined developers who don’t sneer at scripting languages but also know their enterprise-level design. In return, we supply a stable, creative environment (want a Mac? got Ubuntu? No problem!) with a competitive compensation package, and the sort of collaboration that comes out of just wanting to get things done, not from the latest IEEE-mandated “best practice”.

[D]esigning and developing our popular online application and the tools we use to run our business behind the scenes — you should be able to figure out what that entails. You’ll learn hands-on about our industry and our customers, and you’ll be figuring out how to make them happy, and then going ahead and doing it.

  • 3 years’ experience building online applications
  • 2-3 years experience with object-oriented development
  • Serious SQL chops
  • Communication skills like whoa (you better be able to talk to customers on the phone (yes, we talk to our customers on the phone))

FreshBooks describes themselves this way:

Love the fast-paced and creative environment of a start-up, but could do without the stress and chaos?  FreshBooks has been around for more than five years now and has a fanatical fan base of over 400,000 people who use our groundbreaking Web 2.0 application.

Personally, I’ve used FreshBooks’ product, found it easy to use and more than capable for the simple tasks I threw at it.  I think they’ve done an excellent job getting potential customers in the door through the freemiuim model, and then potentially getting revenue as their little fish grow in the way they use the product.  I’m inclined to believe that if FreshBooks keeps at it, they’re almost certainly going places (although perhaps they’re already “getting places”, I can’t say.

The Good
First and foremost, I think FreshBooks is an interesting company that stands a reasonable chance at success.  And, although I’ve only had a few conversations with him, Corey Reid seems like a nice enough guy, with a sense of humor, but also an earnestness about making a difference.

Secondly, because their application is public and easy to access, you can try the thing out before you apply for the job.  That’s rare, in Toronto.  Using it and building it are different, but it’s nice to get some sense of what you might be working on.

The Bad
Well, it’s a startup, so even with reasonable funding, there’s a question as to the compensation.  Although “competitive compensation package” implies it might not be awful, that also doesn’t mean it’s good.  They’re not looking for tons of experience, so that might be another cue with respect to the salary.  You’ll have to talk to them to sort this out.

And, despite some gentle prodding from me, there are still things I don’t know about the job, some of which might matter to you.  For instance, there’s limited references to specific technology.  Last I heard, this was a PHP shop, but there have been occasional Ruby references, so it’s hard to feel like I’ve got a concrete story to tell you in that regard.  The role, company and work seem to get reasonable descriptions.

YMMV
The location‘s probably good for some, bad for others.  At roughly Glencairn and Dufferin, I’m inclined to say that it’s not ideal for a TTC commute.  If you’re not already midtown, uptown, or in the burbs, that location’s probably both inconvenient and lacking in the little touches that a great neighbourhood can offer.  That said, if you’re vehicle-commuting, or not too far away from that location already, it might be a good fit.  Besides, in your lunch hours, you can do some shopping for design stuff on Castlefield and deals up on Cartwright and Orfus.

Working in a startup’s not for everyone.  If you’re hoping for the kind of environment where you can spend a week surfing Slashdot before someone notices you’re done the last thing they asked you to do, you want to work for a bank, not FreshBooks.  I’m not going to go on and on about the differences between a startup job and an enterprise job, but they exist, and there are both good and bad sides to the coin.

In Summary
If this sounds good to you, and the location works, then I’d be happy to recommend you drop them a line.  I’ll let Cory Reid know when this post comes up, so if you have questions you want to fire off here, feel free to post a comment, and I’ll see if I can get him to respond.

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5 Responses to FreshBooks: Software Developer

  1. Corey says:

    The technology is PHP/MySQL/Apache, but we’re open to anyone with experience in similar languages. PHP is easy enough to pick up that somebody with a couple of years of, say, Ruby development won’t have a serious ramp-up period, so we want to be flexible.

  2. bryanf says:

    I’ve applied for one or two sysadmin jobs at FreshBooks, never heard back, which isn’t particularly surprising given that I’m probably more qualified and asking for more than most startups are interested in unless they’re hiring team leads.

    Anyway, regarding location, northern parts of Toronto are rather a pain for anyone commuting from the ‘burbs too. GO trains all go to Union, then TTC back out from there. Driving is horrible on the 400-series highways during morning and afternoon rush hours. It’s possible to do, but you’re looking 1.5-2hrs commute either way in many cases.

    Luckily I found a job in the downtown core, so now just have a straight 50min GO train ride (assuming no delays) to the city, then a quick walk from Union to the office.

  3. Geoffrey Wiseman says:

    Ah, fair enough – so it’s really best for people who are mid-town to up-town, and/or vehicle commuting, rather than the many GO Commuters — although what “works for you” is always your call.

  4. Corey says:

    We’re a ten-minute walk from Glencairn station, by the way.

  5. […] FreshBooks Web Developer FreshBooks is still looking for a web developer, or possibly looking for another web developer.  Although I don’t love their location, I […]

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