As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the tend.ly team and I spend a massive amount of time penning marketing-heavy narratives focused specifically on telling you about our product, how we’ve helped a litany of customers in the Early Childhood Education & Senior Care spaces, and positing ideas about how we could potentially help your center. Today, however, I’d like to offer up a different view – I’d like to pull back the curtains on tend.ly as a company, strip away the marketing jargon & most of the industry-specific parlance and give you a first-hand account of our team, our product & why I made the decision to join the team.
Since I graduated from Anderson University in 2004, I’ve spent roughly 99.9% of my career in software. (For those of you keeping track at home, that’s roughly 12 years.) I’ve worked for a broad range of companies, from early-stage startups to multi-national corporations like Salesforce.com. While I incessantly wore a number of different hats (As Mike Rowe says, “Somebody’s gotta do it!”) I focused primarily on getting customers up and running on our software and making sure they were happy. Somewhere around the start of the 11th year of my career, I burned out. I decided to take a hiatus, of sorts, and spent several months focused solely on living – not working. I picked up a few new hobbies, read more books than I had in the 3 years prior & took every opportunity I could get to sneak my boys out of child care & preschool early to go on adventures. I reflected on where I’d been and where I wanted to go. I rested. It was delightful, but, having become accustomed to a high-stress, goal-driven, always-on way of life, I was anxious to find my next adventure. Before I got too comfortable in my dirt-bag/slacker lifestyle, Caitlin, tend.ly’s Founder & CEO, reached out to me and asked me to join the team. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t blink. I didn’t stop chewing up my bite of Pizzology pizza. I just blurted out an emphatic “Yes!” Why? Well, there are 5 reasons, really. Allow me to elaborate.
- The team. I’ve known Caitlin for half of a decade – I worked with her husband Matt at 3 previous companies. I think the world of both of them. They are immensely intelligent, ablaze with passion, understand the value of integrity and are lifelong learners. Caitlin, specifically, is the champion of tend.ly’s incredible culture and an incredible leader, to boot. She hires the right people and gets out of their way, trusting them to do their job. The team she’s created thus far shares those same values. And, to top it off, our team is comprised of parents and children. (Of course we’re children. Bear with me here.) Each of us sees our company and it’s platform through the dual lens of being parents to children that are either attending, recently attended or are about to attend an Early Childhood Education Center and being the children & grandchildren of parents & grandparents that are either preparing to become or have already become guests in the world of Senior Care. In short, as a team, we have a truly unique perspective on our market. We live it daily. Tend.ly solves a problem that each and every one of us has – Staying engaged with our loved ones on a daily basis.
The Product. Hands down, the tend.ly platform is world-class, from the way it’s been designed, architected & built to it’s supreme stability. In my 12 years in the software industry, I’ve seen very few software platforms that are as elegant, easy to use & as robust as tend.ly. In fact, the core tenants of our development philosophy are a beautiful design, an incredibly easy to learn & use interface and a bombproof, flexible architecture. Mission accomplished! Double-clicking on the flexible aspect – Our product team is also customer-driven. First, we have invested countless hours seeking guidance from both our customers and building relationships with industry experts so we can deliver the highest value product possible. This also keeps us on the forefront of innovation. Our flexible platform allows us to innovate, update & enhance tend.ly with ease. Secondly, we work with each customer, at the onset of our engagements, to figure out exactly what they need to get the most value out of tend.ly. We then customize it accordingly.
Our Customers. I love our customers. First of all, I haven’t met a customer or potential customer that wasn’t just delightful & easy to do business with. Sure, I’m sure the bad ones are out there, but we have somehow mastered the art of attracting the fantastic ones! Secondly, I completely & wholeheartedly appreciate what each and everyone one of them does – Whether it’s caring for children or adults. To this day, it still boggles my mind how good our customers are at caring for those that are, well, in their care. I have two boys at home – a 2 and a 3 year old. On my best day, I can barely manage both of them in the 3 hours between dinner time and bedtime. (I don’t even want to talk about how miserable I am at getting them up, dressed, fed and out the door in the morning.) How someone is able to manage a classroom full of them is beyond me. Alas, I sleep so soundly at night knowing that there are individuals out there that have such immense capacities for & abilities to care for others. Finally, I love our customers because they bring value to tend.ly as a company. At the end of the day, all we have in this world are relationships. Caitlin instilled very early on that relationships with our customers are of utmost importance – Sure, we bring value to them through our platform, but they also bring immense value to us. They help us figure out what works and what doesn’t, help us understand which features & improvements to add, keep us on our toes and constantly show & remind us what true service is.
- The Vision. When you have a team of passionate, dedicated, intelligent people trusted to do what they do best, great things happen. When you focus on building lasting relationships with your customers and encourage them to share advice, feedback & guidance, then layer it on top of the thoughts & ideas that come from your team, incredible things happen. Early on, we encouraged our customers to come to us with “what if’s”. After seeing the impact that simple question had in our relationships with our customers, we built it into our culture, encouraging everyone to ask that same question. What if. It’s so simple, yet so powerful. Freedom to ask that simple question is the essence of vision. And, to be completely honest, we strive to be visionaries. We strive to build a tool of unmatched value that harnesses the technological advances we see & experience on a daily basis, in every walk of life. We strive to build a tool of unmatched value that harnesses the power of data, the power and connectivity of the burgeoning Internet of Things, and the power of the impending seismic technological shift in the markets we serve.
The Opportunity. Let me restate the last sentence I wrote: …the power of the impending seismic technological shift in the markets we serve. Today, there is an immense opportunity in the ECE and Senior Care markets. From day one, we realized that there is a significant technological gap that exists within the entire continuum of care. The market is historically underserved, in a technological sense. The solutions that exist are fragmented, closed off, poorly designed and difficult to use. But a sea-change is coming – Our goal is to be on the front lines, leading the way. With a solid, unabashed vision, alongside a stellar product, an incredible team and wonderful customers, we realize we are perfectly positioned to seize this opportunity. But wait, there’s more to the opportunity than that. Sure, this perfect storm of opportunity, vision, product & team put us in a position to bring exceptional value to our customers, but the opportunity is bigger than that. At the end of the day, we’re just parents & software nerds. There are a litany of software companies that have all of these things, do all of these things and are capable of bringing immense value to their customers. Our charge goes beyond that. Sure, we’re creating a tool that helps you engage with families of loved ones, but think bigger. What’s the outcome of substantially increasing engagement between yourselves, the individuals in your care and their family members? Exactly. The opportunity that we’ve squared our aim at is providing a way for people to be incessantly connected with their loved ones. The prosperity of interpersonal relationships when this level of connectedness exists is unmatched. The benefits are innumerable. The emotional fulfillment is immense. That’s the true opportunity before us. Build stronger relationships when circumstance says otherwise. That’s what the tend.ly team is here to do. And that’s why I’m on board.