WillowTree Reviews

Updated June 10, 2015
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WillowTree CEO Tobias A. Dengel
Tobias A. Dengel
39 Ratings

44 Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (4)

    I've found work'topia

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - User Experience Strategist in Charlottesville, VA
    Current Employee - User Experience Strategist in Charlottesville, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at WillowTree full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    People * I feel completely trusted and supported by the people here; my coworkers are bright and talented. If I ever feel stuck, or if I want to bounce an idea around, I am surrounded by curious and engaging coworkers. It's a great feeling knowing that people here have my back. Interesting Work * The work here is - to be honest - just so interesting. I wake up each morning excited to work on my projects, which span all sorts of industries and subject matter. I could work on an edgy healthcare solution, a video-streaming media app, or a live event app. There are always new, user-centered puzzles to be solved. * Additionally, WillowTree sets a budget each year for research and development to make sure the company is tackling new and innovative technologies. It's exciting knowing that our talents will grow each year and won't get stale in a deadline-driven cycle. Professional Development * There are rarely closed doors here; if there's a new tool or a better way of doing things, people are genuinely interested in hearing about it. I feel empowered to take my work in the direction it needs. * As a benefit, each employee can attend a relevant conference each year, supported by the company! Promotions * As there is generally little overhead here, hard work is directly noticed. The organization here is flat by design, which lets coworkers directly interact with each other. If someone is working hard, people pay attention.

    Cons

    I spend too much money on coffee, as we're right next to gourmet coffee shops

    Advice to Management

    Keep it up!


  2. Helpful (2)

    Fast Moving

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Charlottesville, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Charlottesville, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at WillowTree full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    WillowTree is working with some of the highest profile consumer mobile apps and is working with unreleased technology. Shorter projects and fluid teams means you get to help ship multiple large projects per year. Seeings applications you've worked on being used in the real world is an amazing feeling.

    Cons

    As a growing company, some process elements are still being defined. For example, two weeks ago there was almost a mixup on who was going to buy the Friday beer.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work, continue to promote from within


  3. Helpful (7)

    Great software company that values it's employees.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at WillowTree full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    There's a lot of good things to say about WillowTree. Development: * There's a ton of freedom in choosing the technology you want to use. You're usually running your end of the project, so you choose the stack. If you have a better solution or a solution that works better for your project- great. You're not constricted. * More often than before projects have two people per platform. This is *great* because it leads to better code, faster deliverables, and less stress. There's also a sort of "built in" code review process when working in small teams that I think can be better than the traditional "some other guy sort of looks at the code and approves it" reviewing. * On the iOS side of things the company does a good job at following Apple's best practices as far as supporting the newest OS and devices goes. * I've made a few apps that have ended up featured by apple or other apple blogs, and that's an amazing feeling. A lot of personal goals have been met working on willowtree projects. You'll make stuff that will be used be millions of people- which is the coolest thing about software development in my opinion. Learning: * Having been at WillowTree so long I can say that I've never seen people grow as fast anywhere else (Including myself). We have a lot of great people here from all walks of life and they all have something new to bring to the table. * You may work on an AV project for a bit, then a health care project, then a location aware project, etc. This is great because you'll get to explore all sorts of APIs that you wouldn't get exposure to if you were always working on the same type of application. * If you want to flirt with technologies that aren't in your job description this is a great place to do it. I usually end up harassing the web and android teams about my little side projects all the time and they love offering their talent and knowledge. Clients: * I've worked with probably 10+ clients in my time here and I've really enjoyed all of them. I've have a lot of long lasting relationships with client's I'd consider good friends. * You interact with a lot of client development teams which can be a lot of fun. WillowTree is great at embedding itself into other companies when working with them. A few clients have told me that it feels more like working with co-workers than contractors when working with WillowTree. * You'll end up with some high profile clients and (though less often these days) some start up / new clients. Both of their upsides and downsides! Culture: * You are responsible for you and your project. Make sure you get your stuff done and always ask for help if you need it. You'll have no problems if you stay on top of things and keep everyone in the know. * WillowTree feels more like a group of friends then a bunch of co-workers. This has become more and more obvious as I've worked with more clients. It's rare to see the level of friendship and interaction that I see in our office in other offices. * As we've grown we're losing a little bit of the "everyone knows everyone" feeling but that's ok in some ways. It can be stressful to try to stay on top of every person and every project. * We all hang out outside of work. We do music, food, trips, sports, side projects, all kinds of stuff. * We've always had a hacker culture / R&D sort of motive. It gets awkward sometimes due to the space and amount of people, but there's something to be said for the fact that we're always trying to keep that alive and improve it. * I really love my co-workers and it's the best part of my day. * We do team lunches which is a fun way to share stuff with the team. We're getting to be a pretty big team (10 or 15 or so) so sometimes it's kind of awkward, especially when going out to eat as a team. Management: * Though I don't get to talk to them as much as I used to due to the growth and busy schedules, the CTO and CEO genuinely care about you and your project. They want you to be happy and writing good software, and they'll do anything within reason to help you do that. * Our new VP of software development is a really smart guy, and I think he's going to lead to a lot of good decisions down the road. * All of the team leads are very knowledgeable and great at what they do. My (iOS) team lead has been a huge influence on me and will always listen and help when he can. I really appreciate all the hard work these guys do and couldn't see myself being able to juggle so much responsibility they way they do it. * If you have a problem, a better way to do something, or a suggestion- tell someone. They'll actually listen. I was scared that as we got bigger this wouldn't be the case, but as we now have more resources we're able to do a lot more with peoples suggestions. Work / Life Balance: * "Back in the day" we all worked some pretty crazy hours, but we were so close and were having such a good time that it didn't really bother us so much. But that kind of thing isn't sustainable, and WillowTree is handling that. * If you manage your time and project correctly you'll work a fairly normal work week, 40-50 hours or so. * Towards the end of projects it's not unusual to have those few weeks of crunch time. I'd consider this normal for most any software company, especially client services. * Some people kind of end up getting screwed with 2 or more active projects and 1 or more maintenance projects. WillowTree is actively trying to ensure this doesn't happen with some new processes, but again with client service companies this is going to be a challenge. Location: * The office is right on the downtown mall. This means we're right by tons of great places to shop / eat / go out / coffee / whatever. This is a huge perk. * You'll get a parking pass to the water street garage. I live out of town so this is super nice when I want to hang out in cville on the weekends- prime parking for free! Design / UX: * Again having worked with a lot of other clients and their (lack of) design teams, we're very lucky to have the people we have. Our VP of UX has a good eye for hiring people who know what they're doing. I'm always impressed with what comes out of design and I think that's a lot more important to the development process than a lot of people acknowledge. * UX isn't just a buzzword at WillowTree- when these guys make designs they really think things through. QA: * We have an amazing QA team. I love these guys. You can submit your software to the app store and clients without being nervous and stressed out because it will have been hammered by these wonderful people. PM: * I really love interacting with clients and planning out how I want to do my project. I really don't love orchestrating all sides of a project on the WillowTree and client side. In the past it's usually been up to a WillowTree designer or developer to do this, but we're moving to PMs now (thank you thank you thank you) which is amazing. I *love* our PMs and they do an amazing job. Let's get more! Hardware / Software needs: * You'll get a nice new Macbook to work with, and if you ever need anything else they'll get it for you. Same goes for software. Salary / Benefits: * 401K is great. They'll have a guy some in and explain how it all works now and then before you go guess how to setup the stock things and pretend you know how to do that sort of stuff. * Insurance is good as far as I've had to use it.. * A lot of us got stock options (I'm uncertain if they're still doing that). * For the area the pay is great. I'm very happy. * You could probably make a little more relatively speaking if you wanted to live in CA or NoVa. But once adjusted for cost of living it wouldn't be a deciding factor in another job for me. * You get to go to one conference a year! I've been to WWDC twice- both times were amazing experiences. * Before working at WillowTree I'd never been on a plane or visited many places out of state. Now I've been all over the place. I really like traveling for clients (If you don't like to travel they will make sure you aren't on projects that need it.) * I've been to a lot of Hackathons which is so much fun. WillowTree is good about sending you out to do events if you're into that sort of thing. I think this is a great way to let people know about who we are and see our talented people.

    Cons

    Before going into Cons I want to say that WillowTree is *very very* good about listening to any issue you may have. They care if you're having problems, and if you have a solution or want to talk about it, they will listen. I've had various issues throughout the years and more often then not things get solved and improved. WillowTree is always trying to find new and better ways to do things- which is awesome. Projects: * Sometimes we accept or make deals with some fairly "of course this isn't going to work" conditions, then are surprised when things go south. Setting unrealistic deadlines against undeveloped / non-existent client APIs and unknown requirements is a recipe for unmaintainable code, pain on both us and the client, and burnout. We've been getting much better at this but now and then I hear about a new project and it's deadline / requirements and think really? * From time to time you'll end up with a somewhat "boring" / easy project- but sometimes these are nice between the more stressful ones. Depends on what you like. * We could be better about helping clients tone down their app to core functionality. Sometimes we end up doing apps with a lot of "ok" features instead of an app with a few really solid "core" features. Development: * A lot of the time I find myself having to write "get it done code". I'd like to be able to write more tests and take more time with my software, but sometimes due to deadlines we can't do this. I want to give the client what I think is my best work, and I'd like to think the client would be willing to pay for the time it takes to get quality software they can rely on. Growth: * Some of our meetings and things we did from the old days of the company aren't really scaling that well. We're not a big company yet but we certainly aren't a small one. * R&D / Beer:30 / Monday morning meeting all need to be thought out a bit more as we grow. I know we're working on this so that's a good thing! * The open office is pretty terrible most of the time. It's an awesome environment to learn and help others and know what's going on, but sometimes you need to do work too. The office space downstairs will fix a lot of problems with conference rooms and personal spots, but I'd rather the "default" be a quiet environment and you could go to a more communal spot if you wanted to. Web apps / BizDev / DevOps all have a pretty good setup. This being said I'd rather take the open office on the downtown mall than a more quiet office away from the mall. Sometimes we'll go work at the coffee shops on the mall when it gets so loud that you can't even think. Sometimes when I have a doctors appointment or am sick and I work from home, I'm amazed that I can do what feels like 2 days of work in a single day. * Our network and internet access is bad. Frequent drops throughout the day and slowdowns. Another problem we're working to fix, but we've been working to fix it for about 2 years. Transparency: * For the most part WillowTree is very transparent. A lot more than companies I've read about / had friends tell me about. But every now and then there's a decisions made that's sort of surprising.

    Advice to Management

    * New hiring process is great, old one was great too! Keep hiring more good people! * I'd like to do more stuff to make WillowTree "known" for having great talented people. More speaking engagements / hackathons / etc. * Maybe a work from home one day a week / sprint setup could be nice? I can get *so* much done without distractions, and this could be very helpful for those end of sprint "lets get things done" scenarios. This would be good for the client (more work gets done) and us (more deadlines get met!) * Keep trying hard to maintain the small company culture. * I love the PMs- more PMs! * I really like the focus on self improvement. The social things we do, encouragement to do side projects, conferences, and hackathons are all great ways to do this. I wonder if we could do something with taking classes at UVA after work?

    WillowTree Response

    Feb 4, 2015 – VP of HR & Recruiting

    Wow! First of all I want to say Thank You for taking the time to write out such a thorough review. You have made some very good suggestions for improvement. I know we are trying very hard to maintain ... More


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  5. Fast-paced, energetic, and creative company

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Charlottesville, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Charlottesville, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at WillowTree full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    WillowTree has a great variety of work with lots of opportunities to learn and grow. The company maintains steady upward growth with increasingly more impressive clients. Leadership always keeps things "fresh" and encourages a positive work atmosphere without sounding fake.

    Cons

    Desks are literally made of scraps of wood on ikea legs...I guess that adds to the lean-and-hungry start-up feel?

    Advice to Management

    Keep it real!


  6. Helpful (2)

    A Wonderfull Place to Be

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Charlottesville, VA
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Charlottesville, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The only limit to working here is your own ambition. Willowtree does an excellent job of encouraging its developers to grow and embrace new technologies. This coupled with working with high profile projects makes for an awesome work environment. Another major feather in Willowtree's hat is their ability and willingness to change for the better. The company went through non trivial growing pains and came out the other side a more transparent, solid company. They valued their employees and took what they said to heart. The result? A company I feel will listen and take care of its employees.

    Cons

    None that they won't strive to fix.

    Advice to Management

    Keep encouraging the feedback loop from employees!


  7. Helpful (2)

    Big company capabilities with a small company atmosphere....

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Management in Charlottesville, VA
    Current Employee - Management in Charlottesville, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at WillowTree full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Working on different and challenging opportunities every day; team is smart, awesome and fun -- some of my best friends are here; almost no politics and little middle management; good work gets recognized; I learn something every week; only occasional travel; we get to go to one industry conference a year that WillowTree pays for -- love that

    Cons

    tight quarters because of growth but sounds like that is going to be fixed soon; sometimes too many projects at once, but we make it happen!

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing the lunch and learns; need more PMs; can we get more updates on how major projects are going that we don't work at?


  8. Helpful (2)

    A high functioning company that respects its employees.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Lead Software Engineer in Charlottesville, VA
    Current Employee - Lead Software Engineer in Charlottesville, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at WillowTree full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    * Developers are given a tremendous amount of autonomy in deciding how they build what they build. The interview is process is tough because once you're hired, you're trusted with real work that matters. * The projects the company works on are varied and interesting. Hardware integration, games, emerging platforms - we touch it all. * The company is constantly improving on providing a good work-life balance for its employees. WillowTree's huge growth has made this tricky at times, but the trend is positive and encouraging. * Amazing people. Big egos aren't part of the culture, and to a person, everyone has a good team-centered work ethic. * Benefits are good and getting better. Fair - and if you've been here long enough - generous leave plan, 401k, and compensation that's more or less unmatched in Charlottesville.

    Cons

    * Space. The company is expanding, and we're in a part of Charlottesville where rent is high. Making sure everyone has enough of the type of space they want is a constant issue. * WillowTree has started employing project managers after a long period of having devs do all PM duties, but we don't have enough, and need more ASAP. (To be fair, recruiting is working hard on this front.) * The goal is to have developers working on one project at a time, but as with all client services companies, that can't always be a reality. Context switching can be a problem.

    Advice to Management

    * Keep working on making work/life balance as healthy and sustainable as it can possibly be. * Moving to having PMs was the right decision. Hire more!

    WillowTree Response

    Jan 29, 2015 – VP of HR & Recruiting

    Awesome feedback. New spaces on the way should alleviate that problem. PM hires are top priority!


  9. Helpful (1)

    WillowTree: bright people, interesting projects, and a great atmosphere.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Charlottesville, VA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Charlottesville, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at WillowTree full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Lots of perks: Company Macbook, Weekly Lunches, Happy Hour on Fridays. Tons of snacks and coffee in the kitchens. There's company matching on the 401k, Health Insurance, Dental Insurance. The only hours you're required to be in the office are from 10-4. Charlottesville in general is a great place to live and work, the fact that WillowTree is on the downtown mall is just awesome. I'm a five minute walk about from probably over 30 places to eat lunch, and twice the number of shops and stores. Tons of book stores stores too if you're into that sort of thing. The people who work here are really talented and know what they are doing. There's always different projects to work on every few weeks, most of them from big name companies.

    Cons

    The official amount of hours available for PTO is a little lacking; however, they're pretty lenient on working from home if you're sick, kids are snowed in, etc. Definitely getting a tad crowded as we expand.


  10. Love this place

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at WillowTree full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    WillowTree has always felt more like a family to me than a group of people I work with. The company goes above and beyond to make sure you are both happy and feeling challenged in your current position, and the diversity of work and projects I have gotten experience with is awesome. Fast-paced and exciting, it feels like a west-coast company, but nestled away in Charlottesville.

    Cons

    One slight con would be that the path for advancement isn't always 100% clear, but I also know it's something that's currently being improved, and I can already see the changes happening.


  11. Creative culture. Fast pace. Bright future.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at WillowTree full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The culture at WillowTree is driven by really smart, creative people. Nothing is impossible at this company. Emphasis is placed upon learning, innovating and doing everything really, really well - craftsmanship.

    Cons

    Open floor plan can sometimes be distracting.



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