Tulip Retail

Tulip Retail Employee Reviews

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A fast-growing enterprise startup, with the nicenesses and pains therein
Software Developer (Current Employee) –  Toronto, ON5 October 2019
Tulip has been in an interesting space, both in its business lifecycle and in its business area. It is tackling a space that isn't the most technically savvy and that creates both business development and implementation issues, although that first mover factor means that when it works, it works. It also means that the industry-specific struggles are novel and impacted by the nature of the relationship to the customer.

Developer opinion / what I've learned
From a _developer_ point of view, I have enjoyed my time here. It is not the typical startup bro company, developers tend to be more practically minded than ideologically minded or obsessed with some kind of technical excellent that only matters to other developers. At the end of the day, what matters is the end result. This comes in part of the enterprise space it finds itself in (good luck getting large retailers to accept your agile iterative approach against their Change Advisory Boards which lock down any change for months) but also because of the history of the founding members.
This does mean that the code is often more enterprise in nature (including technical debt warts) while having other startup-like just-get-it-done aspects. As it has scaled out it has recognized the need to move to something more durable over time, but like all companies, that takes time and is never as fast as anyone would like.

I've actually learned more at this company than any other I've been in, and about stuff I never expected mattered as a developer. Because we're a startup attacking enterprise problems, questions of
  more... architecture, scope, approaches to adversary, etc.. are something we have to deal with more intensively than most app makers, and I've felt very blessed to have my mentors and companions be good examples of how to work maturely on large software, and how to play our part in a business overall (we're enterprise so we can't pretend tech is the only thing that matters, we're small enough that we can't abstract away other teams as faceless org units.)

I can only speak for devs but I very much respect that our team has an open salary model where there is a clear matrix of compensation for one's current place in the dev and org ladder. We don't have the most competitive rates but they are fair for our employer market and track inflation. Based on the salary expectations for my field and seniority across my town, I am happy. I love that I don't need to hustle or fight or oversell myself to keep it going up. This being said, if you believe that your job is a competition, you will not like it. Also, I think other teams have different experiences.

The downside is that job title changes aren't a thing we hand out here regularly. They don't matter much except for responsibility and a base salary increase (we're too flat for rank to mean anything beyond the executive and higher leadership) but it does often feel like you're not going anywhere if you measure that by title switches or bonus pay incentives.

Tulip went from a very small team two-three years ago to a ~150-200 person company, two or three times its starting employee count. Like in most startups, this had hazards, and they weren't always dealt with gracefully. Much of the year or two following had a lot of confusion as certain business areas tried a bunch of different tactics without finding one that stuck until relatively recently. Higher level positions who came in with an agenda that didn't match the ultimate direction for future positions hasn't helped. It hasn't been great, and there have been cultural ramifications, but honestly I've seen much worse at companies far slower and ultimately far less successful. A large number of management+ has since found their place and found ways to improve culture and business practices. Sadly this isn't evenly distributed across all teams.

I'm not a manager or senior level employee so I can't speak to management machinations. Having a tech-minded CEO has good points (aligned with technical strategies) and bad points (sales and non-technical teams probably aren't valued as much as technical teams). As a smallish enterprise company, advancement opportunities don't come up often since we don't have a large bureaucracy that affords it. Strategic shifts are felt more than most enterprise companies because the org alignment is again not large enough to buffer the effects without lots of visibility.

This being said, when teams gel, they gel well, and there is a lot of camaraderie and trust. People who step in, from all levels, tend to be rewarded if they show initiative, although they'll likely have to also make sure it happens since everyone's too busy with their own stuff even if they have the best of intentions. This does mean they'll have to defend their initiatives if they aren't obviously in alignment with higher levels, and I'm not senior enough to assess that process, other than to say I've seen it happen and I've seen it not.

This year I think is when a critical mass of good things aligned, and I think we've been making really good decisions from a business and organizational point of view while we look ahead and deal with the last contextual challenges of our 2017/2018 growth spurt. I think we continue to face some of these challenges but I also think we're more equipped to handle them and succeed than ever before, and I think we're more aligned across the company than ever at this moment.

Work-life balance:
Being a startup and dealing with retail customers has been a challenge, because the power dynamic hasn't been in our favour and that's oriented our company in unfortunate ways that we don't always have great solutions for. Our work-flow is still more dictated by customer demands than I like, and while a lot of work is going to change this over the next year and a bit, teams that interface with customers will often find themselves being more reactive than they should be. Expect to see crunches as customer projects get scoped out or are finalizing, and expect certain seasons (just before American Thanksgiving) to be intense as customers lock down their changes for the rest of the year.

Core development and teams without customer access have a much more relaxed time and the work-life balance is very good. It's kind of sucky to see that division, but good on the teams that do have it. I can't speak for non-technical teams, but I imagine it again depends on how much customer interaction you have.

Work-place culture:
The offices are open, while there are white noise generators expect time to get loud. People aren't afraid to have fun or joke around in the office, although the office with execs and sales will reflect that we often have business partners coming in. Dress and desks are pretty casual.

There are a lot of cross-team events and communities if one is interested in that. If one is vocal about interests, it's easy to find and bond with people who share that interest. Things tend to be more organized by peer groups of interested people than top-down HR, which is nice in many ways but means that initiative is key and events tend to be more low-key than large organized events, which may appeal or not appeal to you.

Fridays have been work-from-home for a while, so expect a pretty empty office that day. Some teams are more remote-friendly than others although people are still based out of one office or another.

We use an open-source equivalent to Slack, and as you can imagine that means chat distractions can get overwhelming and people often carve out working blocks for distraction-free time. Certain teams are more meeting-heavy than others.

The lunch rooms are quite large and often filled, lunch and coffee breaks are often groups of people across teams who have developed social rapports, although these are porous amongst most groups so different combinations of social outings will likely be seen every day.

The most enjoyable part of the job is the people:
At an individual contributor level and lower-middle management level, the #1 thing about Tulip that is awesome is the people, because it isn't a typical young-white-male-thing engineering startup. This is one of the most diverse places from a country/ethnicity/age point of view, and the place is small enough that while there are obvious social groupings, you can easily interact with everyone around if you so chose. I think we're about as good (or bad) as the industry in terms of gender representation. Because the age range skews older, people tend to be generally chill, and interaction is more than just people going drinking. Differences are talked about as much as similarities, because the fact that everyone has arrived here via different journeys is an important cultural fact. Most of us don't hang out with each other after work, we have families or other lives, but we enjoy the time we do spend with each other.

The hardest part of the job:
1) Open offices suck
2) It does suck to see that certain teams are beholden to customer whims and that means they don't get the improvements core / non-customer teams work on until much latter in the process.
3) Management changes affect things disproportionately; it's too easy to see when org units are functioning well or being valued, and when they aren't.
4) We have to deal both with enterprise struggles and startup struggles.
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Toxic, political, high employee turnover, customers leaving as well
Former senior level employee (Former Employee) –  Toronto, ON5 September 2019
Very long hours - including weekends, high stress, very poor management.
Bad product full of issues and bugs and with no talent to resolve those issues.
Very political upper management.
Toxic environment.
Extremely high turnover.
Inexperienced people promoted to VP & Director levels because they can't find good talent anymore in the market.
Very high employee turnover.
Customers are running away in droves as well, so beware!
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Not what they seem
Sales (Former Employee) –  Toronto, ON10 July 2019
Be careful when interviewing to ask to spend time with employees to get a real picture of what working there is like. Lots of turnover and change, lack of clear direction.
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Apparently it looks like a cool place to work but...
HR Executive (Former Employee) –  Toronto, ON13 June 2019
A typical day at work will be very busy like any work place.

I have learned, never join a startup as the management themselves seems not be sure about their growth and development strategies. In front of our eyes, people were given performance awards 1 day and next day they were let go. It is sad to see the loss of trust in the management and obviously job security would be a question mark.

Workplace culture is pretty good.

Hardest part of the job is " lack of appreciation / recognition " management has no opportunity or has no initiative to identify their core assets of the company and they are loosing their talent every month who have spent time to learn their platform and had become beneficial for them.
Good companies value their people, invest in them. But here 1 new person in executive management joins and he/she would wanna bring who lot of her/his ex-colleagues to this company. This is not a mature approach and it is sad to see that it has been over looked and no one from top management is observing it. They are loosing people and firing people who have been with them from years.

" Bottom line they are unable to understand that it would be their bigger loss when they loose people" Every one will get another job but they will have to train new hires same thing again and will be able to reap the benefit of the candidate at later stage. If he or she wishes to stay that long with them. I wish them all the best and wish that someone see this bigger loss and realize it. For an individual, personal and career development in such environment would be challenging.

Most enjoyable part of the job was the view from their kitchen.
Free Lunches
Long hours, Lack of direction and appreciation, Job Security
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