Running a code audit

Cobbler Concierge

Cobbler Concierge had seen rapid growth in its first year and a half in business — and its original system was starting to show the strain. The shoe and handbag repair startup came to us for a code audit to identify any weaknesses or limitations in the software. The findings gave Cobbler a roadmap to stabilize the product and create opportunities to scale. In the seven months since we started, Cobbler has increased repairs by 66 percent and growing.

“Table XI was able to understand our business needs to help us improve the overall customer experience. Their team provided excellent support and critical analysis in every stage of development.”

Carolyn Blair, CEO of Cobbler Concierge

Using a code audit to prepare for scale

Cobbler began like most startups, with a great idea and a small team to make it happen. They were able to prove the concept, but it’s hard to scale a business with a skeleton crew.

Cobbler’s software had four main pieces: a backend Ruby on Rails enterprise platform for managing shoe and handbag repairs across a team of skilled craftspeople, two frontend Shopify websites where customers can place orders, and a shipping system. After a year and a half of growth, the system was getting unwieldy, and cracks were starting to show. Adding new features would often cause a chain reaction of errors.

The Cobbler team wasn’t technical, and they wanted some insight into how stable and scalable their system was. So they brought Table XI in for an audit. With a code audit, we spend anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks looking through the existing systems. Then we report back with an overall picture of how healthy the product is — a.k.a. where the software is most fragile and difficult to change, and how well it will support business ambitions. The deliverable is a prioritized list of system improvements and an explanation of what each will allow the business to accomplish.

Originally we were supposed to deliver findings to the Cobbler team to make the updates. Once we had our report though, it became apparent that one developer couldn’t handle all the fixes. Cobbler asked us to step in and start making the necessary improvements.

Scaling a startup

Customers can ship their shoes in, to be repaired on demand.

How to build a startup to scale

Tasks that are painful at a small number of customers become impossible at a large number of customers. That’s true of any business. The code audit gave us a huge head start in identifying and removing some of that pain for Cobbler. Improving and maturing their operational system, for instance, has made it easier to manage the actual cobbling process, so they can scale the business up without hitting a ceiling.

Some improvements enabled new business lines. Cobbler does on-demand shoe and handbag repair for individuals, but it also does it for a few luxury brands. We were able to change how those corporate partners were added to the system. Now it takes about a week, instead of an unknown amount of time that gets longer with each addition. That change enabled Cobbler to go after more partnerships, tripling that line of business.

On the customer side, we created a text-based ordering feature. Cobbler wanted customers to be able to snap a picture of their shoes and text it in to get an estimate and order started. It’s a lightweight way for users to request a repair from their phones, and it didn’t require building an entire app.

One of the best things about working with Cobbler is that every time we make a change, it's used by real people the next day. It allows us to iterate in a satisfyingly efficient way. We can launch a feature, get feedback and make updates as necessary. And it’s working for Cobbler too. Since we joined them for a code audit in May 2016, their business has grown by 66 percent.


“Table XI helped us to transform our business goals into actions. Working together, we were able to explore and shape our digital footprint to improve the overall customer experience.”

Carolyn Blair, CEO of Cobbler Concierge


Using tech to deliver business insights

Part of adding functionality was finding tech that could help the Cobbler team better understand the business side of the company. We added more reporting to their backend operational software, so they can get more metrics about what’s going on with the finances of their business.

Collecting more transparent data about the order process lets the Cobbler team better figure out how money is being spent. Things like identifying what they’re paying versus charging for shipping costs, for example. That’s information they didn’t know technology could give them before we suggested it.

Cobbler Concierge

The dashboard we built for Cobbler Concierge allows staff to efficiently track each order — crucial as the company grows.

Helping non-technical founders understand their code

As the technical partner to the Cobbler team, we try to put everything in terms of their needs and priorities. So instead of talking about the tool or code we’re going to use, we explain what impact it’s going to have on performance or security, so they can relay that to investors.

The Cobbler team is able to come to us with a feature they need or problem they need to solve, and we can give them a range of technology solutions. That way we can work together to find the one that works best for their business. A big part of our job is just helping them understand what options technology gives them.


“Table XI has offered us invaluable perspective across all channels of digital development. They took time to understand the way we hope to grow our business, and provided thoughtful and smart feedback throughout the process.”

Carolyn Blair, CEO of Cobbler Concierge


Giving a startup the flexibility it needs

Cobbler was still exploring different business opportunities when we came on, so we needed to be up for building whatever would support growth that day. That meant being flexible when priorities changed. We started out with a fairly detailed schedule of what code fixes we were going to tackle. That calendar didn’t last too long once opportunities started appearing that Cobbler had to jump on. They’re a rapidly evolving business, and we're able to react with them.

Some of that even extends to staffing. Because we have a team we can tap as needed, we’re able to scale up and scale down. That matches the changing nature of the business. When there’s a deadline we need to build toward, we can easily staff up, then wind down while they identify the next big goal.

“Throughout the process, the Table XI team has felt like an in-house operation that seeks to support and nurture our brand's development.”

Carolyn Blair, CEO of Cobbler Concierge

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