Better software, together.
Justin Etheredge and Al Tenhundfeld founded Simple Thread in 2010, then known as Ecstatic Labs. The firm has grown steadily since then, serving innovative clients throughout Central Virginia from our bases in Richmond and Charlottesville. In 2017, the company rebranded as Simple Thread around the core ideas of simplicity and partnership, symbolized by many strands twisting together to become better together.
What makes Simple Thread different is what we value.
The Agile Manifesto, a set of principles that advocates for a collaborative and iterative effort in developing software, offers us a clear path for building products. Adopting Agile practices years ago has fundamentally changed the way we work. Agile development has complemented the experiences that have shaped our unique development process. Over time, we have come to value…
- Simplicity over flexibility.
- Discovery over design.
- Pragmatism over elegance.
- Reliability over cutting edge.
- Productivity over sophistication.
- Joy over professionalism.
- Delivering value over writing software.
While we value the items on the right, we value the items on the left even more.
Here's what we know about great software.
We build great products through collaboration with you. We are guided in our work by four key beliefs about what makes great software.
Great software begins and ends with people.
It requires an understanding of the people who will use it and be affected by it. It means knowing which elements are intuitive, and those that will be confusing or intimidating. An expertly crafted tool not only solves a problem, but is also deeply satisfying to use.
Great software is discovered, not designed.
Every problem has many ways to be fixed. But if you listen carefully, the problem tells you exactly how it wants to be solved.
Great software isn’t perfect.
Perfect is the enemy of good. Making everything perfect is a waste of time, instead we deliver rapidly while listening and learning, then deliver again, and again, and again – simplifying along the way.
Great software comes from great partnerships.
We believe great partnerships are like a thread. Many strands twist together as one, to become better together. Communication and collaboration is at the core of everything we do.
Never stop learning.
We commit to making time to study, train, and purposefully experiment to find new ways to solve unique business problems. We embrace both our successes and mistakes, and learn from both. Experience comes from trial and error, and each are as important to our process as they are to our experience.
Justin Etheredge - Partner/Engineer/UX Designer
“Sure, it’s coffee in this mug.”
Justin was born and raised right here in Richmond. He has lived here all his life, met his wife here, is raising his son here – and quite frankly, will probably push up daisies here. Justin’s love of computers started early with the same thing that gets every young boy excited about computers: video games. Fortunately, the obsession has matured – where once he dreamed of beating the final boss in “Contra,” he now dwells on how customers will use Simple Thread’s products. Justin hasn’t lost all of his boyish charms, though. In his spare time, he reads copious amounts of science fiction and watches too much Netflix. But he also likes to cook, partake in some craft beers, and play soccer with his son. In true grown-up form, Justin dreams of one day buying a house out in the country … so that his wife will stop bugging him about it.
- Favorite Book: “Foundation”
- Favorite Activity: Spending time with family and friends
Al Tenhundfeld - Partner/Engineer
“Ninja skills! Ninja skills!”
Forgive Al if he’s staring into the distance, remembering technology’s glorious past. He might see visions of “Space Invaders,” recalling the inspiration he found in his brother’s Atari 2600 – so much joy in such a little box! Or perhaps he’s reflecting on his embrace of the Internet just before the Web took off – oh, the welcoming ethos of early BBS and Usenet! But firmly in the present, Al has a passion for improving lives through software – whether a simple tool to automate a tedious back-office process or a product that helps a client launch a business. Al grew up on the Gulf Coast near Mobile, Ala., and made his way to U.Va. He settled in Charlottesville, and when away from the computer, he loves cooking for family, hiking in the Appalachians … and secretly enjoying British detective shows that his wife forces him to watch. He also buys more books than one man could ever read (see below).
- Favorite Book: Dune… no wait… Jitterbug Perfume… uh… The Jamais Vu Papers? Too many …
- Favorite Activity: Making his daughter laugh
Kevin Bahr - Software Product Engineer
“This is my smile – and my golf face.”
Kevin believes in giving back – which explains why he has donated a gazillion golf balls to various ponds. Fortunately, though a novice on the golf course, he’s a pro when it comes to full-stack web development. In addition to more than five years of experience, Kevin earned a master’s degree in data mining from Central Connecticut State University. He also holds certifications from Amazon Web Services, the Project Management Institute, and CompTIA. Kevin enjoys the challenge of creating and implementing all the different technical parts of an idea to bring it to life: It’s no surprise that he continues to refine his collection of smart-home-connected gadgets (20-plus, thank you). Kevin loves binge-watching TV series, though he often struggles to dig himself out of post-series show holes. To help ease the pain, he leans on his wife, daughter, dachshund and, of course, one of the primary food groups: cupcakes.
- Favorite Book: Wool
- Favorite Activity: Spending time with family
Alex Baldwin - Software Product Engineer
“You like the beard, right?”
Alex has spent most of his life here in the Richmond area – and loving computers (he has been coding since age 13). With experience in databasing, middleware and user interfaces, he is a real tech enthusiast who loves to build the engines that drive beautiful, robust web applications. Alex relishes the challenge of solving problems, though he has yet to figure out how to outdo his wife and their three kids when playing water war outside during the summer. You can find him at the Kings Dominion theme park on summertime Saturdays… and, when he can fit it in, at the gym (a guy’s gotta work off all those funnel cakes, after all).
- Favorite Book: 1984
- Favorite Activity: Riding rollercoasters
Stephen Kiningham - Software Product Engineer
“The lightsaber attracts birds.”
When Stephen isn’t busy coding, his favorite pastime is bird watching – no word, though, on whether the birds like watching him, too. He routinely travels to find and photograph birds, and we wonder if this passion for tracking things might have something to do with his experience in RFID solutions. Closer to home, Stephen enjoys exploring the parks of Charlottesville with his wife, Holly. He’s also a soccer fan, and his house actually resembles a sports bar – there is always at least one game on in the background. So if Barca goes to the birds, you can bet Stephen is already there.
- Favorite Book: Harry Potter
- Favorite Activity: Bird watching
David Leyden - Software Product Engineer
“T-shirts ARE business casual!”
David grew up in rural Iowa and spent half his life in east Tennessee before moving to the “Big City” (Richmond, that is – and it’s an accurate description next to Johnson City). David worked at East Tennessee State University as a software engineer for eight years and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there. Though he has spent most of his professional life working with .Net, he does enjoy branching out into the open-source world. David also loves games of all kinds – be they sports, video, or board games. His interest in the latter was particularly rekindled when he first played “The Settlers of Catan” and learned about the realm of Eurogames. It wasn’t long before “Agricola” and “Puerto Rico” took over his dining room table. But he tries to leave enough room there for dinner: David likes to cook, exploring new dishes or better ways of cooking old dishes to the delight (usually) of his wife.
- Favorite Books: Moneyball and A Storm of Swords
- Favorite Activity: Canoeing
Paul Schmidt - Director of Client Relationships
“This is my Clark Kent disguise.”
Paul has owned and operated a successful comedy club, so if the glasses trick in his second photo above make you snicker, just say you’re laughing with him, not at him. Paul really loves the people part of his job – talking with them, helping them make their jobs easier – so nurturing client relationships really is his sweet spot. And it’s a natural extension of his 20-plus-year background in broadcast media, where he served as a radio on-air talent, digital content director, and digital sales manager. He also serves as VP of Programming for the Richmond chapter of the American Marketing Association. Paul is an avid sports fan and still cheers for his hometown Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, but he is now head over heels in love with Richmond – the Flying Squirrels, VCU basketball and UR football are his teams, too. But his real passion and greatest accomplishment? His son, Robbie.
- Favorite Book: The Norton Anthology of English Literature
- Favorite Activity: Doing anything with Robbie
Chris May - UX Designer and Software Product Engineer
“Admit it: I can totally pull this hat off!”
Chris is a snappy dresser and cleans up well … so he clearly comes from a different background that most of us in IT. In fact, Chris was a graphic designer in an earlier incarnation – and he brings that great aesthetic to his work as a developer. He’s been proving his point ever since writing software that transformed two weeks of a co-worker’s repetitive slogging into a simple, elegant file-drop onto an icon. (Oh, almost forgot – this saved the company thousands of dollars every year.) Chris continues to use this left-brain-meet-right-brain sensibility to great effect, merging the principles of graphic design with software development and data analysis. In his free time, he trades UX for VA – as in, exploring Virginia by car, bike or even paddleboard alongside the love of his life.
Don Denoncourt - Software Product Engineer
“Hacking the commute by listening to a tech podcast.”
Don’s been coding since before Windows and Linux, much less the Internet. In the early nineties, Don moved from RPG and Cobol to C and C++. He adopted Java before it was real: 1996. After coding his way through the proliferation of Java frameworks (including Struts, Spring, and EJB) Don pined for the Convention-over-Configuration framework of Ruby and Rails. Don did Groovy and Grails before finally moving to Rails in 2011. Don enjoys writing and has published a couple of books and hundreds of technical articles. Don has been working from home since last century. When Don is not working, he loves spending time with his 3 grandchildren. To keep his mind young, Don reads and listens to novels in Italian. And, to keep his body young, Don is an avid off-road and street unicyclist.
- Favorite Book: The Hobbit
- Favorite Activity: Unicycling
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