Customer Comes First
We serve small business owners, managers, and their staff by bringing all of their communications into one place.
Imagine your favorite Italian restaurant. Their communication is scattered through group text message chains, emails, and other single utility apps, making it frustrating for their employees to contact people and find information when they need it. Similar to Slack, we’ve become the nervous system of each business, but with one main difference: we’re focused on the deskless workforce and SMB-centric tools through mobile. Using Coast, the employees at your favorite Italian restaurant can now easily share checklists, swap shifts, and run payroll, all in one place.
We know small businesses well; we spent years immersing ourselves in their work when building hyper-local networks for small businesses at our previous company, Townsquared. Essentially, we built Coast to serve members of the Townsquared community because we listened to what our customers were asking for.
Our users depend on us for their daily operations, so we always put their needs first. Customer feedback enters into our product roadmap in three main ways:
- Direct support chats (ongoing). Individual users can seamlessly report bugs, give feedback, request features, and ask us questions. Everything they report is funneled to the appropriate avenue, and helps us determine what new features or updates to prioritize.
- Live interviews and conversations (quarterly for engineers). We maintain close relationships with our customers, many of whom have helped shape our product from the beginning. Through in person, video, or phone calls, we listen to their pain points, concerns, and aspirations directly from them and in their own words. We develop extreme empathy for our users and are always building things that will have the greatest impact on their daily lives.
- User testing (continuously running tests). We use UserTesting to source real people based on criteria we specify to answer questions as they interact with our prototypes. We quickly spin up tests, run A/B tests to get early impressions, flag usability issues, and do market research through this tool. This helps us run through several product iterations before it gets into the development process.
We aspire to the lean methodology of continuous feedback.
Every member of our team has a unique perspective and can contribute in valuable ways to both our product and our processes. We have formal weekly retrospectives as well as at the end of big projects. We don’t take these for granted since they are the best times to reflect on what we did well and where we can make improvements. The feedback we give one another is always specific, direct, and honest, and most importantly, it always comes from the desire to make the product better for our customers. We also do weekly demos to solicit in-the-moment feedback for work that is in progress and design reviews to critique upcoming feature work.
Informally, we give shoutouts to each other whenever someone is doing a great job or embodying one of our company’s core values. This includes transparency, supporting teammates and our users, or finding innovative, simple ways to make our user experience more delightful or approachable.
We operate with transparency around the business, our product, and how decisions are made.
We understand and are respectful of the fact that people need time and space to focus on their work. At the same time, we also believe better decisions are made when more members of the team are well informed. By being transparent about as much as possible, we make information accessible whenever someone needs it. Everyone knows how much runway we have, how investors meetings went, about strategic partnerships, and is included in all hiring decisions.
There is an underlying trust that allows us to speak frankly with one another and enabled us to build an environment where anyone can voice their questions, criticisms, and/or concerns. The fact that we respect each other so much also makes open communication feel effortless here. Whether you agree or dissent, all opinions are valuable and will be heard.
In terms of day-to-day communication, we are physically face-to-face most of each day. Our office has a table where we sit facing each other, and we are seated next to the people we need to interact with most. While this facilitates a lot of collaboration, we are also respectful and will always ping someone on Coast before interrupting them in-person (or by video chat when someone is working remotely!).
We’re currently in a coworking space called PARISOMA, which you can check out here.
We have light meetings by design.
Meetings are special and valuable times to discuss things as a group that would otherwise be impossible to do through 1-1s or asynchronous communication channels. More informally, we communicate with one another using our own product, Coast (dogfooding) so that we can respond to and digest information at our own pace. We’ll have ad hoc in person/video meetings if it helps us to get unblocked.
You can expect to attend ~2 hours of meetings each week. Our only regular meetings include:
- Daily 10-minute stand-up
- Weekly 30-minute kick off meeting on Mondays: to review priorities for the week, review data about product
- Weekly 1-hour on Friday: for reviewing the week’s work, demos, and/or a retrospective on the week
In-person meetings can be distracting so we ensure that everyone in a meeting is prepared in advance. Whoever is holding the meeting is responsible beforehand to prep people and create a realistic agenda for decisions to be made.
EQ > IQ
Your ability to work well with others is more important than your technical skills.
Having technical experience and knowledge is important to us, but only if it is coupled with EQ. Not only are we diverse in our abilities, backgrounds, and personalities, but so are our customers. As an early stage company, it is critical to us that we only hire people who recognize the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence.
In the past, we have passed on technically gifted candidates because they did not share our mindset around how to work as a team. As a small but nimble team, we operate with the assumption that everyone is working toward the same goal: creating the best experiences for our users. To that end, we look for people who are empathetic and curious, who have opinions but don’t assume they are always right, operate with an innate sense of urgency, are willing to take smart risks, and take ownership of their work. During the interview process, we gauge this through the different formal (1-1 discussions) and informal (grabbing food with the team) interactions we have with each candidate. We hope candidates do the same evaluation of us. Ultimately, even the most brilliant minds cannot build good products if they can’t work well together. This is twofold for us as we serve a wide variety of customers ranging from restaurants, to retail, to medical offices.
Creative + Innovative
We focus on our customers and their problems, not the solutions themselves.
We are building a team of people who have diverse backgrounds and have experience solving a wide variety of problems. Ultimately, their creativity around problem solving is derived from a passion for understanding the customer’s problem, not so much by the actual solution they can apply. Coupling diverse experiences with a strong understanding of the problem, we often come up with creative and innovative solutions to test. We look for people who have both a tendency to think creatively and a strong passion toward our mission and our customers’ problems.
We absolutely encourage all of our team members to have creative outlets within and outside of Coast. People have side projects that they foster and in some cases these directly aid Coast’s mission. To test high-impact ideas, we often hold internal hackathons. These projects are almost immediately followed by direct demos with customers to evaluate their efficacy.
Impressive Team Members
We are a small team, but a very experienced one.
We have been lucky to surround ourselves with great individuals. Everyone on our team is exceptionally talented in their respective fields, and this statement extends to our advisors. From an operating perspective, each person has been at small startups and seen success (acquisitions) to building bigger companies.
- Rohit Prakash - Co-founder and CEO and former co-founder and CEO @ Townsquared, previously MD/PhD @ Stanford
- Miwa Ikemiya - Co-founder and Chief Design Officer and former Chief Design Officer @ Townsquared, Researcher @ Microsoft Research
- Russell Taga - Head of engineering and former engineering director @ Fitbit, COO @ Coin (acquired by Fitbit), VP of engineering @ HotelTonight (acquired by Airbnb)
- David Fant - Software engineer and co-founder of multiple startups including Just Football (acquired), Apple WWDC Scholar
- Mike Sippey - Former VP Product at Twitter
- Scott Cook - Founder of Intuit
We bring our best selves to work.
We have a high degree of trust in one another and each person’s ability to get work done. To that end, as long as you get your work done, or communicate why you are blocked and ask for help, we don’t care how or where you do your work. We work intensely and effectively during normal working weekday hours, and then leave work to recharge on our own time. Having a balanced life outside of work only benefits the company because we believe this contributes to happy, healthy, productive people and therefore, more productive teams.
People are not expected to work weekends unless there is an emergency, and everyone can choose where they work from. That said, we try to keep as many hours overlapping with the team as possible in order to facilitate collaboration, and prefer to meet in person if we can.
Outside of work, people love being in the great outdoors, traveling to places near and far, eating delicious food, and playing sports. From snowboarding, to badminton, cycling, and hiking, our team loves staying active outdoors. Not only do we love food, but some of us also know how to cook it! Whatever helps you recharge, we want you to do it. There’s really no other way to drive creativity, collaboration, and productivity in your work.