Customer Comes First
We build software and financial tools that serve small businesses and help them find long-term success.
Owning a small business is one of the most common ways in which people in the United States realize socioeconomic mobility. By starting and growing a business, business owners can build better lives for themselves, their families, and the people in their communities. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for people with little to no credit history to get the capital they need. At Hatch, we level the playing field by offering lines of credit to small business owners who may not be able to get credit from more traditional sources, and it is our mission to serve them throughout their journey.
Our customers are small business owners and our goal is to build software and financial tools that support them. Everyone on our team has visibility into what our customers are saying about our product at all times. We regularly hold team syncs so that our product and support teams have a direct line of communication and continually gather and record feedback from our small business cardholders, which we then prioritize into our product roadmap. Finally, we regularly share customer stories in our internal comms channels – we’re always thinking about our customers!
Data informs every part of our business and for good reason. When you’re dealing with peoples’ livelihoods, building systems using accurate data isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity.
One of our biggest challenges in building a financial services company for small businesses is understanding credit and risk from our cardholders, and from the general economy as a whole. At the heart of this challenge is real-time aggregation, analysis, and automation of data from a variety of sources – our own cardholder ecosystem, the fundamentals of our cardholders’ businesses, and macroeconomic trends, to name a few. This translates into internal engineering (i.e. instrumentation, API integration, and batch/real-time processing systems), and data science (i.e. analytics, expert systems, machine learning) products that allow us to do our jobs faster, better, and more accurately.
At Hatch, we regularly cross most of the typical departmental boundaries.
Engineers at Hatch will work with Marketing, Sales, BD, Legal, Finance, Credit, Operations, and Customer Service. In 2013, WhatsApp moved billions of messages a day between 200 million daily active users with a team of just 50 people. Our goal is to build and scale Hatch with the same power-to-weight ratio. A small but mighty team has the ability to keep communication overhead low and better adapt to changing customer needs, but it requires a lot of collaboration. Everyone at Hatch works together, blurring most of the typical departmental boundaries. As for software engineers, we strongly believe the purpose of writing software is to provide a product in service of someone else, whether it’s our small business owners or fellow team members.
We have to balance speed to market with thoughtfulness, because as a financial service company, the stakes are high.
We practice this thoughtful agility at Hatch on a daily basis. We move extremely quickly to ship every day, but make sure to respect our QA, code review, and blue/green deployment process to ensure our products maintain a very high standard of resiliency. We also run a weekly sprint process to map out features and bug fixes that we’re going to work on, which helps us stay aligned internally. We feel especially motivated to help our customers through what is undoubtedly a difficult time for all early businesses, and we feel that urgency every day. Our shared commitment to make sure our small business owners are able to access credit to run their business during this global pandemic has instilled a sense of purpose in everything we do, and we are working as quickly as we can!
Impressive Team Members
Accomplishments aside, we’re proud to work alongside such empathetic team members.
While everyone on our team possesses conventionally impressive traits (i.e. academic, professional, and personal accomplishments), the most impressive attribute we’ve seen shared by everyone at Hatch is their empathy toward each other, and toward the small business owners we work with. The most important qualities we look for at Hatch are whether you possess (1) an insatiable intellectual curiosity and (2) a proclivity to ship products as fast as feasibly possible in service of our customers. If that sounds like you, please get in touch!
Hatch is the product of our CEO, Thomson’s, expertise and unique insights into the industry. He is a data scientist-turned-founder who has already successfully started and sold a company (Framed Data) to Square. During his time at Kleiner Perkins as an EIR, Thomson learned that small businesses owners in the U.S. who were just starting out were still underserved, and started Hatch to understand how to become the lender of first resort.
As a smaller ~15-person team, we place an extremely large amount of trust in one another and empower everyone to be relatively autonomous in their work.
That means a majority of features and bug fixes have a single person as the primary point of contact, from ideation and architecture to implementation and documentation. Documenting and educating one another about our work is the primary way in which we reduce our SPOF surfaces across our codebase. For example, in our earliest days of developing the Hatch Card, our lead designer, Michelle, went above and beyond her role as a designer and took it on themselves to manage the product development process from concept to launch.
Similarly, our engineers take on multiple roles (i.e. infrastructure, data, and front-end) as truly full-stack engineers when the need arises, then specialize as the team grows. At Hatch, we believe tough challenges are never “someone else’s problem” and empower our team members to take ownership whenever they can.
Trust and communication are paramount for small startups.
At Hatch, we’ve made sure to keep everyone in the loop without overwhelming them with meetings. For example, everyone at Hatch is encouraged to write up relevant meeting notes to a common [email protected] email group, which anyone can peruse asynchronously. We also foster a culture of transparency where coworkers feel empowered to bring up questions about company or product strategy, which happens in weekly sprint planning sessions, twice a week at company-wide syncs, and in our Slack channels.
As a startup, we value thoughtful participation in tough conversations and welcome hard questions, whether it’s about misalignments on the roadmap, or ambiguity with company goals.
The events of COVID-19 have prompted all of us at Hatch to rely on the common trust we’ve built in each other – to be open and honest through video chat, Slack, and email. (Part of good communication requires a good at-home work environment: we expanded our benefits program so all employees could purchase important ergonomic equipment.) We are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and in an effort to support, inform, and stay connected to each other, we’ve created dedicated (but separate) Slack channels for updates and discussions around COVID. In addition, all managers are asked to check in on their reports about their overall well being, and not focus solely on “talking shop” during these difficult times.
We firmly believe that with our mission and products, we are in a unique position to truly impact the lives of those who have been affected by COVID-19, and our priority is to make sure that all Hatch team members can focus on that mission without worry.
To stay productive and be efficient, we are deliberate about our meeting culture.
For engineers, we have one weekly product roadmap and company sync on Monday, one retro on Friday, and daily standups in the morning. And that’s pretty much it! We use Slack and email as preferred methods of asynchronous communication and reserve interruptions for show-stopping or urgent situations. Ad-hoc meetings between individuals and groups may occur, depending on the product you’re working on, but our culture has always been rooted in empowering people at the company to do deep work whenever they can. By being thoughtful about what we want to build and carefully planning how we want to build, we’ve been able to limit the number of meetings we have and protect people’s working blocks. We plan to keep communication overhead to a minimum as we expand the company, too.
If any of this sounds interesting to you, please reach out – we’d love to hear from you!