Building a profitable business and doing right by your customers are not mutually exclusive. Our CEO, Tim, started the company with the belief that if he helped users make better financial decisions, revenue would follow. Our content team is the embodiment of that belief. While our editors and writers often know who our partners are, they do not know the terms of those relationships. Their objective is to help the user make the best possible decision, understanding that every user has a unique set of circumstances. Sometimes, the best decision is to work with a non-partner or to do nothing at all. By guiding users to the best possible decision, we build trust and a long-term relationship with the consumer. This provides the foundation for our $100M+ profitable business and drives the understanding that the best personal finance solutions are inherently customer-first.
As an engineering team, we care deeply about how our customers and end users use our product. We focus on providing the right balance between ease of use and power-user oriented features. What this means is that engineers aren't building something just because their manager says so, but instead, everyone understands the use cases and how what they're working on brings value to the end users. By using the product and understanding our customer’s goals and behavior, we come to know the technology within this scope better than almost anyone else in the industry, and can therefore provide the best suggestions and strategies for how to solve problems.
“The customer comes first” is our #1 guiding principle. Everyone at Alto is genuinely passionate about our mission to create the most patient-centric pharmacy in the world. There are 125,000 deaths every year due to patients who do not take their medications properly -- those are 125,000 avoidable deaths. The current system is broken and getting your prescription meds are difficult and confusing: prior authorizations, renewals, high copays for drugs not covered by your insurance, travel to the brick-and-mortar pharmacy, and long lines or closed pharmacies. Alto removes the pain points to create a process that is now simple, friendly, and fully transparent. Given the statistics and adherence rates, Alto has saved an estimated 45 lives and we’re determined to save thousands more. If any of this resonates with you, please let us know. We'd love to hear from you!
We never lose sight of who our users are and what our creative community wants. We continuously collect qualitative feedback and quantitative data and incorporate our findings into our product roadmap.
On the development side, our Data Engineering team is consistently informing product and business decisions with consumer data. They regularly look at how many users we have per day, renewal data, membership data, and many other metrics to garner intel into what our consumers are doing.
Additionally, the Growth team routinely conducts A/B tests to figure out how to improve the user and membership experience. Though developers aren’t generally interacting with users firsthand, they learn a lot about our users from data.
Our Research team also plays an important role in feeding qualitative consumer insights to technical teams at VSCO. They regularly interview users across varying geographies, age ranges, and user personas. The goal of these interviews is not only to understand current product sentiment, but also to help inform our product development process. Before launching new features, we’re able to amass key knowledge of how users would respond to these additions or changes, cross-check assumptions on hypotheses, and iterate if and where needed.
For the users to come first, they must be a part of the development process from start to finish. The question of how product changes affect and improve our mission are a guiding light in making sure consumers remain our focal point.
Our company operates with a clear list of priorities, at the top of which, are our clients. Account managers know that they can leave a company-wide meeting if one of their clients needs something. It is understood that our customers are number one and come before anyone else. Our Wizards and partners come second which is why we do everything we can to make sure they feel welcome in our office. They are invited to go anywhere and make themselves at home. Many of our HQ meetings are focused on how to improve the experience for our Wizards and partners. HQ comes third, and then everyone else comes in fourth. What this means is that we don’t talk about or glamorize our investors and we don’t devote resources to create buzz in the press. No vanity. No clickbait marketing. At Eden, we stay focused on this hierarchy and always put our clients first.
1 Open Positions
Helping companies launch successful card programs quickly and confidently
San Francisco, CA and Barcelona, Spain
Everything we do is focused on our two customers: businesses and end users. We sell to businesses of all sizes such as Coinbase, Venmo, and Dwolla. That means we have to adapt to the customers’ needs. For example, with Coinbase, we were the first to develop a debit card linked to a Bitcoin wallet. We built an SDK for them to provide full wallet services and corresponding cards. Now, every time someone swipes a card linked to their Coinbase account, whether at the grocery store or online, our platform authorizes the transaction. We also offer APIs so customers can build this experience into their own existing app. To that end, we can create similar white-label offerings for debit cards on other platforms such as Venmo, or wherever there’s an account balance or wallet.
When we first started, we operated more like a consultancy, building one-offs for each customer based on what they requested. In 2018, we transitioned into a product-focused company that delivers an asset-agnostic product which can be easily customized and tailored for each company and customer. We still maintain close relationships with our customers (both businesses and end users) to create the best possible experience.
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:
1 Open Positions
We place the privacy and security of our users before all other concerns. Design and product decisions are driven by what will benefit our users. Our goal is to defeat mass surveillance and protect our users’ privacy. We are popular among journalists, leakers, politicians, activists, dissidents, and security professionals, but we also serve the general public. Our work is open source, so we engage our customers through Github, on social media and through our support staff. Engineers often interact with customers. Customer feedback has a significant influence on our roadmap.
PAX serves two sets of customers: end users and Brand Partners, who are licensed cannabis oil manufacturers. The end users utilize our vaporizer hardware and software. When it comes to designing products for them, our Product team sets priorities and serves as the voice of the customer for our Hardware Engineering team. In the development process, we treat the health and safety of our end users with utmost importance and seriousness.
The second set of customers, Brand Partners, fill Era pods for sale in the dispensary channel in states where cannabis is legal. Some of our current Brand Partners include Jetty, Heavy Hitters, Heylo, Island, Happy Sticks, and Blue River, to name a few. We interact with our Brand Partners on a daily basis and our entire goal is to implement better programs and communication in order to help them operate more effectively. You can only build customer-first products if you are aligned with your customer’s pain points.
Our Software teams also serve multiple customers, both internal and external. In addition to building products for our end users and Brand Partners, we create products to support the other teams at PAX, such as analytic dashboards and testing harnesses for firmware.
When it comes to PAX user data, we maintain a Customer Comes First philosophy. Cannabis use is still a sensitive topic for many of our users, so we take privacy very seriously. We aggregate and anonymize device data in such a way that it isn’t matchable to a specific user. We also believe data should be of mutual benefit to our customers, and we have a fair trade mentality - we don’t just take customer data by default.
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As an early stage company, it is important that all members of our team directly interact with our biggest customers. EyeLevel.ai serves two different types of customers: (1) developers of chat applications, and (2) brands and advertising agencies. We engage directly with our customers to provide customer support, foster a relationship more like a partnership, and brainstorm and vet ideas before we build anything. While certainly not a primary role of an engineer, everyone has some level of exposure to our customers this way.
When we build new products or features, we do it iteratively, progressively creating more real versions. We go from conversations about an idea, to low fidelity prototypes (e.g. paper), to higher fidelity clickable prototypes, to functional prototypes, and then finally to product. We solicit feedback from our customers at every stage.
We try to avoid the trap of building technologies first and finding users second. Instead, we always start by understanding the problems we want to solve for our customers.
This can only be achieved if we really know who they are, understand the problems they face, and are constantly striving to deliver value for them. When it comes to making product decisions we approach them with three lenses—customer, business, and vision—making sure that we really understand the intersections and trade-offs between them.
Our customers are consumer diners, corporate diners, restaurants, and couriers. For our couriers, we build tools to ensure that deliveries go to plan. For our restaurants, we partner closely to help them grow. For our diners, we help them find and order the food they’re craving.
We partner with all of our restaurants directly to ensure that the quality of experience at the restaurant is preserved and enhanced when you order through Caviar. We also strive to be a reliable partner to those restaurants, helping them reach new customers and grow their businesses. By focusing on building a sustainable business, we ensure that Caviar will be there for all of its customers and partners generations from now.
We’ve previously been on a first-name basis with our customers, and while that won’t always be true, we’ll always be absurdly close to them. Everyone on our team talks to users about what they’re building or doing. Our engineers rotate each week to do oncall support (during normal business hours) so that they can help debug support issues. As an engineer, this means that you’ll put down your normal project for the week and (very likely) dive into different parts of the codebase that you probably have never before. This practice is two-fold: it ensures that multiple people are familiar with every part of our codebase and keeps everyone close to our customers and their needs.
We are uncomfortable working with engineers who feel comfortable building things without customer feedback. We’re an incredibly customer-centric company and actively seek out other customer-centric engineers to join our team.
Women sizes 14 and up are over 50% of the population of the US, yet on average they spend significantly less on fashion than their lower sized counterparts. The lack of product variety, poor/demeaning in-store experiences, and societal pressure all contribute to this. These are the problems we are solving for this customer every day at Dia. Every feature we build, every machine learning system we create, and every flow we optimize is aimed at improving the the customer experience. Engineers are fundamental to this process, and are expected to be looking at the data and thinking about the customer for each thing we build. We even style boxes for our customers as part of our onboarding!
Our product roadmap is driven by customer feedback. Everyone in the company has some exposure to customers, be it through shadowing sales and customer success calls, watching recorded user sessions, or participating in user interviews. We’re very driven by what the customer wants as opposed to using cool technology for technology’s sake. All of our product roadmap is driven by customer feedback, discussed, and prioritized by the whole team. We’re looking for engineers that always have their end user in mind.
Modernizing how B2B companies manage invoice-to-cash
Lawrenceville, NJ / Denver and Boulder, CO / Woodbridge, NJ
Our customers range from SMBs to Fortune 500 businesses — all of whom face common challenges with invoicing and receiving payments from their customers, and applying those payments to the proper open invoices so they can realize the revenue. Our products range from Invoicing and Payments, to Cash Application, to Collections and Credit and more, all of them helping automate these challenges. That way, our customers can spend less time chasing down numbers and more time on higher value activities.
Our Product Owners/Managers invest time talking to our customers and watching how they do their jobs. We have a quarterly Customer Advisory Council where select customers get to directly influence our long-term roadmap. We hold UX design sessions and also sponsor an annual Billtrust customer summit. Last but not least, customers attend sprint reviews with some of our teams so they can give direct feedback on features as they are being built.
Distributed Revision Control and Source Code Management
San Francisco, CA (HQ); Boulder, CO; Amsterdam; Tokyo; Remote (65%)
GitHub is a product made for developers, by developers. While GitHub is created for and used by individuals, teams and large enterprises, our number one priority is to provide an amazing developer experience. And we think we have a pretty good sense of what our users’ needs are, considering we are developers ourselves. As members of our own GitHub community, we built Explore, which makes it easy to stay up-to-date with currently trending repositories, browse collections of curated content related to a particular field, and find curated topic pages.
Eaze has a unique first time experience - getting cannabis delivered in under 15 minutes creates a feeling of “Wow!” that our customers remember. The only way we win is by continuing to deliver on that amazing experience.
We work with many stakeholders, from dispensaries and drivers to cannabis brands. When given the choice to make something better for us or for our customers, we’ll always put the customer first.
Customers genuinely love our product. Don’t just take our word for it — check out what some of our customers have to say. Our workspace reflects our unwavering dedication to our customers. Our conference room names are inspired by our “Gustomers” (think Hair Salon, Cheese Market, Boba Shop), and we even have an office mural to showcase the many types of business owners we serve.
While our engineering team doesn’t interact with our customers on a day-to-day basis, we understand that every Gustie directly or indirectly impacts our over 60,000 customers (over 1% of all U.S. businesses!). Eddie Kim, our CTO and co-founder, put it best: “No matter what we’re building, we make sure every line of code has two subjects in mind: the people we work with and the people we serve. They’re the heroes and heroines of the programs we write. And when you instill that kind of spirit into your team, it somehow lights up everything you do.”
21 Open Positions
Before we wrote any code, we focused on a painful problem we knew we could solve in a new and elegant way. The problem is one that everyone has experienced: sharing money in a way that doesn’t involve a joint bank account. Through the experience of building an app for ourselves, we realized that startlingly few financial products take a customer-first approach. Financial products tend to focus on maximizing profit first, and solving problems second. Much of finance is very prescribed, rigid, and sterile. However, banking and consumer finance will go through major changes over the next decade, and we believe the bank of the future won’t look or feel like a bank at all. Instead, we believe it will look and feel like a consumer tech product.
As a team, one of our core strengths is our collective experience building consumer technology products. We’ve spent time building products at Rdio, Etsy, Svpply, NFL, Gin Lane, Google, and eBay, and hold a deep sense of respect and deference for our customers.
1 Open Positions
While our customer base of YC partners and founders is small, they are a critical group of users. Our software supports everything we do at YC: founder applications, our public recommendation system where anyone can recommend a startup, the Startup School MOOC, our social network for founders called Bookface, our Demo Day software, and of course, Hacker News (though HN is run by a separate team of LISP hackers).
1 Open Positions
We build custom solutions for our clients. Thus, we need to understand their business and their pain points to build them a solution that will work for them. We work for a lot of smaller businesses or startups that are not yet widely known. Our bigger and more well-known clients are Bosch, Zurich, DA Direkt, SAP, and BASF.
How we communicate with our clients depends mostly on how the project is organised. If the client is part of our scrum team, engineers will communicate directly with the client. In more "traditionally managed" projects, communication is mostly channeled via PMs. When it comes to scrum, we do our meetings with the client in either our office or in theirs. Mostly, we try to rotate so that the client is regular visiting our offices as well. That seems to help to build trust in us when the client can "see" us work.
Since our marketing strategy is based on mouth to mouth propaganda, we make sure to deliver the best service to our clients.
Prior to CoinTracker, we started building a fintech app that automatically invested users’ excess cash. We quickly became frustrated with the status quo of existing financial infrastructure. We were heavily constrained by dated technologies like ACH – it took 11 days (!) for the first bank transfer between our accounts to settle.
This fueled our excitement for blockchain, and in parallel, we increased our personal investment in cryptocurrency. As crypto-investors, we found it difficult to figure out which crypto assets we owned, let alone their cost basis, performance, ROI, or tax implications. We further validated that this problem was widespread in online cryptocurrency communities and saw that all existing solutions were basically built around importing CSVs from different exchanges or worse: manually entering every transaction line-by-line. We wanted something more seamless and automated — so we built it.
Being customers of our own product has meant that we have had deep authentic empathy for our users since day one. Everyone at CoinTracker is a user of the product and we maintain an organically grown Telegram group of power users who generally provide unprompted feedback of new features within 30 minutes of launching. In general, we speak to dozens of users every single day and this helps us maintain an edge on building products our users love.
Our typical customer runs a fitness studio offering group classes. Think: CrossFit, yoga, pilates, dance, bootcamps, etc. The vast majority of our customers started from a passion for their craft, and a history of improving people’s lives through health and fitness. We tend to serve and partner with more passionate-yoga-instructors-who-open-their-own-studio businesses versus globo gyms.
We’re incredibly proud to make a real difference in the lives of these small business owners and instructors. Our NPS is in the high 60s, and our scores and comments often look like the following:
(Those are literally three responses from the first page!)
I’m sure we have more effusive/high impact quotes, but they all have this theme: product and service are great. We take great pride in that. We’re always looking for ways to be more efficient and streamlined, but the goal will never be 100% self-service. Our Customer Success team will always offer 1-1 setup calls with customers. We will always do account setup checks and reach out to make sure customers are getting the most from TeamUp.
We work hard to make our product top notch, but understand that our customers value the ability to speak to someone who really understands their business and who really understands our product. As a result, we really know our customers, and that drives our product development.
Below: TeamUp’s Customer Team at their last meetup in London.
Everything we do is motivated by the question: "What can we do to deliver real value to our customers?"
As engineers, we bear the ultimate responsibility for what our product does and are expected to fully understand the mindset of our clients and their daily struggles. We collaborate very closely with the business team and regularly listen in on customer calls (we aim for once a week). Our single engineer-cum-product-manager leads the effort of turning these learnings into a roadmap, broken down into actionable tasks. We then meet every two weeks to refine, prioritize, and assign those tasks. We think of product development as an engineering function and strive for everyone on the team to have the necessary exposure and latitude to be strong drivers of customer happiness.
Our customers vary from small startups like Inform Direct to large international organisations that have been around for decades like the charity Shelter. We like to work agile and give our customers lots of opportunity to give us feedback. We use Trello to allow our developers to communicate directly with our customers to get answers promptly and logged in the correct place. We always have at least two developers working any given software project. We typically have a single point of contact on the customer side, someone who is responsible for gathering information, answering our questions, and making decisions. We usually work with the customer remotely, but will have face to face meetings from time to time.
We are an open-source project with >7k community developers who contribute to our code. We have a Slack channel that has >6k members and we regularly interact with people in the channel. We actively seek feedback from the community, our customers, and view feedback as a necessary component in order to build a successful product. We also have a culture of peer review and feel we can always learn from industry experts, and actively seek external opinions.
Whether it’s your first week or your hundredth, as an engineer, you have the opportunity to connect with our customers directly. We obsess over customers. We ship fast and gather customer feedback through customer phone calls and on-site visits. This quick feedback loop allows us to build products that get at the root of what our customers are solving for, rather than simply building what we think they need.
Some companies are design-driven or vision-driven; at Gem, we like to think we're customer-driven. Customer empathy is always top of mind, from customer support and sales all the way down to our code. Engineers sit in on sales, customer success, and support conversations every two weeks to stay in tune with what excites our customers, what’s broken, and what they wish we’d build. When building a new feature, we always engage with customers to understand what pain points we should be solving for. Our roadmap is heavily shaped by feedback from current (and potential!) customers, because their feedback provides the single strongest signal on what to do next.
Being customer-focused has served us well. Recruiters love our product, which has led to amazing word of mouth growth and 100 enterprise customers like Dropbox, Pinterest, and Slack in just 18 months.
For the last several decades, city planners and officials have been hand-drawing routes on paper printouts. The process of shifting a bus route a few blocks requires discussions and debates between so many players, from state and local agencies to community groups, can take months. Knowing and understanding this process and the problems our customers face is the first step, and must be done before building out the solutions.
We are already working with 225+ cities in the US, including San Jose, Oakland, and Boston, and have cities in 9 other countries using Remix including Australia, Canada, and even Iceland. This year, we’re actively expanding our international presence and we certainly can’t do it alone. If you want to join us or reach out for any other reason, we’d love to hear from you!
Unlike most companies, we don’t have one single customer type. We serve everyone in the real estate ecosystem: buyers, agents, lenders, you name it. Though our product touches everyone, our primary goal is to make homeownership achievable, and we orient mostly around the needs of our buyers.
Serving our customers is so important to us that one of our core values to be an “invited guest to dinner.” We're not a key player in the home buying process. We’re guests. We view ourselves as invited guests to help with the process and our only goal is to make things better. We know that buying a home isn’t easy – in fact, it’s one of the more arduous and most emotional processes people go through in their lives. We use our platform to alleviate the pressure of timing and uncertainty, giving homebuyers peace of mind when they are looking to purchase their dream home.
To make sure we’re meeting the needs of our buyers and agents, we rely on direct feedback from our customers and from our talented team of Account Managers who assist all parties involved in every Ribbon transaction. Sometimes the best way to serve our customers is by flying down to Charlotte to meet with agents in person, and we’ll do just that. We’ll pick their brain on how we can do better for them and turn their feedback into an actionable roadmap.
Photo below of us opening our Charlotte office in style!
Our customers range from marketers to product managers to app developers, who want to create powerful customer experiences using deep linking and understand and leverage its value using attribution -- and we make this extremely easy. Check out some case studies on how some of the largest mobile app developers like AirBnb and Instacart are using Branch. By having such great relationships with our customers, we have access to an incredible amount of direct feedback to help guide our product and engineering decisions. Our goal as a company is to help our customers grow their apps and we take that into account in every decision we make.
As a company, we believe that the one thing we can’t change is our mission to help creative people create. Our platform is a reflection of this. We make decisions, build, and change features with our end users in mind and as our core decision-making framework.
Our customers are a diverse group of passionate creatives and entrepreneurs, and their energy animates everything we do at BackerKit! One of the best parts about working at BackerKit is seeing the cool and diverse projects that our customers are creating. We are also incredibly lucky to work with BackerKats who are creators themselves. We learn from our customers as well as from one another, and it is truly magical when those groups overlap. In fact, BackerKit will match up to 10% of funding for any employee who launches their own crowdfunding campaign! We support all creatives, including the ones on our team.
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Everyone at Handshake is trying to help the same audience – students, most of whom are looking to make the difficult transition from college to career. That’s why our core value of “Students First” is so important, because it touches all aspects of the work we do at Handshake.
The Handshake product teams are divided up by the different types of customers we serve: Student, University, and Employer. The Student team clearly embodies the “Students First” mentality by building features to guide students in the college-to-career journey and ultimately show the plethora of internship and job opportunities that exist out there. What may not be obvious, though, is that our other product teams also put “Students First.” The Employer team focuses on creating products that help employers reach more students across the United States. By helping them diversify their candidate pools, they can reach more students and provide even more opportunities beyond just in-person career fairs and info sessions. Similarly, the University team business enables career centers to do their jobs more efficiently, enabling career service users to reach out to all of their students to guide them through the difficult transition from college to career.
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