Why you should (not) join Xendit

We’re always on the recruiting bandwagon and I’m a big believer people should know what they’re getting themselves into before they jump on the bandwagon. Taking a page from a previous professor’s book, if we bare all and they still want to join, then they’re likely going to be the best. His was more perverse – he discouraged everyone to become an entrepreneur – I suspect the ones who still do just might have enough intrinsic motivation to make it.

There’s lot of great reasons to join us. We’re growing fast, we are a team of underdogs and it’s us against the world. You will accomplish more here than likely anywhere else and you can take on as much responsibility as you can handle. This part goes on and on and if you pass our case interviews you’ll see the sell.

I want to focus on why you shouldn’t. I say these in all our interviews but it’s easy enough to post here too.

1. We’re direct

For Indonesians, we’re direct.  For Americans we’re indirect.  One of our cultural phenomenon is that we’re super tight.  We live, work, play and eat together so it’s a little like family.  This tightness is actually very different from other startups and a great benefit for the way we work.  It does mean we’re very open and less willing to take shit or ignore shortcomings from people.  We also move too fast to beat around the bush.  This means we’re very direct: with instructions, feedback, comments, written words.  So if easily offended, try something else.  If American, then we’re super nice 🙂

2. We work harder than anyone else we know

Like actually.  We work nights, weekends and whatever we need to to get the job done.  We’re results and customer driven.  If our customer needs something and you’re on holiday – you still get to reply.  If it’s 10pm on Sunday, you get to reply.  We know we’re not as well pedigreed as other companies, not as Indonesian as Indonesians and not as Silicon Valley as Silicon Valley.  This is the one input we do control and so we work it hard.  Not Chinese Chinese/Japan/Korean hard, but Chinese American hard.

3. Trust is super important

We rely heavily on trust.  When you come in, we trust immediately.  We’ll be super optimistic else we wouldn’t have hired you. We’ll give you the keys to the safe, we’ll pile your plate up till you say “I can’t handle it” or you perform poorly.  You’ll get as much responsibility as you want as long as you’re performing.  This is super cool for most because you’ll do more interesting stuff than most people your age, (this includes the girl who was 7 years in PE before us).

However, the flipside of this trust equation is that once it’s lost, it’s really hard to gain back.  In fact, most people who reach this point end up leaving.  It’s just too hard to perform well over a period of time to impress us and get back on the horse.  This means we’re not a 3 strikes out kind of place.  We’re a perform your best all the time kind of place.

How to onboard your users successfully

(Summary of book “Intercom on Onboarding”)

“We’ve discovered the only proper way to onboard people is to understand where they are, what capabilities they have, where they want to get to, and then use a combination of interface, communication, tooltips, nudges, and messages to ensure they’re never stuck on the path to achieving their outcome. That’s what successful onboarding looks like – unifying a successful business outcome and a successful customer one.”  Des Traynor, Cofounder, Intercom

Start with a story

The first task is to understand your user’s journey to success.  This journey is rich in emotions and stories that will expose what your customers truly care about, what help you can provide and when you can help them.

Likely, you need to talk to those who have just become highly engaged users, e.g. when they’ve started paying or some other equivalent metric for your business.

In executing these interviews, you’ll want to accomplish the following:

  • Understand their motivations and frustrations before they chose you. This gives you a basis for your future marketing content and channels.
  • Understand their definition of “success” with your product. This is the magic moment when they realise your purpose and value
  • Recount the steps from decision to use you until the point of success, e.g. signup to first email campaign created
  • Be specific in your questions to draw out emotions and specific actionable information “Which part was hardest?” vs “Was it easy?”
  • Who else did they need to adopt successfully, e.g. budget holders. You’ll want to be able to empower tech people with data to convince the budget holders.  Or you may need materials to help a business person convince dev teams an integration is easy

Here’s an example email to use to solicit time from your users

Hello [name],

My name is Moses and I’m trying to make our setup process better. I’d love your personal take on it.

Could we schedule a 20-30 min chat in the next couple of days?



Actionable takeaways:

  • Conduct in-depth interviews with all fully integrated users
  • Make credible PDFs to allow folks to fight your case, e.g. tech team to bring to budget holders

Design an onboarding path

Based on your starting points and “success” endpoints, create an onboarding experience that makes sense to a user trying to complete a “job”:

  1. Free trial is your opportunity to sell
  2. Before they’re signed up:
    • Webinars, 1:1s, Docs, How to videos, Best practice blog posts,
    • Get customers to tell their stories of success with Intercom,
  3. After they’re signed up:
    • Build data driven onboarding messaging schedule
    • Trigger updates for pro users who aren’t using all the features
    • Every customer support ticket should have two tags 1) product area and 2) type of convo, e.g. confusion, bug, feature request


1. Doing a trial

Successful trial should have people going up to the right.  People that are going to churn have a very predictable path downwards.  The danger zone is before they’ve failed and realize you’ve charged them.  That’s too late, you got to get them in the middle.

Trial usage graph

(originally from www.intercom.com)

To achieve a successful trial:

  • Understand “success” outcomes
  • Ensure you have targeted docs, tutorials and case studies to help them succeed
  • Each definition of success should have a corresponding action you expect to be complete by Day 3 and Day 7, e.g. has not messaged a user but signed up <3 days ago
  • Understand what failure looks like and once you see the signs, you need to intervene

Actionable takeaways:

  • Build per user usage (txn count and volume)
  • Build targeted docs, tutorials and case studies
  • Create success journey and intercept when not being achieved
  • Build targeted messaging schedule based on behavior (good and bad)

Hacks for before they’re signed up

Social login

  • 1 click signup which reduces friction
  • Increases monthly authenticated users / monthly unqiue users
  • Facebook is most popular preference for C2C, Google for business

Social login preferences










(originally from www.intercom.com)


Contextual tutorial

  • The more they complete these actions, the more likely they are to self trigger into a retained user
  • For example, Pinterest waits till you click on the picture to kick off the tutorial

Clear path to completion

  • Less likely to abandon if people know how long is left
  • For example, these could be steps, progress bar and checklists

Early value for the user

  • Focus on the job they want to complete
  • Twitter’s KPI on 20 users, so help you follow 20 people with 1 click

Progressive profiling

  • As for “just enough” information, e.g. LinkedIn asks you over time with “Strength rating”

Connect teams

  • Slack lets new team members join without additional permissions if you’ve verified with company email
  • If group is required to onboard then provide method to skip parts a user can’t do (e.g. business person can’t do javascript snippet).  Let them skip to the part they can accomplish.  Then provide invites to those who can unblock integration.



(originally from www.intercom.com)

Actionable takeaways:

  • Build social logins
  • Always show path to completion
  • Push to magic moment
  • Only ask for information when you can demonstrate value
  • Allow invitations so a team can join

3. Hacks after they’ve signed up

Onboarding new features

  • Bring on new features In the right context, i.e. when they’re feeling the pain or are in the right part of the site

new features


(originally from www.intercom.com)

  • Use educational content as your empty state, e.g. Trello provides welcome board with pre-made To Do cards which provide an explanation
  • Anticipate questions – give information in hints when they need it.
    “One of the best ways to do this is to center information around the intent of the customer. For example, when a customer creates a new campaign, by clicking on the create button they’ve shown intent. With new users interested, now is a good time to start sharing more advanced information like best practice guides. This type of careful consideration really does drive engagement.”

Actionable takeaways:

  • Build data driven messaging schedule – new features, risk of churn
  • Trigger updates for pro users who aren’t using all the features
  • Make sure every customer support ticket has two tags 1) product area and 2) type of conversation




6 months in

I’ve spend the last 3 weeks spending time with my alma mater, my investors and YC folks.  It’s been a rare opportunity to abstract myself from the grind of a startup and zoom out to 10,000 feet and think.  Here’s my learnings from the most recent experiences:

Successful people are human

A recent weekend brought the second ever YC Camp.  YC alums are invited to get offline for a weekend of mountain air, campfire chat and conversations with some of the most intelligent and successful folk in our part of the world.  Topics ranged from Trump to what’s more likely to end us: AI or synthesized biology.

You would be chatting to someone for 15 minutes around some smores about something interesting like what’s the real potential of chatbots, then I’d ask hey, what do you do.  Nearly always, my mind would be blown.  Amongst the ranks were Dan Ingalls, pioneer of object oriented computing; Justin Kan, founder of Twitch which sold to Amazon for $1b; Kevin Hale, who with little investment led a remote team to win in the online form space; Jared, who built Scribd and John Collision, who founded Stripe.  An illustrious list of successful folk.  There were lesser known names who demand just as much respect.  Oh, I just got acquired for a cool hundred million.  I’m from XYZ, which later research would reveal was worth a few billions dollars.  Yet, we invariably wore the same things: nike shoes, chinos, collared shirt and patagonia jacket.  We talked as equals and I was treated like one.  

Takeaway: success or failure – be human.

Be bold enough to have a conversation – they’re human too.

Be humble enough to never talk down – they’re human too.  

Think Big

I had many conversations with investors and advisors.  There were as many great pieces of advice relevant to our situation.  However, I was having lunch with one of my mentors when he  blew my mind.

We are going into a period of experimentation and had unconsciously drawn some constraints around our future paths: geographically and functionally.  Given our current status, we were looking to launch experiments that are a slight extension from our current product.  Instead, he smashed those thoughts by reframing our path to date.  We’re in a highly enviable situation.  We have time, a team, exciting markets and a willingness to fight.  We should think about solutions that can scale globally to solve the biggest pains we can find rather than limit our option set.  Mind blown.

Takeaway: reframe your current situation based on your strengths.  Now think global and do forward planning.

Think Small

Some of my favorite moments were outside, breathing in the crisp Bay Area air and contemplating life with some of the folk I get to call my close friends.  It seems our generation is one of contemplation with a willingness to change often and a desperate desire to find purpose and profit.  A recent Tim Ferris podcast had incepted stoic philosophical discussions amongst many of the conversations.

Strangely, it’s in these small moments I’m happiest.  When I abstract myself out and watch our conversation from above.  When I see a smile in my wife’s eyes.  When an investor/advisor or mentor blows my mind.  

In the grind of startup life I hadn’t had many of these moments in the past few months.  The last one was when one of the team sent me a Slack message that joining us was the best decision her career and that we felt like her family.  

Takeaway: I’m going to go for more small moments

Let me introduce Xendit


Let me introduce Xendit.  We are building mobile P2P payments in South East Asia.  We’re going to leap past debit and credit cards so people can transact via their mobile phone.

Check us out at www.xendit.co