— Startup Victoria (@StartupVic) July 22, 2014
I really enjoyed going along to the fireside chat with Paul Bassat & John Collison on Tuesday night, and it was great to see some familiar faces in the crowd. If the name ‘John Collison’ doesn’t sound familiar to you, I’m sure it will soon, John is one of the co-founding brothers of Stripe – the payments API taking on the likes of PayPal around the world.
Paul Bassat showed us how real interviews should be done – something that the guy from Y Combinator who interviewed Mark Zuckerberg can learn from (if you want to learn how NOT to do interviews – go find the 2013 and 2014 Y Combinator interviews on YouTube).
It was interesting to hear how John and his brother started Stripe – after coming across some real problems of their own whilst working on their previous subscription based company.
The brothers found online payment processing to be cumbersome – particularly when working with recurring payments and subscriptions. In these cases, most payment processing had to be done by using custom code with heavy programs built in-house. So, they spoke with their friends, confirmed it was a real problem, and set out on their way to build something better. I’m sure it wasn’t quite so easy, but you get the gist.
Having seen Stripe pop up recently in Aus, with the credentials of so many big companies using their APIs, you’d be right to wonder why you hadn’t heard about the company sooner, especially since they’ve been around for four years. What you might not know is that Stripe went through a 2 year private beta period before launching in Silicon Valley and then branching out. John mentioned that the beta period had been necessary in order to iron out the bugs, and the product really wasn’t ready before that.
As an outsider, you might think that online payments is well and truly charted territory, but there’s a long way to go apparently. John also mentioned that Stripe has really only covered about 1% of his vision for the company. Describing online payments as “one of the last Google sized problems” left on the Internet. It does sound like an exciting time for Stripe as they tackle the next 99%.
As well as attending the fireside chat, it was great to have a chat with Susan Wu at the launch party. I’ve met Susan at a few hackathon events, and even received some constructive criticism from her at the Startup Weekend Womens event, as feedback on our teams pitch for VeryFlexy – a flexible working app for mums. Susan’s main comment was that we were smart, but too theoretical – which made sense since none of us had launched a product before. In the last couple of months, I’ve come to understand what Susan really meant by her comment, and in hindsight, she was absolutely right.
It’s nice to be able to look back over the last few months and think about how much I’ve learn’t, how many wonderful people I’ve met, and the awesome things that I’ve been able to do along the way. I’ll be mentoring at NodeBots day in Melbourne tomorrow and working with around 50 people to build Arduino robots – I could never have imagined doing that 6 months ago, and I can’t wait!