Our UBC Journey

Tony Xiao and I came to UBC at the middle of September hoping to work with some student ambassadors to help us grow Taylr on campus. To say that what actually happened surpassed our expectations would be a severe understatement.

This is where it all began.

You see, back in September, we had this vague idea of what it meant to be a “student ambassador” which was largely influenced by the growth stories of Tinder, YikYak, WayUp, among others. As an ambassador, you will … throw large campus wide frat parties? Wear a costume and high five everyone walking by (like YikYak)? Pitch a tent and give out free ping pong balls?

It also wasn’t clear to us how involved we wanted to be with our ambassador team. Should we view our ambassadors as contractors and delegate unit level tasks that we come up with? Maybe it makes sense to work with them as consultants and consult them on how to grow Taylr on campus.

Not to mention that our product had major flaws. That shouldn’t have been a surprise since we developed the product in complete isolation from our users. Classic engineering mistake.

What kind of users were we focusing on? Funny you should ask, because the Qiming from September would have told you “well anyone in the world who’s interested in meeting more people!” Getting product-market-fit without a concretely defined market turns out to be … a very tough problem.

Fast forward a month. Now it is the end of October. Some things have changed.

I think one of the best decisions we’ve made is to fully involve our campus team in everything we do. Not only do we give our entire team access to our product roadmap, but we actively include them in product and UX related discussions.

We made it a point for everyone to understand that Tony and I are not their “bosses” and we don’t want to be treated as their “bosses.” We are simply members of this team, who are equally qualified to take on work as everyone else. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in a company where the intern assigns work to the co-founder :)

What happened as a result of this kind of company culture? Full transparency. No one is really afraid to stand up for what they believe in, and call out others for making decisions that they don’t understand. No one is afraid to ask for help with things that are not in their area of expertise.

Sometimes I worry about how scalable this sort of culture is, but then I remind myself to take this journey one day at a time. Today, I am grateful for the opportunity of working with so many talented people.

Here’s to the amazing stories that lie ahead, and the many more people who will inspire me to grow, socially and professionally.