On August 15, 2017, I officially joined Paystack as a Product (Implementation) Specialist. This post aims to highlight the process that led to this hiring.
The first time I used Paystack was when I tested it on the demo page at paystack.com/demo. When I tried it, there was no 2 factor authentication required so putting in my card details and testing a payment made a N100 deduction immediately. I was in awe. I was more familiar with the several steps it took to make a payment on services like Quickteller and was so surprised it could be this easy.
Understandably, there are concerns of cards being stolen and being easily used on Paystack-powered platforms. But Paystack explained that only merchants with low risk of fraud being perpetrated on their platform didn’t have the two-factor authentication check enabled.
What this proved to me was that payments could be made easy and seamless.
Why I Joined Paystack
By year 2017, Paystack was already one of my favourite startups. Here are the reasons why.
As a customer paying on other sites using Paystack, I loved the attention to detail which made it so easy to effect a payment. When you fill in your card number, the cursor automatically moves to the field for expiry date of card. Soon as you type in the month and year, the cursor moves to the CVV field. Similarly, when you are typing in your card PIN, your request begins processing immediately after inputting the 4th digit. Till date, there is no Nigerian payment gateway that does this so smoothly.
The checkout interface, dashboard and every other aspect seemed to have been made with the user in mind. This user centric focus made it a no-brainer that when the time came to integrate payments into a client’s site, Paystack was my first point of call. Again, I found the whole process from signup to integration very seamless.
Paystack was one company I knew which was quick at rolling out helpful features that empower merchants and lowers the bar for accepting payments. In late 2016, a feature called Payment Pages was released. The idea was to allow merchants set up a page on Paystack where customers could pay. With this, it meant that social media vendors, for example, who don’t have have e-commerce websites for their wares but rather carry out transactions on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can have their customers pay them from anywhere by sending them a Payment Page link. There has been lots of other features such as Pay With Bank, Invoices, Managed Accounts, Payment Timelines, etc which are released on a monthly basis.
Another reason this was my favourite company was because Paystack was one of the most open Nigerian companies in the tech space. While they/we are no Buffer yet, I enjoy reading insights from the company on The road to ₦1 billion in monthly transaction volume at Paystack, on redesigning the Paystack site and so on. Paystack even open sourced the code to their website. More recently, we have shared how we approach Product Analytics at Paystack and Shola posted the application to YCombinator that got Paystack into the YCombinator programme as the first Nigerian startup to be accepted. And what’s even better, these articles are written from the angle of being helpful by providing information to the community than mere hype pieces or chest-beating announcements.
The last reason for me, was the people. I knew some of the people of Paystack but only at a distance. I read Ezra’s pieces on Radar and though scalding, they were deep and full of unpretentious knowledge. Ope, I knew from his work and he was and still is my best designer in the country. One person that I knew more closely was Emmanuel Quartey who was the General Manager of MEST before leaving a few months before my application. He was such an exceptional manager, one of the best — so if he could leave to join Paystack, I knew Paystack had to be a big deal.
NB: Emmanuel is the one that really sold Paystack to me. He interviewed me and he lay one of the best pitches I have ever heard. That speech is still keeping me going!
How I Joined Paystack
Simply put, I applied.
It was June 2017, and I was about to finish from MEST. I was not sure what I wanted to do next, but none of the few options I had felt just right. On a fateful day, I saw a tweet from the official Paystack Twitter account:
I had not considered working at Paystack but after reading the job description, I figured it was a perfect fit for me. A role that was not too technical for me to be lost in, yet technical enough to be exciting.
The job description was basically
- Provide support for developers looking to integrate Paystack into their products,
- Develop and maintain plugins and third party libraries, and
- Develop special apps/websites for high profile clients.
I tweeted this, thinking out loud
This reply convinced me to go for it, mostly because I did not bother to @mention the handle, yet someone bothered to send a response.
The job application process involved sending a resume and a cover letter. Here is the application I sent in.
My resume was very basic and not particularly impressive. I decided to keep it simple because I don’t believe in adding unnecessary items to make a resume look impressive — anyone reviewing can cut through the bullshit.
The cover letter was a bit more informative, peppered with links to relevant projects where necessary.
Looking back, this seems pretty basic as well. What I however, think I did right was;
- Show that I understand and have been following Paystack closely
- I have had a wide range of experience across different roles in different industries which seemed a perfect fit for this role. In honesty, I could have been more elaborate about what companies and what I have achieved and that was a failing on my part.
- Lastly, I have shown a deliberate attempt at improvement as well as indicated my interest in growing my skill.
This application though did not get me the job — it didn’t have to. All it needed to do was to help me get a foot in the door by the way of being invited for an interview.
When I am being interviewed, I focus on getting my nervousness out of the way by seeing the interviewer as a friend. This allows me to have an honest, earnest conversation without nervously bumbling through a speech. I know I am a passionate speaker, and this shows in everyday conversations. This worked for me when I was being interviewed to join MEST, in other more intense situations and I believed it worked for me when being interviewed for this role.
Almost 6 months of being at Paystack, the ‘Why’ of joining Paystack has not changed. I am a part of the journey now and what has happened is that I now see more things that would have been a reason for joining if I was privy to that info then.
Also, for the reasons I stated earlier, I have only gotten more examples to solidify my points. I was scared initially that on joining, I will find that things are not what they seem to be and that I have been disillusioned — it has turned out to be the opposite. Turns out there is so much amazing stuff happening that people do not know about yet.
One of my favourite things about working at Paystack is the people. I work with people who are rockstars in their respective fields, yet are kind, helpful and genuinely care.
I remember the day I landed at the airport from Accra, Shola (our CEO) and Emmanuel (my Team Lead) came along with the driver to pick me from the airport. I didn’t expect that and to me that gesture was the first pointer to showing I joined the right team.
In the same vein, the team absolutely cares about making business easier for merchants on the Paystack platform. I have seen product ideas come up because of repeated problems merchants were having and we moved obstacles to solve those.
Being at Paystack is such an exciting ride, as we build the future of payments in Nigeria.