Till provides powerful financial tools to help renters pay, stay, and thrive in their homes. In parallel, our products optimize our landlord partners’ revenue. We strive to build profitable, scaled impact.
There is a rental eviction crisis in the US. Till helps solve it.
Many Americans spend the vast majority of their income on rent. Most of the time, there are other bills, like car payments or childcare, and paying a lump sum at the beginning of the month puts these renters in a cash-flow crunch.
Unfortunately, it's too easy for this situation to turn into a downward spiral where one missed payment turns into a late fee that can't be paid, which turns into an eviction notice and potential legal costs. It's a slippery, and dangerous, slope.
On the flipside, this situation isn't good for landlords either. Evictions can cost up to $10,000. Many landlords want to work with renters, but haven't had the technology to accommodate them at scale.
Till helps solve this problem by allowing people to spread their rent payments throughout the month, without the threat of late fees.
Our work offers renters flexibility with their finances and stability in their home. It boosts the bottom line for landlords. As a team of former and current renters and landlords ourselves, we understand and empathize with the problems that we work every day to solve.
We go out of our way to bring people into the conversation as early as possible and to actually include their input.
We are a small enough engineering team right now (10 people) that it is very noticeable if someone hasn't spoken up or been part of a conversation. When that's the case, we ask that particular person about their opinion.
Being inclusive and transparent in our conversations, from product to strategy to raising money to our hiring process, helps us make better decisions. We want everyone's ideas so we can move forward with the best ones.
To make sure everyone is included in our decisions and planning, we're intentional about accommodating the different styles that people prefer to communicate in. Not everyone is comfortable with real-time feedback. Not everyone is able to formulate their thoughts on the spot.
That’s part of the reason we are developing a strong culture of writing, where we ask everyone to write out their thoughts before meetings. The team is expected to come to meetings having read what everyone has written. This not only makes our meetings more efficient and productive, it ensures that everyone's opinions are voiced, heard, and considered.
In some ways, coding is the least important thing one of our engineers can be doing. The most important thing is working to understand the problem.
Our engineers work closely with Product to define the problem itself, work out a solution, and then go write the code.
For example, one of our engineers recently worked on optimizing our onboarding flow for new residents. He pulled the Mixpanel data, created hypotheses, and then called residents to ask them how they feel about the process. After discovering the best fixes, he wrote the code to implement them. The path of actions he took in order to improve our onboarding flow was self-directed.
This kind of start-to-finish approach to identifying problems, formulating possible solutions, and then implementing them is the best way to ship code that improves our product for customers.
We hire the right people, establish the outcomes we expect, and trust our engineers to get it done.
After someone has made it through our interview process and proven their engineering skill, they have our full trust.
Johnny, our CTO, emphasizes that there are 1,000 different ways to solve a problem. The fact that someone approaches a problem differently than he might doesn’t mean that their approach is wrong.
When people are micromanaged, it undermines their confidence and has a cascading effect on their productivity and creativity. Micromanagement teaches people to optimize for pleasing a manager, instead of truly solving the problem at hand.
Engineers work with our customer experience team, sales team, growth team, and anyone else who might help them better define and solve a problem.
For example, our sales team might tell us that a landlord partner needs a certain feature built before coming on board. Or, the customer experience team might tell us about an issue residents are facing. When this happens, engineers work closely with someone from that team to understand the issue deeply. The only way we can solve these problems is to avoid communication silos and collaborate across teams.
One of the ways we ensure cross-functional collaboration is through a Slack app called Donut. Every two weeks, Donut matches each team member with someone from a different department for a virtual coffee. These conversations help us build camaraderie and relationships across the company.
Our services prevent evictions from happening. With work this important, it's essential that we move quickly to ensure Till delivers for both residents and landlords.
In general, we are able to stay on pace and on course with our long-term roadmap. However, we are a small team and we have to be able to shift our focus to meet new needs of our customers.
For example, before Covid-19, our product was a rental loan meant to combat predatory lending practices. While it was growing well, we needed to pivot when Covid-19 hit, because we didn't want people taking loans that might leave them worse off as unemployment spiked.
Within a month, we stopped taking loan applications, built a new product called Flexible Rent, and launched a pilot version.
Ultimately, we are responsive to the needs of our customers. If a customer needs a certain feature to be able to join Till next month, we may have someone shift their priorities to make that happen.
We work to strike the right balance between sticking to our roadmap and being reactive to new needs.
The best ideas emerge when everyone can confidently share their opinion.
Debate between people with different perspectives generates new ideas and helps us all to understand both the problem we're facing and how to solve it. But, that debate is only possible when people feel safe to say what they believe without fear of saying the wrong thing.
When our CTO Johnny brings a problem to our engineers, aka "the brain trust", they feel comfortable enough to share their opinion. Moreover, they feel empowered to question whether we're even focused on the right problem in the first place.
Making Till the best it can be for residents and landlords requires creativity and rigorous thinking, which are only possible when everyone can share their honest opinions.
First and foremost, we are a product company, not a code-writing shop.
Many Americans face the prospect of rental eviction every day. At Till, solving that problem is always top of mind.
If solving that problem involves writing code, that's great. But if it means analyzing data, talking to our customer experience team, or talking to residents, we will do that too.
To some extent, all of our engineers are product managers in their own right, because of how early they get involved in the process and how much they influence what ends up getting built.