Episode 5: Building a SaaS Flywheel: Making ecosystems not suck, with Expensify


All Xero Developer Podcast episodes

Hosted by Nick Houldsworth and Dan Young

Expensify is one of the more well known B2B SaaS products in the world, and for a team of 130 people it punches well above its weight. T.J. Ferriss, Business development and strategic partnerships at Expensify takes Nick and Dan through how he got into the SaaS world and why he’s loving it at Expensify.

The podcast focuses on the key way that you can make partner benchmarks work for you when integrating with partners. And T.J. talks exclusive boutique events, offshoring and SaaS company culture – making Dan wonder how to get in on an invite to the exclusive Bora Bora conference.


Episode transcript


Nick Houldsworth (@nickhouldsworth) –  [NH]

Dan Young (@dethklok66) – [DY]

TJ Ferriss [TJ]

NH: Welcome to the Xero Developer Podcast. I'm Nick Houldsworth.

DY: And I'm Dan Young.

NH: We're here in San Francisco which is a exciting place to be. We're on the last leg of our Xero Developer Roadshow. Aren't we, Dan?

DY: That's right. We're also here to chat about ecosystems and how to build amazing SaaS platforms. I believe, at least from my perspective, the best SaaS companies have the most creative tagline. Zapier makes you happier. Xero, beautiful accounting software. But one company sticks out in my mind, Nick, and that's Expensify, expense reports that don't suck. I think that's brilliant. I used to think that was actually pretty harsh on expense reports, but then I went traveling for work and it was a nightmare. Came back from work with about a hundred different receipts in my bag and lost half of them, never got paid back for it, so yeah. But to tell us more about that, we're joined by TJ Ferriss who is in business development and strategic partnerships at Expensify. Welcome, TJ.

T.J: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Dan, Nick. Good to be here.

NH: Oh, that's over to me, that part. Yes, now it's great to be here in person. We're normally doing these remotely from all corners of the world. We actually get to sit in the same room together and look at each other in the eye. I'm looking at my friends in the eye here. You can't actually see this. You just have to take my word for it. TJ, thanks again for coming in.

T.J: No problem.

NH: We're really pleased to have you, both as a partner, to have you guys along to our roadshow and grateful for the opportunity to interview you about building platforms about working with platforms. I guess we're going to talk through a lot of that in the course of the show, but maybe if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey with Expensify first.

T.J: Yeah, no problem. I've been with Expensify for four great years. Right now I sit in our business development and strategic partners channels so that's kind of all thing external outside of our customers, so working with Xero, other accounting partners, HR assistance, travel, receipts. It really runs a gamut of any technology partner that our system touches. Before that, it really helps in roles with our Expensify approved accountants channel and various other channels that we've built up. Our team kind of functions as a tip of the sphere kind of looking at kind of where do we want to focus, where do we want to be next with our journey as a company building out, proving out those channels, and then kind of moving onto the next one, so it's a pretty exciting role that I took on here, and it's been a fun four years.

DY: Also, and I believe this was your first kind of introduction to the SaaS industry, working for Expensify. What excites you about ecosystems and about SaaS?

T.J: Everything, right? Before Expensify, before I got into this, actually, my background's in accounting and I worked as a financial planner for a large database analytics company called Teradata. I was doing rev rec and budgeting on these large $10 million, $50 million capex intensive software and hardware deals. Even then, early in my career, I kind of realized this is an odd way to sell and distribute hardware but especially software, right? I moved to San Francisco and gravitated towards Expensify and SaaS platforms that I worked with. I knew immediately that this is the right thing to do. Actually, four years on I saw an article on Teradata. They're now switching their entire stack and pricing models to be bundled into SaaS, to be baked into these huge enterprise deals. Everybody's getting there. I think small business, accounting solutions, and ecosystems revolve around it. We're one of the first members, but it's kind of the future. That's really the reason, right? It just made sense when I figured it out, right?

NH: Yeah. I think you've touched on this idea of democratizing tools and technology for everybody the same way that the iPhone almost set the standard for design and user-friendliness. It ships without a user manual. Yet if you go back only 10 years in business software, you couldn't even write the user manual. It had to be so long, software was incredibly painful to use, and it was expensive to buy and to implement, therefore it was only really available to large organizations. They needed large organization sounding names like Teradata. Megabit, extra large. The business was advertised with stock photos of people in collared shirts have very important meetings around Whiteboards.

T.J: So many stock photos.

NH: So many stock photos. The reality of them is that business is fun, right? People have been trading since the dawn of time and that was in my mind, it didn't match up with the actual experience of being in business and the fun of being in business. I think I love your tagline because it speaks in a language that people understand. I think that your product has democratized the process which historically has been painful to most people. I think certainly with Xero's goal to sort of that beautiful business is the same as well. Had you used the product before you joined the team?

T.J: No, I had not used Expensify before I joined. I never actually did many expense reports before it. I think that's not uncommon for people that join Expensify. There's not a lot of people admittedly ... I love what we're doing and everything, but I can't sit here and say that, "Gosh ..." like with a burning passion, "... expense reports are my dream." I think about them day and night. It's just not the truth. I think that's not necessarily the truth for most people. Some are bit addicted to it, right? But it's a pain point that we want to solve for people. It's something that we can lift off people, a burden that we can take away. But the end goal, I think, of Expensify and where we're headed isn't just automating this process, right? It's kind of being a value add beyond it for people. We like to joke that right now we're kind of your favorite app in your phone that you should never use. Everything is just automated behind the scenes, but I think moving forward we're starting to figure out ways that we can now take that and promote or provide features that are exciting to use, that do make you excited about expense reports. I think we're kind of at a turning point where people might get excited about expense reports.

NH: We used to say at Vend, we would do our job well when we would remove ourselves from the equation altogether, right? Actually, you're right. People don't want to think about expense reports. You've kind of reached the peak of product development when it's almost like that you don't have to think about them.

T.J: Yup, absolutely.

NH: Having said that, that I do love scanning my receipts with Expensify. It's almost like a consumer product, and I'm using it multiple times a day, especially when I'm traveling. I think I'm a bit OCD about it. I'm at the till, photographing it in front of the cash register. Even today when it seems like such an obvious thing, I still get looks from shopkeepers and they're like, "What are you doing there? Why is he not putting that in his pocket?" I just throw it back at them. "Here you go. Thanks."

T.J: That is the one time that we will get very excited, whether it's an airport or at a Starbucks or somewhere that I catch somebody using Expensify, that gives me great joy. Because that's the truth, right? We're just like take it when you get it, throw the receipt away. You don't need that anymore, right? That does bring a little bit of joy.

DY: Yeah. It's always amazing seeing businesses and consumers use your product. I love that. Getting back to your point about making it just easy for people to do business, that's kind of what attracted me to working in sort of platform ecosystems and SaaS. Actually, Xero in general is like this product and this group of apps in this ecosystem give business owners the opportunity to do what they got into business before in the first place, do what they love. If they can love using these apps on the way, then it's awesome as well, right?

NH: I wonder if you could tell us a bit about the product journey of Expensify. Had you always connected in with third party systems? Or was it a point in the journey when you decided actually to take the business to the next level or to take the customer solution to the next level, you wanted to work with some of the other platforms in the industry?

T.J: Yeah. I think we even forget ourselves that Expensify has been around for 10 years. We celebrated our 10th year anniversary I think at the beginning of this year. The app was released basically when the App Store became available as well as the iPhone was released and smartphone cameras became capable of taking quality pictures beyond three or four pixels that we could read a receipt with. We've been around for a long time. The first five or so years of that was really just focusing on that core technology and kind of the underpinnings of how a user was going to take receipts, travel confirmations, what have you, get them to our system and store them. Then as we discovered and through this journey, we discovered that people were coming to us and saying, "Hey, that's great. But we need to do something with this data. Number one, throw it into an accounting system." That's kind of got the wheels turning was really the first integration point that we locked in on was okay, how do we export all of this relevant information? Also, where does that need to go? Also, who are the partners that are best for this? Because, I mean, if you think about a fractured ecosystem, or not ecosystem I should say, a fractured landscape, it's a small business or just accounting systems in general, all over the place, there's tons of them.

T.J: That's where really zeroed us in on a couple of key integrations. Number one, what we thought of, what we thought these needed were one, they need to be cloud based, have clean APIs, and have some type of partner program that we could promote and benefit from besides just these initial customers that we're asking, right? That was about four or five years ago when we linked up with Xero and a couple of other accounting systems and kind of launched what is really the core business model for Expensify today which is small business, mid market customers that need to integrate their expense management into their accounting system. Since then, that's really been the track that we've been on. We've been plugging away at it. I think where we're going, we really perfected it. I think where we're going is now turning around and going back to the individual user and thinking about what more can we do for them. We really perfected this model for the companies, how can we turn it back and benefit the users more.

NH: One of the questions we get a lot, and so you're in partnerships and business development, you've been working SaaS for a few years, when your brand becomes well known with your industry, the number of opportunities just starts to skyrocket, right? You could spend multiple engineering cycles, multiple business development cycles working with an almost limitless range of partners. I guess how do you prioritize that backlog? What are some of the things that you typically look for in terms of those business development opportunities?

T.J: Yeah. It's not easy. That's really kind of a core part of our job is weeding out kind of noise to find the signals right, to find those paths we're going for. I'd say number one, where we start, whether it's working with accounting platforms, HR platforms, receipt partners, listening to customers, that is probably the core point of where everything else builds of off into that point when somebody else reaches out to us trying to get them onto our platform, I always go back to our customer success team, our account management team and have you guys heard of these guys? Has anybody asked for them? Does the market exist? That's number one.

T.J: Number two, in these really varying degrees of how we come to a decision, but number two would probably be is there a market that we're not in, right? Xero was a big one for us there. We knew that we wanted to expand it to Australia and New Zealand, UK, the rest of Europe. We see you guys not only as growing in North America but kind of being a partner that we could build a foothold in in those territories. That was a big emphasis as well and something we look for other partners is how can you benefit us, because it's mutual, right? Most partners are reaching out, trying to figure out a way to access our customers, making integration work that they can promote and use our name. To your point , when you become gold standard in the industry, you got to figure out how's this going to be a two way street, how can we both benefit from it. You guys is a perfect example where we both benefited greatly from that.

T.J: Another one would be with HR partnerships. HR and payroll companies, we got a lot of requests. People have to do approval workflows and set those things up in expense flows, like how can we automate this. That initially came from the voice of the customer, and then we found some mutual partners that played in the same space that we saw we could get wins with was Gusto and Zenefits and a couple others we were thinking of we could gravitate onto those platforms and build with them.

DY: Cool. Totally. Excuse me. You mentioned there a lot of partners and things. I would spend some time here in March, and we got a few partners together, and obviously you were one of them. One of the things I was really impressed with was your kind of giving the other partners in the room advice on how to really succeed and succeed as a product on our platform and things. We was promoting our partner program. I guess how important do you think it is to innovate as an ecosystem innovating together?

T.J: Yeah, I think it's hugely important. That's probably be a third one is what kind of partner program and successes has a partner that's coming to you that you're looking at had with other people, whether they're competitors or in a relevant space or just something that you've seen work successfully. I think the biggest thing sometimes, and you probably go through this or Nick, whoever lays out the partner, I'll call them requirements, I think we spin those and we try to look at them as opportunities. Seeking out customers for reviews and things like that to share among the ecosystem. That's fantastic, right? That gives us a goal that we can then take those and we use those internally to turn around and market to our customers. You basically had done our case studies for us because when a Xero customer reaches out and wanted to have a case study, we just throw 200 five star reviews at them and ask them if they need to see anything else. I think that's a big way to kind of turn those around when you see your partner programs like, "Oh my gosh. How am I going to make a dent in here?" Don't just view those kind of benchmarks as requirements but as opportunities.

NH: Obviously, since you started working with accounting platforms, you've shown accountants as a successful channel for yourselves. A lot of our partners in our ecosystem, some are very good at working with accountants as a channel. Obviously, Xero's history is about actually enabling accountants to bring clients onto Xero and a very successful go-to market for us. But not everybody's been so successful at working with accountants. In fact, I think if you go 10 years back and said, "Accountants could be a sales channel in which people would have laughed you out of the room," and yeah, that's been demonstrated to be the case. What have you learned from that and what advice could you share for perhaps other startup business or partners of Xero's who are looking to work with accountants? What kind of tips would you offer?

T.J: Yeah, absolutely. Let's see. It's tough, right? It's a major investment as I'm sure you all know and Xero knows as well. That's number one. You really have to be willing to invest time and money to get the accountant channel off the ground. That's kind of the disclaimer. There's no easy tips or tricks, but when we think about the accountants channel, we think about we use an analogy internally we call fracking, kind of drilling down that hardened shale rock to turn something into oil. It's not the easiest way to go, but once you're there, it can really turn on like a faucet. When we're looking at the accountant's channel and figuring out how we wanted to tap into it. We were looking at who are these accountants listening to, where are they getting their information, and how can we work with them. That's both from platforms that really evangelize the accountants channels here, or you guys do an incredible job with that so just position ourselves as being Xero friendly and tying in a partner program that fits well with yours, and then also seeking out kind of the thought leaders in the industry, finding out who those accountants are that accountants go to for advice and collaborating with them not just on a marketing level. We would rarely start there. We would typically start at the product level, exposing them to our product, having them tinker through it, find the faults, and give us legitimate feedback.

T.J: We rarely, if ever, went into a partnership where we sign anything or did any marketing until that thought leader or accountant or group understood what Expensify was and ideally was using it themselves, so that was a core principle that we stick to is that if anybody's evangelizing our product, they better be using it as well because it's not going to work otherwise. I guess thinking further with the accountants, that was a key that came on later is we'd go out and educate these accountants. Things wouldn't really stick. We'd be throwing all these materials at them, and then we'd realize, "Oh, they probably need to be using Expensify internally." That's how it's going to stick. I think you all do a pretty good job at that as well, like getting them on Xero HQ, getting them on to working with their clients directly in Xero. That's probably what makes things click more than any other training materials or marketing or anything that you could utilize.

NH: Yeah. I think it's a long term investment. As you've pointed out, there's no silver bullet.

T.J: No.

NH: There's no silver bullet in business anyway. I have not seen one. If anyone's found one, please email it api@xero.com.

DY: Good plug.

NH: But I think it's easier to forget in SaaS that it's a long term game, because we operate in two week sprints and investment raising cycles. It's like you're going to be the market leader in two years, then what? What happens after that? It's a marathon, not a sprint. Especially in an environment where everybody's doing content marketing, everybody's spending on ad words, everybody's trying to sort of scramble to the top of the pile. As a software business, it's the longer term investments that actually pay off in the long term that they're really important and to differentiate you. We always encourage our partners to think about the partnership like a product. Invest in it, think about how it benefits the customer, and make sure that you resource it like you would your product, and the same with a channel like accounting. You can't just one and done it and hope that it skyrockets within three months. It's a long term play. They've taken years to build up trust with their customers. They don't switch solutions easily and often and therefore you have to build that trust and rapport. Then over time that channel will start to return for you. I think on that point, because they've done a really great job of building your brand in the accountant community and funny ways to engage them, some pretty special ways as it turns out. Maybe now's a good time to talk about-

DY: Yeah, I was about to say, "Well, you'd know, Nick, wouldn't you?" Let me just go back a little bit and say that Xero are also are quite keen and very passionate about their brand, passionate about accountants and bookkeepers as well. For many years now we've been running our own conference as well. Think it started 200, 300 people, not it's 3,000 people attending which is really, really neat and quite overwhelming when you go. But Expensify do some boutique events of their own in some amazing locations such as Maui and as Nick knows now, Bora Bora, spend some time there.

NH: Which is entirely to you.

DY: Just saying. But yeah, I'm keen to understand what the genesis of that was and how the hell Nick got an invite.

T.J: Oh yeah, absolutely.

NH: It's getting hot in here, isn't it, Dan?

DY: Oh yeah.

T.J: It's a bit tropical in here, yeah. It's nice. ExpensiCon, yes. ExpensiCon grew out of, well, first off what is it, right? It's exclusive invite only executive partner treat for our top technology partners, accounting partners, customers and the like. Yes, the first one in 2016 we did in Maui. The second one this April was it, Nick?

NH: I believe it was, yes.

T.J: I was in Bora Bora, Tahiti which if you pull out a map is in the middle of nowhere in a Pacific island or in the Pacific Ocean I should say. We're the genesis for this, right? We just don't spend a ton of money and bring a bunch of people to a deserted island for no reason, right? It really, first off, grew out of our internal ideals about working together and collaborating in person. As a company, we get together, the entire company, all 130 of us now about three or four times a year, the biggest one being our offshore trip where we basically take the company abroad for a month and work and collaborate together in a foreign country.

T.J: Maybe we can come back to that when I can give a little bit of that later, but we kind of took that idea of collaborating in person. We also looked at what we thought was missing from the conferences that we're going to, both in the ... Sorry. Both in the content and also the collaboration. The things that we thought was most missing I would say was the collaboration piece, right? Yes, your peers are there in a large conference that might have a thousand people there, but you have to seek those people out, the ones that you truly want to talk with. You have to find the time as well which can be difficult when you're running around, especially if you're trying to get CPE credits or attend specific sessions or things like that.

T.J: That was another core piece that we wanted a place, an environment, where people could really collaborate, whether they're talking about Expensify or whether they're talking about other technologies or whether they're just talking about best practices for the cloud accounting firm. That's really where Expensify grew around was trying to create that culture of a conference. Then we gave it the Expensify spin which if we're going to do it, we're going to do it right, and we're going to do it the loudest and biggest and boldest that anybody can, right? That's where it came to be. It's going to be intimate. It's going to be small. We're going to bring our most successful partners and the most successful people that we see, that we view in the industry. We're going to bring them together in a kind of a more exclusive environment.

DY: I think that's fantastic. I don't know if you know this, TJ, but the reason I have reached out to you for the podcast was to try and get an invite for the next one. I might look forward to that coming from the man.

NH: Yeah. I just want to thank again the team for organizing. If any of the team happen to be listening, again, David and so forth. We'd love to be back again for the next event. But on a serious note-

T.J: Location recommendations are welcome. If you can top Bora Bora, we're interested.

NH: I think everybody agreed that the moon, it was the only place that you could possibly go next to top Bora Bora. But just the level of detail that went into the event was exceptional. I think Lindsay had to worked incredibly-

T.J: Right, Lindsay on our team. Incredible.

NH: Amazing. She started off on the UK as well, wasn't she?

T.J: Right. She's basically in the UK the whole time.

NH: The opposite time zone to everybody else. But just the smallest details were incredibly thought out and really well put together. To do it all on an island which is incredibly difficult to get to, I think it was a really amazing experience. I think you really hit the point. It's like people go to many conference, right? There's thousands of people. You seek great content but the it's hard to connect and engage with people. It's a bit overwhelming. I really enjoyed having a Q and A with Travis, the founder of Uber, then the next day the first CEO of NetSuite, but really-

T.J: Zach Nelson.

NH: Zach Nelson.

T.J: Yeah, that was amazing.

NH: Yeah, just really opened dialogue about his journey 20 years ago and realizing what cloud could do to change the game and how we got involved with him. Not only do you see that kind of intimate Q and A in a room with 80 or 90 people, then you just bump into him for a beer or rum-based cocktail an hour two later and have a chat.

T.J: Absolutely.

NH: That was a really special opportunity there. I think you really did set the bar quite high.

DY: I love what you're saying as well, TJ, on sometimes slightly smaller events can be really gold because you actually get to have those conversations that you really want to have, in particular, your customer is good to engage with you, get face to face time with you, and that sort of some of the events that we're running, with our developer roadshow for example, worked great for that, right? Get 50 to 100 people and you can actually spend time with them which is really, really valuable.

NH: So much of your time in SaaS is remote, isn't it? In the early days when I was former role at Vend we were creating point of sale software, but we were selling to customers all over the world. We couldn't have a face to face relationship with those customers, so we looked for the little hacks that we can put in place to make them feel like they had a personal connection with us. We used help desk software that we could put our profile photo on it. Then we moved to intercom and then you have a message, a chat pop up. It would make videos of us in the office so people could see that we're human and we weren't just a couple of guys in a garage tinkering away. I think that you can do a lot of that remotely, but sometimes you need to actually be there in person. That's what's great about small events is you actually had that time to kind of interact and catch up. The same applies for a company as well. You talked a little bit before about the company culture at Expensify, your off sites where you take a whole team to a location. Tell us a little bit about the culture at Expensify. Are you a fully distributed team?

T.J: Yes and no. We have employees and workers, world over, right? Since we launched with Xero, going back to that, we actually did end up opening up offices in Melbourne down in Australia, in London, the UK, we have people in Europe, APAC, all over, right? Then we also have two main dual headquarters I'll say. There's always a debate for which is which in San Francisco. Only a couple blocks away in financial district and then also up in Portland. We already rehabbed this beautiful little bank building and created our living or working space up there.

T.J: The company culture, it's something that we really hold dear. We've actually threw some kind of internal dialogue and talking through. Tried actually in the last couple of minutes to submit almost like a mission statement or a slogan too, our company culture and how we want to project it outwardly because we do have this, but it's hard to put into words, so we have or we took a stab at it. Right now it's get rich, have fun, and save the world. You wouldn't think of that from an expense reporting company, kind of some bold claims. But that's kind of what we're after, right? We want to build something that doesn't just allow other people to get some time back in their life, but something that we can value and kind of build ourselves around. Those are kind of the core tenets.

T.J: One of the best ways that we kind of live this out is our offshore and onshore, which we just got wrapped up trips. What these are is week two, three week now, events where we all go to one country or one city in the US or around the world, and we basically have very intense weeks long working sessions where we can collaborate cross team on different product initiatives. These in the past have been used to move huge projects forward. The biggest one when I first started that I can grasp onto is when we really got to the point of automating the expense process from smart scan to the accounting system. At that time we called it real time expense reporting. Now we just call it expensive hikes, because that's what it is.

T.J: We basically got together in multiple cities throughout Portugal as we moved through the country building this thing. It's exciting when you have engineering, and the integrations team, and the marketing, and business development all in the same room, and you just dialogue right there without having to worry about timezones or meetings or anything like that. It's quite exceptional and fairly unique.

DY: With pretty much everyone on the company being in the same location, I'm sure there's some shenanigans that people get up to. I'm just curious to understand what's the craziest thing that you've all done as a team?

T.J: Oh gosh. Every time we go on an offshore, our people team who are saints I should say, truly amazing, come up with something that they call fancy dinner for us, right? One, kind of typically is near the end of the trip. Probably the craziest one that they put together for us in my book, there'd be other arguments, is when we were in Cambodia. This was two years ago. We were staying outside of Ankor Wat in Siem Reap, and they got us all in buses. They told us nothing about where we'd be going. They drove us around in what I think were circles for two hours before we arrived at this immaculately lit ancient Ankor Wat temple where we dined and entertained for hours. It was lavish as the SF Chronicle or one of the newspapers actually wrote up about the whole thing which became a running internal joke of basically any Slack channel. If somebody says something too outrageous, have some champagne problems, just a little hashtag lavish will be thrown in there too, make sure everybody calms down.

NH: Pretty outrageous. I mean, I think last Thursday, didn't we have three coffees instead of two coffees?

DY: It was outrageous.

NH: Outrageous, but that's how we roll too.

DY: Exactly. I think it's awesome. I mean, with SaaS companies, there's always kind of this hyper growth thing to deal with. You mentioned people being kind of in locations all around the world. It's really tough, even in Xero with 2,000 employees to keep the culture really good. I'm not sure how Amazon do it with 600,000 employees, but we do something similar to you guys. We get people over from the product team to Wellington HQ every year or two and have a series of talks and off sites and things like that. It's just amazing to press the flesh with your other stuff.

T.J: I'd say probably the biggest if I think of personally my biggest benefits and what I see with our team as well is that having those cross department, cross team relationships, that you build outside of the work hours or during off or something, pays dividends and just making everyone accessible across the organization. If someone in the marketing team has a question about integration that's being deployed, the person working on it is remote based in France or something like that. They'll feel totally comfortable Slacking or getting our call with that engineer to talk through what's going on. There's no distance between those people because they've enjoyed a drink in Uruguay or maybe some coffee in Cambodia.

NH: It forgives a lot of future friction, doesn't it?

T.J: Yes, absolutely.

NH: If you've got that common bond. One of the special things about Xero is when you have the opportunity to visit the other offices as we're doing now, it's like you're walking into the same world on the other side of the world. I remember going to our office in Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes, for those people that don't know it, is kind of like a town planner in the 1950s who watched too many Stanley Kubrick movies and then created a city filled with roundabouts. But you walk into the Xero office and then it's just like the office in Wellington, the brand, the culture, the people, walking around in T-shirts and playing pool. That's a really special thing. The other thing that I find remarkable is because we have a lot of time in Google Hangouts or on video chats and whatever system you guys use, I'm sure that you spent half your day staring at a video screen as well. The thing that always surprises me when I see someone in person is the height.

T.J: Oh right.

NH: It throws me every time. I make these assumptions about how tall somebody is or how short they are. I'm always completely surprised. I'm going to throw this out to the developer community. Here's an idea, one for free. Somebody can make a plug in for Google Hangouts that measure's your height and adjusts the camera angle to make you look taller or shorter depending on the height of the person you're talking to, so it's not surprising. I don't even know if such a thing is possible. I'd just love to see that.

DY: That would be a great integration. It's interesting, you mentioned the height thing. When I was in San Francisco last year for the roadshow, I met somebody who shall remain nameless, but I met somebody. The first thing that I said was, "Ah, I expected you to be taller." Thanks a lot. Awesome. Okay. Cool. Thanks, TJ. What does success look like for you and for Expensify?

T.J: Similarly, I think that's where we're at a point where we're starting to have that conversation over a lot. For the last three or four years, success has really been for us getting in and owning that accountants channel that we talked about, building out a robust product that's built for companies of basically all sizes. I don't want to sound overconfident. We're on that trajectory. These things are all super positive. In reality, we've kind of had that conversation of like, "Okay. What's next? What do we want to do?" I truly think and actually I think going back to ExpensiCon, Zach Nelson from NetSuite, you spoke to him. I think going very macro, we're seeing this now as that I think there's a lot of maturing going on in the SaaS space today that the cloud platforms that exist, something will come to disrupt Xero or Salesforce or Expensify inevitably. It's probably not going to be another Salesforce or Xero or Expensify.

T.J: Potentially, I shouldn't discount it, but probably some new technology we have that's going to come in. For us, we try to think of how we can take Expensify and do something different with it. I think that's where we start to focus on how can we further benefit individuals and kind of taking that expense tool to the next level. We have throngs of data that we collect about different use cases and users and how can we turn that back to individuals or companies and benefit them more, whether that's tracking, different spend, so that admins can allocate where they're putting the resources or noticing that somebody really likes to go to Starbucks or Applebee's when they land on their trip, prompt them that one's nearby or in that airport, if the want to go and check that right there. Those are the kind of ideas that we're thinking about.

T.J: The other one, we've been around for a long time and we really are on that kind of slow growth train ourselves. We want to be at our own speed so that we can keep enjoying and having fun and figuring out some way to save the world. If you have any ideas, let me know. We're still working on that one, open to suggestions. But that's the other one. We want to figure out a way to grow at our own speed and to continue doing that, to kind of be the masters of our own domain. That's another one that we're really focused on.

NH: I'm often surprised. I think people are when they find out Expensify is ... How many people? 130?

T.J: About 130 employees worldwide, yeah.

NH: I think that your brand is so strong the product is so strong. The size of the community around you, I think you guys really do a great job of punching above your weight in business which is five times the size at least. We're really proud to have you guys as a partner, always love to have a discussion, and I think there's a really close alignment between both our product sets and our cultures as well.

DY: Absolutely, and with that, it's been a pleasure having you on the show, TJ. Thank you very much for joining us. Now for all of you listening, if you want to know more about Expensify, head on over to expensify.com, and similarly if you want to find out more about the Xero Developer Program, head on over to developer.xero.com. Both Expensify and Xero are active on the Twitters and other social platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. Let us know if there are any specific topics you'd love to hear from us in the future, use the hashtag #askXeroAPI.

T.J: Nice.

DY: Thank you. So from all of us here in San Francisco, thanks for listening.

NH: California.

DY: California. Thanks for listening. Tune in for more shenanigans in the next developer podcast.

NH: Thanks again, TJ.

T.J: Thanks guys. This was fun.

NH: Great. Good night.

Read more>

You may also like