2017 Year in Review — Paystack
As the Paystack team looks forward to 2018, here’s a look back at both the highs and lows of 2017!
What went well in 2017
2017 was Paystack’s second full year of existence, and the year when many long months of hardwork started to snowball into big wins.
GROWTH & SCALE
We began the year with about 1,400 merchants and closed with over 7,700 live merchants accepting payments with Paystack
This time last year, we were doing ~200 million Naira (~$550,000) in monthly transaction value. In July 2017, we announced a milestone that meant a lot to us — doing our first 1 billion Naira (~$3 million) in monthly transaction value.
Four months later, we doubled that to hit ~2 billion Naira in monthly transaction value.
We’re closing 2017 with ~2.7 billion Naira (~$7.5 million) in monthly transaction value (these numbers are strictly the amount of money that customers paid to merchants — it does not include amounts processed as a result of transfers).
Another way to look at growth: this time last year, Paystack was doing between 2 million to 2.6 million API calls per month. Today, it’s between 35 million to 44 million API calls per month.
We improved the product in numerous important ways. Here’re some of the important ones:
We launched Paystack Transfers, a feature that allows Paystack merchants to store their revenue inside Paystack as a balance, and then use that store of value to transfer money to any Nigerian bank account.
We launched Paystack Invoices (previously called Payment Requests), which allows merchants to request payments from specific customers.
We launched Pay with Bank, which allows customers to pay Paystack merchants directly from their bank account.
We refreshed the Paystack Dashboard with detailed Success Rate and Error Rate data.
We also turned our internal tool — Watchtower — into a second product for our banking partners.
TEAM & COMMUNITY
In 2017 we invested significantly in the team, growing from 10 people at the beginning of the year, to 25 people at the close of the year.
To house the larger team, we moved into a new office. The Techpoint team were kind enough to do a photo and video tour of the space.
We were lucky to be one of 6 African startups invited to join the Google Launchpad Accelerator! Launchpad is a six-month acceleration program for promising startups from emerging markets.
The program began with a two-week, all-expense-paid program in the Launchpad space in San Francisco, followed by many months of individual mentoring.
We organized our first community event, the Y Combinator Lagos Meetup, where anyone considering applying to YC was able to come get application advice from 9 Nigerian and Ghanaian YC alumni companies. Check out the entire photo album here.
In the lead-up to the event, Shola (our CEO), shared Paystack’s entire Y Combinator application, complete with commentary and backstory.
Over 250 friends, both old and new, joined us for the event, including 3 tech startups from Ghana.
We also hosted a breakfast event with the Women of Paystack, where 50 women curious about career opportunities in tech learned about the different pathways they could take into the industry. See the photo album from the event here.
Finally, we celebrated the first wedding of a teammate!
What we wrestled with in 2017
2017 wasn’t all smooth sailing, and almost all of the challenges we wrestled with were related in one way or another to growing so fast, so quickly. As the the product grew in size and complexity, it became harder to keep up with bugs and feature requests.
At the lowest point, we were an average of two days behind our support inbox. This kicked off an intense investment in our Customer Success team. We grew our support team from 2 person to 7 people, invested in tools like our new self-serve Help Desk, and streamlined internal processes to be able to provide support faster (and ensure that some things never emerged as issues in the first place). These efforts paid off in a big way — we’ve reduced first response time to only a few hours — but there’s a lot more to do to give our merchants the best possible support experience possible.
We also had to learn how to hire. In the first few years of the company, we could rely on close friends to hop on board, but the downside to that was that we entered 2017 with too little structure around our hiring process.
Exactly what questions should you ask during the in-person interview? Should we do phone screenings? What does a fair compensation and benefits package look like? Who should lead which parts of our new onboarding process?
These were all questions we wrestled with, and while we’re still far from perfect, we’re going into 2018 a lot better equipped to find incredible people, and equip them with everything they need to succeed at Paystack.
Reflections from the team
Paystack is nothing without our team. Some of them have penned their personal end of year reviews, so here’s what 2017 looked like in their own words (will update as more people publish theirs).
Onaopemipo Aikomo — To the best year ever
Ik Obi — (Twitter thread) “One of the things I finally started to understand this year was how to live life small small…”
Yinka Adewuyi — 2017 in retrospect: The year of healing and growth
Emmanuel Quartey — Notes from my recruitment experience with Paystack
Khadijah Abu — 2017
🌻 Flourish — Paystack 2017 End of Year Playlist
We use the messaging tool Slack at Paystack for internal communications. There’s a music channel where members of the team share what they’re jamming to —the channel is almost like a time capsule of how people were feeling all throughout the year.
Paystack shouldn’t exist.
Two geeks with no institutional backing and no formal financial training had no business sticking their nose into fintech. And yet here we are, two years later, held up quite literally by thousands of hands.
As we venture into Paystack’s third year, we want to say thank you. Thank you to investors who took a chance on us when they had little reason to. Thank you to Paystackers who chose Paystack when they could be working anywhere. Thank you to numerous partners and advocates who’ve held doors open for us with the right introduction at the right time. Thank you to every feature request and every reminder to do better.
And most of all, thank you to the over 7,700 Nigerian merchants who’ve entrusted us with your business. You give us purpose, and in 2018, we aim to go above and beyond to reward you everyday for your confidence in us.