Altering the way money moves is an ambitious mission, but DailyPay is committed to changing pay for good.
For employees at this fast-growing fintech startup, focusing on the everyday benefits their on-demand pay platform provides to workers is essential. In addition to affirming the importance of the company’s greater mission — to create a more equitable financial system — staying connected to individual users allows team members to see the full impact of their efforts firsthand. This, in turn, motivates them to continually look for ways to improve and innovate their service.
Patricia Torvalds, software engineer, has learned plenty about the inequity of payroll processes since joining DailyPay a year and a half ago, including the fact that many workers are forced to turn to payday loans or pay an overdraft fee to take care of a bill even though they have actually earned the money to pay it.
“The fact that earned-wage access is not an industry standard calls into question the underpinnings of our financial system,” Torvalds said. “In a rapidly shifting economy, people need access to their money as they earn it, rather than loaning it to their employer for two weeks.”
That’s why, first and foremost, she believes in DailyPay’s mission. “Financially marginalized people are further disadvantaged by the status quo,” she said. “DailyPay helps us step back and reevaluate how things could be better.”
With the company’s software, employees can control when they get paid. Building application programming interfaces (APIs) that keep the platform moving seamlessly, Torvalds works across products on both partner- and employee-facing sides of the company. Collaborating with various teams to do so has made it clear to Torvalds that improving people’s lives is the common interest uniting her colleagues.
“It’s not a ‘move fast and break things’ environment but one respectful of our customers and their needs,” she said. “I’m able to work thoughtfully through problems with the gravity that they deserve.”
Torvalds often collaborates directly with senior data analyst Binh Hoang, such as in the recent case of a new product launch built jointly with a major payroll provider, which has opened a new revenue stream for DailyPay amid holistic company growth. Overseen by Chris Kauffman, DailyPay’s director of product management, the pair joined forces to support the company’s New Markets division, an area of the business that exemplifies the company’s ambitious upward trajectory. The team was tasked with tackling various systems integrations, research, analysis and development to support the New Markets growth.
Below, Torvalds, Hoang and Kauffman discuss the specifics of their cross-functional collaboration, professional development opportunities at DailyPay, and what it’s like to work in a hyper-growth environment.
In New Markets, you support the development and rollout of new major product initiatives. How does collaboration take place there, especially given all departments involved?
Director of Product Management Chris Kauffman: In New Markets, we adapt DailyPay to new business models, which involves changing technology and processes. There’s no way to get that done without cross-functional work. We know at a high level what we have to do: connect a payroll partner and their business processes to process flows and technical flows. Binh has helped us adapt the data. Patricia has done a lot of work on the product team with building, researching and helping us understand the way DailyPay works, so that we can adapt it.
Software Engineer Patricia Torvalds: Building APIs, my work touches a wide breadth of our codebase, including legacy code. I’m also creating visibility through monitoring. I feel lucky to work with everyone from principal engineers — on specific, technical deep dives into new concepts — to core business team members — on strategy around how we build new APIs while working with existing products.
Senior Data Analyst Binh Hoang: For this large payroll provider we’re working with, one of the very first things that you want to know — once their product is launched or is piloting — is how it’s doing. What are the metrics? Is it performing up to expectations? I work closely with API-team engineers like Patricia to make sure I understand how data is laid out in our database for this product. I cannot start analyzing data until I understand it. I work with Chris to know which metrics he needs, as a product manager, to understand the performance of this new product.
What are some unique challenges you have had to navigate when launching this new product for the aforementioned large payroll provider?
Torvalds: It was exciting to work on a startup-within-a-startup product with a strategic partner, because we had this minimum viable product (MVP) we had to get out, that met the needs of both companies and satisfied early adopter customers. Working closely with teammates to solve big problems for a major company, we also had freedom and flexibility to get creative, iterate quickly and deliver. And transfers are happening; people are responding to this product. It speaks to the teamwork here that everyone jumped in and worked quickly to push that out.
Hoang: Every new product has different nuances to how it’s set up, which informs how its data appears. I spend time with Chris and ask questions to Patricia’s team to understand how this product functions and how it’s different from our existing product.
Kauffman: DailyPay is a recognized leader in our space and we are continually learning and expanding our insight into how to successfully support our partners. For example, our API team has allowed us to work with this payroll provider, their systems and their rules. We’re building trust with this large company to show that we are experts in our area. To make their program as successful as possible, they need to rely on us.
How does working at a “hyper-growth” company like DailyPay affect production timelines and company culture?
Hoang: When I joined, I was the third person on the data team. We’re now a significantly larger team, and I’ve only been here for a year and a half. DailyPay is still small enough, though, that I can make outsized contributions to the culture, despite not being a manager myself. With other people on the data team, I’ve developed our data team’s core principles. DailyPay itself has eight specific company values, and we wanted to also create principles specific to the data team. We developed them late last year; even as the data team grows, we have these principles to help guide us. Every Friday, we have data-team shout-outs, where we recognize our teammates for their positive contributions and the principles they share.
Kauffman:. Baked into the DNA at DailyPay is teamwork. The culture places a premium on collaboration and innovation –– even through our hyper-growth stage.
Torvalds: I feel lucky, early in my career, to mentor peers and work with people who’ve just joined the company, in the spirit of hyper-growth. People here are also very generous with their time, so I frequently work with our most senior and longest-tenured engineers. Having that mentorship has been invaluable. Building the company as we go, you see that momentum reflected in how excited people are about the product we’re building.
Patricia and Binh, you’ve both been promoted in your year-and-half tenures at DailyPay. How did leadership support your professional development?
Torvalds: I started my career at DailyPay as a junior software engineer. When I was promoted, I felt it validated my hard work and success on the team. In terms of developing soft skills, my team does monthly “Brag Docs” to record accomplishments or tasks we’ve completed. That’s a great way to keep track of progress, not only to make sure you’re progressing toward career goals but to make sure you’re constantly learning. New engineers are always joining, which creates opportunities for mentorship. As we partner with larger providers, working within small teams on big initiatives enables professional development and growth for our engineers.
Hoang: I was promoted from data analyst to senior data analyst. I was a humanities major in college then worked in finance. I did a data science bootcamp, which is how I learned the skills, but I came into DailyPay green. I had basic SQL skills but had never applied data at this level before. I didn’t come in with much Tableau knowledge; today, in our all-teams R&D meeting, I got to show off a Tableau dashboard. I’ve come a long way because of the people around me.
DailyPay is still a growing company, so I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with senior leaders including David Dyar, our SVP of engineering; Konstantin Getmanchuk, our SVP of product; and Darren Cho, head of the New Markets initiative. They have helped me understand how to be a great manager and what is required to get to their level, as that’s a long-term goal of mine. I never feel out of sync with senior leadership, because of how much time they give to me.
Torvalds: Building off that, I appreciate opportunities for ownership. I’ve taken on huge projects and carried them to the finish line. That’s rare in a hyper-growth startup, to get to own major projects, though it’s invaluable for your career and technical learning. My mentors are principal developers here.