Help each user personally. Sure that won't scale to a very large size, but when a startup is just starting out, it really helps you have an advantage as a small and nimble company.
Coming from Ireland, its quite hard to do a startup because youre culturally so far away from what everyone else is doing. In the Bay Area, its much easier. Its the equivalent of an actor or actress moving to Hollywood.
Stripe is building payment infrastructure for the Web, so we make it easy to accept credit cards online. Before Stripe, the way youd do this is using the legacy banking structure. It was slow, it was complex, it was expensive. It had this very chilling effect on e-commerce.
In the desktop world, you could build a successful business where a consumer only came back to you once or maybe twice a year. I don't think you can build that kind of business on mobile. You need higher frequency, or otherwise you fall off the home screen and the user never comes back.
Stripe really did come about because we were really appalled by how hard it was to charge for things online.
Our idea with starting Stripe was to build better payments technology for people building things on the web.
My brother and I were born in an Irish county called Tipperary. We were both very math- and science-inclined in high school. My dad trained as an electrical engineer, and my mom is in microbiology.
Auctomatic was a compressed start-up experience, going from start to launch to acquisition in under a year. We spent a long time building the product before getting our first customer, whereas with Stripe we made sure we had paying customers from the very start.
I think a lot of people learn to code messing around with things while in secondary school. And for me, it started up as a hobby and a plaything, and I just became more curious over time.
With Stripe, people who previously operated online or offline in a very limited capacity now have all the tools to work like a real online business. That's a very valuable thing.
When a country doesn't have a good economic infrastructure, that harms the country. With Stripe, the idea is that by providing better infrastructure, by linking the Internet economically, by making it easier for these online businesses to exist, it'll make the web better.
One of the really fascinating areas is marketplaces that take advantage of mobile devices. Ridesharing is the obvious example, but that's just the start of it, of selling goods and services with lightweight mobile apps.
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