Eight floors above 13th and Sansom sits an office with a gorgeous conference room disguised as a lounge, huge monitors displaying code and an epic coffee setup that includes a Kyoto-style cold brew tower. There’s at least one dog roaming the office on any given day, and music like The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” plays in the background.
Perpay’s team has been hard at work recently, validating their product and building out their initial team. The fintech company, recently voted Philadelphia’s Best Technology Startup, takes the microlending concept that became popular in the nonprofit world and applies it to consumer spending. With Perpay, users don’t necessarily need to have a strong credit score to get financing for big purchases, like a new computer or a nice sofa. Instead, Perpay takes a holistic approach toward assessing an individual’s cash flow, then arranges a payment plan that fits their budget through the user’s direct deposit system. Payments are fully automated so there’s no need to remember to make payments.
Perpay prides itself on extracurriculars that bring the team together — think cage match chef battles at Alla Spina or spirits and strikes in Harp and Crown’s Elbow Lane. It’s a part of their determination to build a team that feels more like a family, where everyone has each other’s backs and celebrates together. Beyond the big events, employees often spend time together outside of work attending concerts, trying new restaurants, or playing on the company soccer team. They take the personal side seriously and value the relationships they build with one another.
In fact, relationships have been the key to building Perpay’s team; nearly every employee has joined via referrals or personal connections. Now, they’re looking to expand their network and bring on talented team members as they scale.
"You’re always looking for something that drives you, but something that helps the greater good was new to me. I wasn’t originally looking for that, but now I know the decisions I make on a day to day basis are helping people at scale. This product touches real peoples’ lives, everyday. It makes their lives better."Matt Nicosia Growth and Marketing
"The people are so special. I came in on day one and felt truly valued. Everyone’s voice is equal. There’s no pecking order. I appreciate how hyper collaborative it is."Noah Quinn Operations Specialist
"What drew me in was the mission. Everyone speaks passionately, it’s contagious. you get a taste right away of what it’s like having an impact on so many people."Amanda Case Operations
“There is so much to do and so many things we want to accomplish — it feels like we’re just getting started. We try to treat each day like it’s day one — there are infinite opportunities and each decision influences growth.”Nikos Petrides COO
"We’re constantly refining our product and responding to changes — what projects are on the horizon, what legwork needs to be done to keep things moving? You can be methodical about how you approach things; while the problems are different, the way you attack them can be consistent. It keeps you on track."Arik Misler CTO
“The right people are here because they want to be here. They want to learn and grow, and they can see opportunities to do so in this environment. That’s an exciting path — both individually and for the team as a whole.Molly Nolan Operations Manager
What’s unique about the Perpay brand?
Perpay’s mission is to help people better manage their financial situations. They do this by providing a financially healthy option for consumers to access products or engage in experiences that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them.
Perpay is solving broad issues of financial access and inclusion that affect a large number of people through the pathways of microlending, consumer finance, and e-commerce. Their focus is purely on their customers.
What is the team dynamic within the office?
At Perpay, they try to foster collaboration whenever possible, and do that by keeping their organizational structure flat and cross-disciplinary. Anyone can have a conversation or introduce an idea at any time, there are no silos.
Perpay also works to foster an entrepreneurial spirit at the individual level. At the end of the day, they’re a product-focused company, and like to say that everyone on team is a product owner. They’re building a tool that makes an impact on so many people, and believe the best way to do that is to get input from every one of their team members — from the ones who talk to their customers to the ones writing the code. Everyone’s perspective is important.
What qualities does Perpay look for in technical candidates?
While most of their systems and microservices are written in Python, they truly prefer talented polyglots that have an insatiable will to learn and create. At Perpay, they’re not afraid of trying new things and are more concerned with finding great problem solvers that will find the right tools for the job.
They’re most interested in a candidate’s mentality and experience — especially if it is one of delivering solutions that are well designed, reliable, and highly scalable. They work in a fast-paced startup environment where efficiency and iterative approaches are critical. This makes it extremely important to find candidates who communicate well and understand the theory, design patterns and implementation details that go into delivering a solution.
How about candidates overall?
They’re looking for people who are naturally curious, self-directed and interested in self-improvement. Everyone on the team is eager to learn, excited about what their working on and is doing their own research about the industry, like reading up on consumer credit and the greater microlending environment.
One thing they value about their team is diversity of experience. Perpay has built a team with all kinds of different backgrounds: finance, engineering, operations, non-profit... even chemistry.
Additionally, because of the work they do, candidates need to have a sense of empathy. A team member can be an amazing problem solver, but in order to be a good fit they need to keep a human element to everything they do. Data can certainly help find an answer, but empathy will often lead to deeper insights.
What is special about the office space itself:
The Perpay team found an empty warehouse space and completely designed it from scratch themselves. They sourced the materials, designed the layout, picked the desks, etc.
The aesthetic was inspired in part by the Navy Yard: brick walls, lots of metal, glass, lush plants, colorful rugs and cool lamps. It’s a really unique space: comfortable work areas, full of light, with unexpected textures and accents.
It really speaks to way Perpay approaches things as a company in general: they’d never designed an office before but that didn’t stop them from taking it on with enthusiasm.
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