Discover more from Cavan Klinsky
Stripe turns 10 today, so I figured I’d share my favorite personal Stripe story. It’s an experience that greatly impacted how I think about customer service (and growth) at Healthie. It was Jan 2013. I had recently turned 16, and was building my first product that I wanted to charge people for.
I’m not sure how I found Stripe (probably through a coding tutorial) but decided to use them to add subscriptions to the product. I was (to put it nicely) raw at programming, and had never built something like that. I got stuck for a few hours on adding coupon codes to the checkout. I thought I was experiencing a bug with Stripe and fired off a support email.
Shortly after, I realized that the issue was completely on my end, fixed it, and moved on, forgetting about my support ticket. Later that day, Stripe Support followed up to confirm I had gotten it resolved, and offered to send me a free t-shirt. A shirt? For free?! Sounds tiny now, but at the time I was over the moon.
I was a high-schooler. I hadn’t taken any payments through Stripe. I didn’t even have access in Stripe to run real credit cards, and they were going to mail clothing across the country to me. Sure enough, a few weeks later the shirt (along with stickers and a handwritten card) arrived.
Getting that shirt was one of the first times I felt like I could be a real part of the startup ecosystem. It felt like a badge of honor. I wore it in the airport the first time I went to SF. I wore it around Palo Alto the first time I went to Silicon Valley. I wore it for years and years until it gradually ended up full of holes and unwearable. It made me, an awkward teenager, feel like I belonged.
The product I was building didn’t work out, nor did the next few, but the admiration and respect I had for Stripe never went away. Three years later, when we started Healthie, it was never in doubt what payment processor we would use.
We’ve since processed over one hundred million in payments using Stripe, and have paid them millions in fees. Shipping that t-shirt, which probably cost them $20, ended up being a pretty decent investment.
It is (relatively) easy to provide personable support to your largest customers. It is hard to do the same for your smallest. However, those tiny customers normally appreciate it a lot more. It feels more unique and special to them, and can give you life-long advocates.