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Catherine Cornell’s UXDX talk 06. 01. 2021.
I’ve been a product manager for about 7 years.
Currently a Director of Product at Stash, focusing
on Stash’s Consumer Investing business.
Catherine Cornell.
Tech Debt
Stash is the first subscription platform
empowering middle-class Americans to
invest and build wealth.
Middle class Americans
Who is our market?
● 170m population size
● 45k - 145k household income
○ Median Stasher income is $50k
● Stash’s +5M customers are diverse -
coming from all over the US, with
unique financial backgrounds and
situations
● First time investors
02
Over the Invest product’s 4 years focus has been
given to expanding number of products offered
and iterating to find the right fit for new investors.
Stash November
2019.
● 250 investments
● Executed orders twice a day
● Adding a new investment took about 3
weeks and required coordination between 4
teams
Here’s what Stashers are thinking…
- iOS 2.9.9 user
The ability to purchase partial shares and the
small monthly fees are great. Unfortunately,
you only have the ability to purchase whatever
is listed on the App. They might want to figure
out how to broaden their investment options
before one or all of the major trading sites
jumps into the partial share niche and squeeze
them out of business.
“
- Android 1.19.16.6 user
Very smooth and convenient interface... very
simple, yet offers wide selection of options.
Only drawback... Doesn't offer full range
amount of companies to invest in
“
*This is not an endorsement or a statement of satisfaction by any individual. Research based on a survey conducted online within the United States by Stash using SurveyMonkey technology in March 2021.
Scale from 250 to over 3,000
investments.
The mission:
We identified
some blockers.
● 10 pages document of KNOWN blockers
○ Mobile layout was designed with three segment
controls each lists to scroll through, already too
difficult sift through
■ iOS wouldn’t even be able to pull down
3,000 investment names let alone
constantly updating pricing
○ Investment pricing wasn’t scalable, we were
updating a single table in our monolith every 5
minutes
○ Tool the brokerage operators traders used to fill
orders tapped out at 500 investment names
○ Current 2 windows structure would not be able
to keep us with the volume of orders
○ Infinite unknown blockers
How did we back
ourselves into 10
pages of mistakes?
Tech Debt
Tech debt is the implied cost of
additional work in the future
caused by choosing an easy
solution today.
Product
is the cosigner of
tech debt.
● Round-ups
● OKR planning
● New feature exploration
● Test win
Identifying debt.
Identifying Tech Debt
● Good Citizen Rule
● Small Bites
● Design It In
● Demolition
Approaches for tackling tech
debt.
Tech Debt approaches
Opportunistic refactoring while coding features,
time for this is included in story points.
Good Citizen Rule.
● Reducing verboseness
● Removing dead/unused code
● Adding more test coverage
INSERT IMAGE HERE
Tech Debt approaches
Small improvements baked into a sprint. Pointed
tickets on the smaller side.
Small bites.
● Query optimizations
● Bug fixing
● Creating tools that suck up developer’s time
INSERT IMAGE HERE
Tech Debt approaches
Designed changes to a larger foundation when
implementing new features.
Design it in.
● Breaking pricing into a microservice out of a
monolith
● Moving to shared components in iOS
● Introducing new technologies into your
stack
INSERT IMAGE HERE
Tech Debt approaches
Major changes to a larger foundation. Often span
multiple sprints.
Demolition.
● Updating to Rails 5
● Rewriting a service in a new language
● Moving to streaming event architecture
INSERT IMAGE HERE
Tech Debt approaches
● Calculated the maximum number of investments that could be added.
● 250ish
● Added 200
○ took note of the largest pain points in the process
○ uncovered some of the unknown blockers
○ validated the hypothesis that if we added more investments then we would see an increase in
key metrics
Snowball Method.
Our debt repayment plan
Buys and Deposits on the Stash Platform
*This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only represents an assessment as of 05/13/2021
02
Paying off our tech
debt paid off.
142%
Increase in AUM.
13%
Increase in Customer
Dividends
37%
Increase in
Purchases
And paid off in dividends...
Google searches for “stocks” in the United States
New Stash subscriber creation
● There will always be tech debt
● Be proud of your tech debt
● Have a process and feedback loop between engineering <> product
Recap.
Tech Debt approaches
catherine.cornell@stash.com
Questions?
This material is for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing in this content should be construed as Investment, Tax or Legal advice.
Contents of this presentation are provided for informational purposes only and are the property of Stash. The company does not waive any of its
proprietary rights in, including but not limited to, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property rights. No recipient may sell, republish, print,
download, copy, reproduce, modify, upload, post, transmit, or distribute in any way any portion of this presentation or its contents without the prior written
consent of Stash.
Forward-looking statements are only predictions based on current expectations and projections about future events and are subject to a number of risks
and uncertainties. Past Performance does not guarantee future results. Investing Involves Risk, including the loss of Principal.
Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. Images of holdings and performance are
hypothetical and provided for information purposes only. Investing involves risk and investments may lose value. For more information, please visit
www.stash.com.
This material is not intended as investment advice and is not meant to suggest that any securities are suitable investments for any particular investor.
Investment advice is only provided to Stash customers. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value. All product and company names are
trademarks ™ or registered ® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.
Stash banking account opening is subject to identity verification by Green Dot Bank. Bank Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank and Stash Visa
Debit card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Your debit account is insured to the regulatory limits by the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Green Dot is a registered trademark of Green Dot Corporation. ©2020 Green Dot Bank. All rights reserved.
Investment products and services are not offered by Green Dot Bank and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value.
All rewards earned through use of the Stash Visa Debit card (Stock-Back® Card) will be fulfilled by Stash Investments LLC. Rewards will go to your Stash
personal investment account, which is not FDIC insured. You will bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the investments that you
earn, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash. Stash Stock-Back® Rewards is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot
Corporation, Visa U.S.A., or any of their respective affiliates. Bank Account Services provided by and Stash Visa Debit Card (Stock-Back® Card) issued by
Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association.
Legal Disclosure.

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Middle class Americans empowered to invest and build wealth

  • 1. Catherine Cornell’s UXDX talk 06. 01. 2021.
  • 2. I’ve been a product manager for about 7 years. Currently a Director of Product at Stash, focusing on Stash’s Consumer Investing business. Catherine Cornell.
  • 4. Stash is the first subscription platform empowering middle-class Americans to invest and build wealth.
  • 5. Middle class Americans Who is our market? ● 170m population size ● 45k - 145k household income ○ Median Stasher income is $50k ● Stash’s +5M customers are diverse - coming from all over the US, with unique financial backgrounds and situations ● First time investors
  • 6. 02 Over the Invest product’s 4 years focus has been given to expanding number of products offered and iterating to find the right fit for new investors. Stash November 2019. ● 250 investments ● Executed orders twice a day ● Adding a new investment took about 3 weeks and required coordination between 4 teams
  • 7. Here’s what Stashers are thinking… - iOS 2.9.9 user The ability to purchase partial shares and the small monthly fees are great. Unfortunately, you only have the ability to purchase whatever is listed on the App. They might want to figure out how to broaden their investment options before one or all of the major trading sites jumps into the partial share niche and squeeze them out of business. “ - Android 1.19.16.6 user Very smooth and convenient interface... very simple, yet offers wide selection of options. Only drawback... Doesn't offer full range amount of companies to invest in “ *This is not an endorsement or a statement of satisfaction by any individual. Research based on a survey conducted online within the United States by Stash using SurveyMonkey technology in March 2021.
  • 8. Scale from 250 to over 3,000 investments. The mission:
  • 9. We identified some blockers. ● 10 pages document of KNOWN blockers ○ Mobile layout was designed with three segment controls each lists to scroll through, already too difficult sift through ■ iOS wouldn’t even be able to pull down 3,000 investment names let alone constantly updating pricing ○ Investment pricing wasn’t scalable, we were updating a single table in our monolith every 5 minutes ○ Tool the brokerage operators traders used to fill orders tapped out at 500 investment names ○ Current 2 windows structure would not be able to keep us with the volume of orders ○ Infinite unknown blockers
  • 10. How did we back ourselves into 10 pages of mistakes?
  • 12. Tech debt is the implied cost of additional work in the future caused by choosing an easy solution today.
  • 13. Product is the cosigner of tech debt.
  • 14. ● Round-ups ● OKR planning ● New feature exploration ● Test win Identifying debt. Identifying Tech Debt
  • 15. ● Good Citizen Rule ● Small Bites ● Design It In ● Demolition Approaches for tackling tech debt. Tech Debt approaches
  • 16. Opportunistic refactoring while coding features, time for this is included in story points. Good Citizen Rule. ● Reducing verboseness ● Removing dead/unused code ● Adding more test coverage INSERT IMAGE HERE Tech Debt approaches
  • 17. Small improvements baked into a sprint. Pointed tickets on the smaller side. Small bites. ● Query optimizations ● Bug fixing ● Creating tools that suck up developer’s time INSERT IMAGE HERE Tech Debt approaches
  • 18. Designed changes to a larger foundation when implementing new features. Design it in. ● Breaking pricing into a microservice out of a monolith ● Moving to shared components in iOS ● Introducing new technologies into your stack INSERT IMAGE HERE Tech Debt approaches
  • 19. Major changes to a larger foundation. Often span multiple sprints. Demolition. ● Updating to Rails 5 ● Rewriting a service in a new language ● Moving to streaming event architecture INSERT IMAGE HERE Tech Debt approaches
  • 20. ● Calculated the maximum number of investments that could be added. ● 250ish ● Added 200 ○ took note of the largest pain points in the process ○ uncovered some of the unknown blockers ○ validated the hypothesis that if we added more investments then we would see an increase in key metrics Snowball Method. Our debt repayment plan
  • 21.
  • 22. Buys and Deposits on the Stash Platform *This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only represents an assessment as of 05/13/2021
  • 23. 02 Paying off our tech debt paid off. 142% Increase in AUM. 13% Increase in Customer Dividends 37% Increase in Purchases
  • 24. And paid off in dividends... Google searches for “stocks” in the United States
  • 26. ● There will always be tech debt ● Be proud of your tech debt ● Have a process and feedback loop between engineering <> product Recap. Tech Debt approaches
  • 28. This material is for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing in this content should be construed as Investment, Tax or Legal advice. Contents of this presentation are provided for informational purposes only and are the property of Stash. The company does not waive any of its proprietary rights in, including but not limited to, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property rights. No recipient may sell, republish, print, download, copy, reproduce, modify, upload, post, transmit, or distribute in any way any portion of this presentation or its contents without the prior written consent of Stash. Forward-looking statements are only predictions based on current expectations and projections about future events and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. Past Performance does not guarantee future results. Investing Involves Risk, including the loss of Principal. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. Images of holdings and performance are hypothetical and provided for information purposes only. Investing involves risk and investments may lose value. For more information, please visit www.stash.com. This material is not intended as investment advice and is not meant to suggest that any securities are suitable investments for any particular investor. Investment advice is only provided to Stash customers. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value. All product and company names are trademarks ™ or registered ® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them. Stash banking account opening is subject to identity verification by Green Dot Bank. Bank Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank and Stash Visa Debit card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Your debit account is insured to the regulatory limits by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Green Dot is a registered trademark of Green Dot Corporation. ©2020 Green Dot Bank. All rights reserved. Investment products and services are not offered by Green Dot Bank and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value. All rewards earned through use of the Stash Visa Debit card (Stock-Back® Card) will be fulfilled by Stash Investments LLC. Rewards will go to your Stash personal investment account, which is not FDIC insured. You will bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the investments that you earn, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash. Stash Stock-Back® Rewards is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A., or any of their respective affiliates. Bank Account Services provided by and Stash Visa Debit Card (Stock-Back® Card) issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association. Legal Disclosure.

Editor's Notes

  1. Verbal Disclosure: For record, all of the information I note in this discussion is for educational and information purposes only.
  2. Stash is the first subscription platform empowering middle-class Americans to invest and build wealth.
  3. median HHI 50k Stash’s +5M customers are diverse - coming from all over the US, with unique financial backgrounds and situations First time investors
  4. Each time a new investment was added to the platform our key metrics (AUM, buys and deposits) would jump up. -found product market fit and Stashers were growing with us
  5. Unfortunately, you only have the ability to purchase whatever is listed on the App. They might want to figure out how to broaden their investment options Doesn't offer full range amount of companies to invest in
  6. Opportunity sized Aligned on mission Really excited for forecasts
  7. 10 pages document of KNOWN blockers Mobile layout was designed with three segment controls each lists to scroll through, already too difficult sift through iOS wouldn’t even be able to pull down 3,000 investment names let alone constantly updating pricing Investment pricing wasn’t scalable, we were updating a single table in our monolith every 5 minutes Tool the brokerage operators traders used to fill orders tapped out at 500 investment names The forecasted gains we had been so excited about? Current 2 windows structure would not be able to keep us with the volume of orders Infinite unknown blockers
  8. Tech debt is borrowing labor and capital from future “you”. -Doesn’t mean you made bad choices, it’s the cost of building. Its a graduation, get your system a cap and gown/play it Vitamin C
  9. At Stash: Engineering is responsible for identifying what tech debt there is and explaining to Product. Product is responsible for truly understanding what the tech debt is and prioritizing it Product creates an environment where it is easy for two parties to have a consistent and constant dialogue
  10. These are ‘checkpoints’, or moments when its not only appropriate, but needed to check in with your tech debt balance. These are in order from most ideal to least ideal.
  11. Developers come along a campsite, and spot a chance to make an improvement. Reducing verboseness Removing dead/unused code Adding more test coverage
  12. Small improvements baked into a sprint. Pointed tickets on the smaller side. Bug fixing Creating tools that suck up developer’s time
  13. Designed changes to a larger foundation when implementing new features. Breaking pricing into a microservice out of a monolith Moving to shared components in iOS Introducing new technologies into your stack
  14. Major changes to a larger foundation. Often span multiple sprints. Updating to Rails 5 Rewriting a service in a new language Moving to streaming event architecture
  15. The debt snowball is a method of debt repayment in which a person pays off the smallest debt first, while making only minimum monthly payments on the other debts. Sort of like MVP. alculated the maximum number of investments that could be added. 250ish Added 200 took note of the largest pain points in the process uncovered some of the unknown blockers validated the hypothesis that if we added more investments then we would see an increase in key metrics
  16. -in total we added 3463 investments were added throughout 2020, with most being added in late feb through March -1555 were added in March -with 839 being added the first week Stash was remote
  17. -$908 million AUM to $2.2 billion, 142% increase -13.7 million in dividends for customers -37% increase in purchases -continued commitment to engaging in tech debt identification ceremonies and slowly working through tech debt backlog
  18. In January 2021, a short squeeze of the stock GameStop and other securities (YOLO stocks). The media coverage given to retail investors that had banned together in the subreddit /wallstreetbets created a retail investing freezy. Many Americans were learning for they could start investing with low In the United States there was a retail investing boom.
  19. Stayed because we were able to office advice and guidance. -able to keep up with the record breaking volume of buys and investment page loads