Kavak is one of the most successful companies in Latin America. Valued at almost US$ 9 billion, they are also the first Unicorn Company in the history of Mexico. They expanded very quickly from a car reseller solution to a company that now offers additional services like car maintenance or financing plans for buyers.
Founded in 2016, Kavak is now present in seven countries with an impressive 8,000 workforce. Just in the tech team, they are around 1,000 people. So we sat down with Timothee Trichet, Kavak’s Head of Product, to understand the challenges of this rapid growth.
The two big product issues we have today that are specific to Kavak are internationalization and how do you change the habits of a company that already has 8,000 employees.
As Timothee explained to us, opening in new markets with a Fintech product is a balancing act: you want to build a global product – to benefit from economies of scale – while respecting local laws.
Finding time for deep focus
A third underlying problem that amplified the first two was the instant culture: everything was going through Slack and Meetings.
It’s horrible because you’re constantly switching contexts. As soon as someone has a project on which they want to move forward, they will send you a Slack, or they will book a meeting.
This resulted in six to seven hours of meetings per day, a big problem for Product teams that need at least 3 to 4 hours a day of deep focus.
Timothée knew he needed to find a way to solve this, to limit synchronous communication a bit. He first tested with one-pagers, but soon realized that not everyone had this mindset, to write a document and pass it on. And that's where Claap came in.
The power of asynchronous video collaboration
I thought Claap could be another way to do asynchronous work. Since people are very comfortable with the writing exercise, a claap is more interactive, more intuitive and at the same time, it forces the person to structure their thoughts.
Timothée quickly found that what would have taken half an hour in a meeting to be communicated, with a claap it took 5 minutes. The magic? Having time to think, instead of talking on the spot.
Before recording their claap, people will say to themselves: "Wait, I don't know who is going to see this video. I want to structure it a bit.
Claap expanded very organically in the Product org. Everyone that received one of his claaps said to him “that’s great. I want to use it in our team too!”. People quickly saw the benefits of time-saving, structuring of thoughts, and the ability to open mini threads right in the video, instead of having a conversation just on Slack.
The perfect storm: design reviews
The first use case Timothée tested was with design reviews. At Kavak, they used to have two meetings for this: the internal design review with the designer, the product manager, and the tech leader. Here they exchange ideas and often they have several designers participating too. And then they hold a second design review that’s really a decision-making meeting that they call the “go build”. Both meetings require communicating the plan, collecting feedback, and deciding on the next steps.
Before (Claap) it was a bit of a hassle because we needed to bring people together. And the people who give the go are often people who have a crazy agenda. So sometimes we were stuck for a week just because we didn't get the go from the right person.
With Claap, they completely replaced this decision-making meeting. While recording, teams give stakeholders a walk-through with Figma where they explain their plan, show the hedge cases and ask for a decision. The decision maker either adds a comment at the end with "go/build" or they write their feedback. Just like that, they have something written and suddenly claap replaced this meeting.
Having fun with product demos and making bug reports less painful
Two other uses cases quickly adopted were product demos and bug reports.
Before using Claap, Product Managers at Kavak used to make a video capture of the screen for product demos, but they couldn’t add voice-over. So it was a little less lively. Claap replaced the video captures they had.
It's more fun for people to see the product in production working and so they don't have to go into production themselves, pretend to be a real client and therefore dirty the data a bit.
With bug reports, the goal was to make the process less painful. They used to have an excel file where people had to write what they did, where it happen, the customers affected, and all the steps to reproduce and explain the problem. “Now you remove all the textual part because everything happens orally. That’s the benefit”.
Overall, Timothée saw a very good organic adoption of Claap. After a quick training, product owners proposed to their squads to try out Claap. “It took off very quickly. We didn’t have to insist a lot, people found it very practical”.
The biggest win: having time for deep work
Claap allowed Timothée and his team (+60 people at the time of the interview) to set up Wednesdays without meetings and respect that.
In fact, I think that if we didn't have Claap, people would have a harder time respecting this rule because there is a time when you need to speak and say orally. Claap allows us to respect that. Maybe we'll generalize them to another day in the week.
All of a sudden, Timothée and his team cut their number of meetings to 20%. He highly advocates this, especially for jobs where the context switch has an even greater cost.
Resources to help you get started
If you loved reading this article and want now to implement those best practices in your own company, here are a few good playbooks to start: