Why Fi With Niharika Sishtla

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We are starting with a new series called ‘Why Fi’. The concept is simple, we ask our new joinees, ‘why Fi?’. The idea is to understand what made them choose Fi and their initial thoughts after joining.

For the first edition of this series, we spoke to Niharika Sishtla, one of Fi’s newest Product Managers. Let’s get to it.

Why Fi?

There were five factors that I was considering while looking for opportunities in the product management space.

  • A product-first company

I've been wanting to get into a product management role since college. And working with a product-first company as a PM comes with a steep learning curve since you are expected to build high-quality experiences for your users.

  • Leadership with strong product management experience

Product management as a role is not very mature in India. The work that you are expected to do as a PM and the outcomes that you are expected to deliver can vary a lot from company to company. That's why I was looking for a company that had leadership with strong product management experience so that they can guide me well and Fi fit the bill.

  • High-calibre people  

Ultimately, everything boils down to the people. Fi is one of the few startups in India where the company's founding team has strong product experience and have built fintech products like Google Pay. The people that work at Fi also have strong backgrounds in terms of work experience. A quick LinkedIn search of people across teams from tech, marketing, and strategy will tell you that.

  • High growth rate

A company that's growing at a high rate creates sustainable conditions for everything else. Fi has been adding users at a good rate, we recently crossed the 1 million active user base mark, and our users are quite engaged with the product.

  • A large and growing market

When market conditions are great, it creates room for error recovery and innovation. When there is no market for your product, no matter how strong your team is, the company will not do well. With the current traditional banking experience, there is a lot of room for products that provide seamless and delightful banking experiences that demystify finances for people. So, there will still be a lot of innovation in the fintech space.

Fi checked all these boxes for me and that’s why I decided to join when I was made an offer.  

How are you finding things since joining?

When I joined, I was asked to not do any work for the first two weeks and just speak with people and understand the product and company better. This was a good experience because in most startups you are expected to get started within two-three days. But here, I got the space to interact with people and get all my questions answered. I spoke with people from multiple teams to understand what they were trying to build, the challenges they were facing, and their goals for this quarter.

I was also assigned a buddy who helped me get access to any resources and tools that I needed. People are always happy to interact with you and help you out, even if they don't have time on a certain day, they get back to you soon enough.

There is also transparency within the organisation. EpiForums, or company-wide update meetings, are conducted every month to share regular updates on how the company is doing, what we are planning on doing next, what's going well, what's not, etc. Team members can also ask any questions without any concerns. Any data that you need on how the company or the product is doing is also available. You just need to reach out to the analysts working for that team.

It's been great so far. I'm expecting a lot of learning and growth from Fi.  

Niharika Sishtla, busy at work

Is there anything in particular you want to call out from your experience so far?

There are three things that stood out to me:

  • The founding team is extremely approachable. You can ask them anything you want and they will try their best to clarify the doubts that you have.

  • The documentation is pretty good at Fi. Typically, when startups are growing at a fast pace, they don't pay much attention to documentation and tend to face problems later on in terms of user onboarding or a record of the work done so far.

  • There is an emphasis on culture in whatever we do at Fi. Generally, startups tend to focus more on the product first and figure out the culture and what they stand for later on. We have the Fi principles in place that guide us when we are building products. I haven't seen this kind of clarity on what we stand for before.

How did you first find out about Fi?

I got to know about Fi when I started looking out for PM roles in startups operating in the fintech space. I had narrowed down on five startups that I wanted to get into and Fi was one of them.

What did you think about the Fi application process?

Fi's interview process was quite rigorous. I saw that as a good sign, since it meant that people working at Fi must have gone through a tough selection process. Even the questions that were asked during the interviews covered all aspects that a product manager should be good at.

I also had fun speaking with folks that I was interviewing with. Most of the interviews I had got extended beyond the scheduled time. I also asked questions in terms of what they were planning to do in the future and how they were thinking about the product over the next few years, and I was excited about what they told me.

What are you looking forward to doing at Fi?

I'm looking forward to making the onboarding flow delightful and personalised for every user. I have also been reaching out to our users to understand how their experience has been so far with Fi.

I have sent a bunch of questions to the founders about our core users, their needs, Fi's value proposition, our competitors, our monetisation model, our product vision, and the roadmap for the next 5-10 years. I'm looking forward to getting answers to those questions soon.

Interested in helping us build Fi? Check out our open roles here.

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