Expensify's Interview Preparation

30 Jan 2012

Expensify's Interview Preparation

Expensify is a very small company. Normally, within a small packed group of people, its culture should be unique and somewhat strange.

For example, I wouldn't be surprised if all of them were really into Star War and stuffs. I find Star War boring, btw :S

And if the leader likes me, everyone in the herd will also have a very very high tendency to like me.

Based on these 2 assumptions that I made up (out of nowhere), I come up with a good plan.

There are 3 things I need to learn:

  • What does Expensify offer in detail? and, more importantly, what is its value to users?
  • Who are their competitors? I know they don't really have real competitiors, but if Mint.com decides to pursue Expensify's goal, should they be worried?
  • What challenges is Expensify facing right now? What are the things that can be added?

A leader cares more about value, vision, and stuffs. So, this is why the plan is not to focus on technology but business.

This is not only to prepare for interview but also for me to know them better.

One of the show stoppers, which might lead to me choosing an offer from another company or them rejecting me, is the fact that I never use Expensify before.

Well, I never work in any profitable company and never have business trips.

I need to get to know them better and to see whether or not I'm excited with their works.

(Compared to Facebook and Twitter, which I use every friggin' day, I know exactly what I want to improve on them.)

Know Expensify Inside Out

Know Expensify's Compeititors

Here is a preliminary list of competitors:


No comment


Concur seems to be the biggest competitor.


I feel that Certify already loses from the website's appearance.

Know Expensify's Challenges

I've just come up with my own questions, which seem to fit Expensify's situation.

As I don't think they have problems with scaling, the most challenging thing Expensify is facing right now should be:

How would you improve the receipt scan process? Can we lower its cost, make it faster, or more efficient?

If they can offer the service for free, Expensify will win every friggin' competitor. OCR is a very difficult technology to build, and, if succeeded, it will set Expensify apart from any competitor (that it might have in the future).

The second most important question should be:

How would you improve Expensify?

It's an open question, and, in order to answer it, I have to be aware of Expensify's current value and future value.

The rest are simple technical challenges. Here are they:

  • How would you switch between two servers when one is down?
  • How would you backup data?
  • How would you synchronize data between 3 servers to support a fail over?
  • How would you improve data encryption using dual keys which are never written on disk? (What if one person died?)
  • How would you pull credit-card transactions from banks?

Dear Expensify, I will cover all the angles :P