“I couldn’t find a credit card that worked for me…so I started my own.”

Yonder cofounder Tim Chong took matters into his own hands when he realised the kind of credit card he wanted didn’t exist in the UK.

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It’s no secret that the UK is a fintech powerhouse, so when I moved to London from Australia back in 2018 I couldn’t wait to get stuck into all the financial services that are changing the way the world manages their money. 

Credit crunch

I was spoiled for choice when it came to opening a current account, but it was a different story with credit. Where was the modern product experience for credit cards that Monzo has built for debit? Instead, I was offered credit card options that felt old and stuffy, with rewards that felt underwhelming and irrelevant to me. And accessing credit in itself was tough – the fact I didn’t have a UK credit report seemed to make me an undesirable customer, despite having a good job and a great credit score back home. 

This experience, alongside the terrible reputation that credit has here, made me realise just how badly the whole system needs rebuilding. So along with my two cofounders Harry and Theso, we set about building something new – a rewards card that makes credit a pleasure to use, that determines eligibility with more than just a credit report and offers rewards that actually make sense to the lives of young people, enabling them to explore the best things to eat, drink and do in their city.  

Building a credit card from scratch has been really hard, but creating something that’s actually rebuilding the relationship that people have with credit has been the highlight of my career. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Team matters more than anything

The first 6 months of Yonder were spent on pretty much nothing but hiring our initial team of engineers. Finding the right people for the job was our biggest priority. Most banks have  hundreds of engineers just maintaining a credit card. We built the entire core banking and app in-house with just four engineers and one designer. 

When you’re faced with a tough challenge, surrounding yourself with the right people means you can achieve anything. Building the right team and the right culture has a multiplicative effect – great teams attract other great people, and it makes building 10x easier and 10x more fun. A lot of people get caught up with the size of the team, but don't think about the density of quality. More doesn’t always equal better. 

It all starts (and ends) with customers

The whole purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. My experience is that as companies grow, it can be easy to lose sight of the customer experience, getting caught up with internal jockeying for power and internal metrics and forgetting the reason why the company exists in the first place.

Our customers are the single most important thing to us at Yonder and they have been from the very beginning. One of our philosophies is for all of our team to have at least two hours of customer interaction every six weeks. By doing this, everyone gets regular insight into what’s impacting our customers, what makes them tick and what we might be able to do to help improve things for them. We listen to all suggestions from our members, and their feedback helps us shape how our business grows. In my opinion, the moment you stop listening to customers is the moment you forget the reason you’re here. 

Persist through failure and setbacks

My career definitely hasn’t been a straight line of success. It's had its ups and downs and I’ve had my fair share of rejections from jobs and graduate schools. Rejection teaches you a lot about resilience, and any startup founder will tell you you’ll need a lot of this when you’re trying to get your business off the ground. 

The only thing you can guarantee as a founder is that nothing will go to plan, and there will always, always be setbacks. You’ll miss milestones that you were confident about, unexpected things will go wrong, projects will take longer and there will be fires to fight at every turn. Failure and setbacks are hard, but they’re part of the process. So I’ve found the best way to handle the ups and downs is by always assuming the worst and planning for every eventuality – that way you’ll be as prepared for the unexpected as you can be. 

Make unchartered territory your mission

A lot of what makes our product so appealing to our members is the way we make what feels like the ‘impossible possible’. Take paying with points for example – we knew that coupons and activation codes feel clunky to our audience and even uncomfortable at times. Nobody wants to be flashing a discount code when they’re on a date. 

So our members can redeem their points just by paying and then choosing whether to earn or redeem with a simple slider in their app. No pre-booking or coupons required. This part of our product was really complicated to build but is one of the many little touches our members love about Yonder and is what sets us apart – features that are built to surprise and delight and that make credit feel like a ‘beautiful’ experience for the first time. 

For every great idea, there are a handful of competitors who will be hot on your heels. So by stepping into the unknown and trying things that no one has done before will often be the things that make your customers smile, or think ‘wow, that’s cool’, or make them want to tell others about it. 

It’s the harder path of course, but in my opinion, going the extra mile is always worth the effort. 

Tim Chong Yonder cofounder
Tim Chong - Yonder CEO & cofounder

Yonder is a credit card for the modern explorer, people who took the risk to move to London for their next big opportunity, whether it's from Leeds, Cape Town or Sydney. We're building a credit card membership that's truly without compromise.

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