Fireside with Voxgig for Professional Speakers

Joe Pettersson

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Joe Pettersson
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Richard Roger
Voxgig Founder
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Joe Pettersson
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Joe Pettersson joins the podcast, to talk all things devrel at Banked is a global payments network, and if you’ve ever tried to order anything online, you’ll know that the payments systems used by various websites are far from perfect. Banked is on a mission to fix that. They want to get users through payments systems as smoothly as possible. As Joe puts it, the payments industry is big, but old-fashioned. So the question for him and the team at Banked became “how would we build Visa, or Mastercard if we started in 2023?” 

Alongside all of this, Joe and his team have also made waves in the devrel space, and we were excited to hear about their innovative new system for measuring developer relations. At, their sales process is developer-enabled. It comes down to whether you’re selling directly to developers, or trying to avoid the developers “nope”-ing your product when it’s put before them.

Joe explains that a huge part of’s success has been down to their focus on the developer experience. From his perspective, payment systems are already complex enough without needing to pass that complexity onto developers. For Richard, this represents a huge leap in efficiency from the days when he spent hours trying to integrate a credit card payment provider with a website, and had to personally calculate the encryption hash. PTSD, anyone?

Joe tells us that accounting for the developer experience while designing your product can be directly translated into increased revenue. Developers won’t always be choosing the products they use, but they are often given the power to say no. But how exactly do you measure the benefit of time and money invested into devrel? Joe and his team have a system that involves finding out what percentage of your prospect’s developers have heard of your project. It sounds simple, but we think this system is a gem that will soon be spreading to other companies. Listen to Joe explain HOW they implement this system. 

See Show Transcripts

Interview Intro

Richard Rodger:  [0:00:00] Welcome to the Voxgig Podcast. We talk to people in the developer community about developer relations, public speaking and community events. For more details, visit All right, let's get started. 

You know how developer relations is really hard to measure? And we’ve had lots of guests on this podcast talking about the problems of measurement, proving to your management that you can actually make a difference. My guest today, Joe Pettersson, might have cracked this. Joe uses a metric he calls developer engagement, and it works like this. You count the number of developers in your prospect that have already heard of you. That is pretty neat. 

At, Joe’s company, the sales process is developer enabled. That means that developers represent the nope faction, in that they can kill deals one of the things Joe does with his developer relations activity is get developers to say yes. If that’s the type of product you’re selling, this interview is for you. [0:01:10]

Main Interview

Joe Pettersson

Richard Rodger:  [0:01:12] Joe, welcome, welcome to the Fireside with Voxgig Podcast; I’m so delighted to have you here. You work for; you have a developer portal. First of all, start out by telling us what is and why do developers matter to you guys. [0:01:28]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:01:30] It’s great to be here, Richard. Banked is – it’s one of those businesses that has a somewhat ambition for the thing it’s set for itself, in that we want to build a payment network. When you think about a payment network, you probably think of Visa or Mastercard. But we want to ask ourselves the question to say: “What would happen if – how would you build those businesses if you started them in 2023? What assumptions would you throw away? What kind of meta-architecture from a product point of view would you get rid of? 

For example, you certainly wouldn’t put tens of billions of little bits of plastic in people’s pocket; you should (inaudible, 0:02:12). But how would you do that and what would you do? And the reason we asked that is – and the reason we think it’s valuable to answer that question is because merchants are looking for new answers. The economics, the fundamental economics of 2-3% transaction fees on payments aren’t viable anymore. And so, we need to ask some – we think some pretty fundamental questions about how you put the payment network. 

And to do that, the technology’s now available. For example, we use open banking in Europe; we use a different set of technologies in the US, a different set in Australia, another set in Europe. The idea is that we provide a global abstraction on top of a new way of people paying for things. And about why developers are important, the – Stripe in many ways taught the payment industry many different things. [0:03:07]

Richard Rodger:  [0:03:07] Yes, they did. 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:03:09] Many things. But one of the most important lessons is the value of developers in the payments ecosystem, the – how advantageous and strategic and valuable it can be to focus on developer experience, to have a technology product and an ecosystem that is not something that makes developers shiver at night. And helps them do their job effectively; gives them a set of tools and resources and everything else, in order to be able to do everything they need to do as quickly and as easily and as – in a high-quality way as possible. [0:03:52]

Richard Rodger:  [0:03:53] And just for those who did not experience the world before Stripe, I have PTSD from trying to integrate a payment – very powerful payment provider – it’s probably about 15 years ago. Where I had to personally calculate the encryption hash from the list of fields. And if you got it wrong, it just didn’t work, and there’s no way to do the debug, no way to do it. [0:04:16]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:04:18] And payments are complicated enough with the way we look at it. And what we don’t want to do is to have to introduce all of that additional complexity to a developer who’s been asked to do something, who’s been – who’s taken this task on himself. So, that’s the – we’re not a card network; we’re not Stripe. 

But that lesson, that – whether it be part of the sales process, the implementation process or anything else, that if you think about developers, if they’re a core customer of yours, if you can do everything you can to build the best product for them, it’s going to have a huge impact on your business. And it’s going to be a ubiquitously positive thing. [0:04:55] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:04:56] Absolutely. Can I focus on’s business for a minute, just to understand it a little bit deeper. One of the issues that I ran into running a SaaS platform is billing, and there’s a whole bunch of issues around subscriptions. But then there’s also a whole bunch of issues around European Union VAT and then all sorts of weird rules for India and all sorts of stuff. Do you guys help with that? Is that part of what you do? [0:05:24]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:05:26] Banked’s business is about effectively making the best way to convert a customer to a payment; that’s at the heart of what we do. So, if you imagine the typical scenario. You’ve gone onto a website; you’re going to buy a pair of trainers. You’ve got the trainers in your cart and then you’re looking at that paywall, that really intimidating thing that exists now, where there’s maybe 40 buttons that you can choose in order to pay for your thing. 

Our goal as a business is to try and get you, the consumer, through that funnel as effectively, as cheaply and as – in a timely enough way that it does the best by that much. And so, rather than you clicking your card, where a merchant may pay 2%, you click something like Banked and you pay 0.1%. Right, so you can imagine where a merchant has a huge incentive to try and incentivize you to go down that path as part of that journey, so- [0:06:28]

Richard Rodger:  [0:06:28] For sure, for sure. And I believe the American payments are – ACH and all that – are completely nuts. And in Europe- [0:06:35] 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:06:35] Oh, yeah! 

Richard Rodger:  [0:06:37] -we’re sort of okay, but US payments are- [0:06:40]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:06:41] Banked is a huge – sorry, excuse me – the US is a hugely strategic market for Banked. And as a European person who – I’ve been in payments for a while, so I know a little bit about it. But even with that experience, coming from Europe and looking at the US, it’s quite extraordinary how large the payments market is, but also quite how old-fashioned it is in certain ways. There are hundreds of millions of checks printed every year in the US, and if you live in Europe, I can’t remember the last time I saw a check or I used a check. So, just that as an example is – yeah, there’s a huge amount of ground to run into. [0:07:22]

Richard Rodger:  [0:07:23] Okay, so given that your business is a core financial business and you think this is going to be business that’s done by old guys in suits in cigar smoking – cigar-filled rooms. But yet it turns out that developer experience has been core to your business. [0:07:43] 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:07:46] It has; it has, and we think about it in quite a structured way. Because one of the things that we realized very early on is the material, quantifiable impact that great developer experience has on our ability to sell our product. A great example of this is that a couple of years ago, we were part of a – we were brought in quite late to a process where one of our customers were going to go with one of our competitors. 

And we were brought in quite late in the process. And they were like, “We spent about six weeks implementing a demo with this other business, and it’s been a bit of a struggle for us. It hasn’t been clear. The developers have struggled.” And then they took our product and our demo and they implemented one in about – I think it was about three hours in total. So- [0:08:44]

Richard Rodger:  [0:08:45] Lovely. 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:08:46] -being able to go from six weeks for one to three hours to another. And that thing, almost by itself, won us that deal. Because what they saw is a business that cared about them. Because that’s a – there’s a – I’m thinking there’s a great relationship between great developer experience and empathy in a product. Because if you’re going to – if you’re not going to care about the people who most intimately use your product, then I’m not sure it says the right thing about how a business thinks about its users or how it values them and their time. 

That was a big part of us winning that deal, and literally, a great developer experience and the investments we made led directly to revenue. And since then, we’ve been able to put real metrics and focus on developer experience. Because the company has this institutional knowledge and institutional experience of how important it is for our commercial programs. [0:09:49] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:09:49] Where does that come from? Are you all techies, or is it some insight that the leadership had or what? [0:09:54] 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:09:56] It’s technology people being part of the sales process and being a valuable part of it, myself and others, and being able to advocate for it as an important component. It’s a part of the attitude of the founders, of understanding. They’re not technology people; they’d be the first people to admit. But their understanding and the grasp, the great grasp that they have of the value of technology in payments and the role it can play. 

Finally, it’s – we’ve got the numbers. We’ve closed deals; customers have said to us, “The reason I closed the deal was X. It was developer experience and technology and others.” And that goes a really long way. It’s really easy to convince a skeptical commercial person or salesperson about the value of developer experience when their customers tell them it’s valuable. And that’s the thing that’s been a huge part of Banked’s experience. [0:10:55]

Richard Rodger:  [0:10:57] Yeah, and just to unpack this a little bit – because in the developer relations world, people are struggling with – it’s placed in the marketing and sales cycle. And a lot of people are under pressure to be very metrics driven, but very marketing metrics driven in terms of eyeballs. And it feels like the real insight here is that the place of developer relations and developer experience is a little bit further down in terms of opening the floodgates of the deal. They don’t find the deal, but they make sure it doesn’t get blocked. [0:11:35]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:11:37] Absolutely. One of the things that was most insightful for us – this was very early on in the business. We thought about, what is the – how do our deals work? What are the activities that happen in them? And I’m sure any technology person will recognize what I’m about to describe, where you can imagine the buyer of a payment product like cars is typically not a technology role. It could be a finance role or a product role or something else. 

But what happens is that they get excited about it; they become enthused about this deal and potentially want to explore it. And then they send a Slack message to a CTO or an engineering manager or a dev lead. And they’re like, “We’re talking to these folks about onboarding them as a payment method. Can you spend 15 minutes looking at them? Is their documentation vaguely sensible? Is their product coherent? Is there any concerns that you have?”

And that idea of this lightweight due diligence that technology people do as part of the process, is where you can have some of the most leverage with developer experience and developer relations. Because a) hopefully, if you take those very seriously, you’ve thought about what that person values. 

So, when they look at your books or they look at your ecosystem, they recognize, and the lightning fork is struck for them recognizing somebody who takes what they do seriously and thinks about it. But also, talking about one of the metrics, Richard, is – what’s really important to us, and the metric we measure, is the percentage of technology people that exist at our customers or prospective customers who have heard of Banked before we talk to them. So- [0:13:28] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:13:29] Yeah, I love it; I love it. [0:13:30]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:13:31] So, if you’re the person at the end of that Slack message, if I’m the head of payments at this particular business. I send you a message. You’re like, “Yeah, I know Banked. Yeah, I read an article about them. I listened to somebody from Banked on a podcast. I’ve – I’m aware of one of their open-source projects.” The attitude you have as part of that and the relationship you have to that business fundamentally changes. 

And so, when we think about it, it’s often that it’s very difficult for us to attribute new deals to technology people, simply because they’re not the decision makers for our products, for the products they are. But what we see is that technology people are critical for stopping deals. They’re critical for – if you got that Slack message, Richard, and you looked at our website and you were like, “What are these guys doing? They’ve got no idea what they’re talking about. Their docs are awful. It could take me forever.” [0:14:22]

Richard Rodger:  [0:14:22] Yeah, the nope factor, right? [0:14:23]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:14:23] Yeah, exactly. They’re actively insulting to my intelligence; whatever it is. We say no, we can’t do this; that’s a real blocker to a deal. Our ability to be able to influence you to say, “Yes!” Right, yes! Barring some other things in the deeper investigation, this company looks like they know what they’re doing and they look like something that’s ergonomic for me and my team. That’s really valuable, and that part of the process is what we structure a bunch of our technology engagement around. [0:14:51]

Richard Rodger:  [0:14:52] You may have – I’m quite serious about this – you may have solved the metrics question in developer relations, because it’s  such a huge topic and people struggle with it so much. But your metric is the number of developers that know about you already, before you engage. [0:15:08]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:15:08] Exactly. It could literally just be, I think I’ve heard that name before, all the way up to, yes, I’m actively involved in following this business and their success and their technology. [0:15:19] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:15:20] Now the reason that it’s a good measure is because you don’t move the needle on that number by generating tons and tons of eyeball content. You don’t generate that by doing loads of cheesy things. The only way – because developers talk to each other and they tell each other about cool stuff. 

The only real way you move that metric is by valuable – community involvement, by having really good developer experience, by showing that you care, that you have empathy for developers. And it gets – it’s such a good metric, because it achieves the core business goal, which is, it gets a deal over the line. [0:16:03]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:16:04] Absolutely. And bluntly, the reason – the only reason we do developer experience and developer relations is because it has a positive impact on revenue. The only reason we do – the only reason I can stand in front of our CFO and explain to her why I’m going to make those investments is because I can draw a very quantifiable line between every dollar we spend and every dollar we make, and that’s the core of it. And if you have that established, you have buy-in and you have metrics, then you don’t tend to have conversations around – why are we doing this? Because it becomes clear to everyone, and they can really see the value. [0:16:43] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:16:44] I’ll give you a little bit more structure around it. So, your business, I would characterize in dev rel lingo, is a developer enabled business. Which means that you’re not selling to developers, but developers enable the business to happen. And there’s other companies that would be developer first, where it’s actually a developer product, and developers are key to making the buying decision. 

But that’s a much smaller part of the market, because most businesses are not about selling; they’re not about cloud services. They’re about stuff in the real world, like what you guys do. Most people in this space are struggling in a developer enabled context and finding it very hard to prove their value within the organization. And you guys, you’re doing an amazing job of it, so you may have cracked the puzzle. [0:17:35] 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:17:38] The thing that you touched on before is that - one of the things that when you look out into the community at the moment is, you see a lot of businesses who are in some way pulling back from investing in developer experience and developer relations. There’ve been some awful news about layoffs; it’s a reality. 

And I – in my network, I’ve lots of people in those businesses, and the message I get back is exactly what you’ve just described there, is these developer enabled businesses who have struggled to be able to do two things for me. One is to articulate the quantifiable impact, to have those metrics that they track, but also to have buy-in that those metrics are valuable. 

Because that second one for me is really important. Because as a CTO, I can get up on my box and I can shout about how valuable it is to convince developers as part of the sales process. But unless our chief growth officer buys that and has bought into it, unless our CEO, our CFO, our COO buys into that and are willing to stand behind it, it doesn’t matter. 

And that’s a thing that I – it’s a personal lesson I’ve learned, is that the openness and the focus and the support of the founders in my example and the wider leadership team has been really critical for this. Without them standing behind this and being like, “No, I completely buy this. I don’t need to be convinced,” almost, I don’t think we’d have got to the place where we are right now. [0:19:19]

Richard Rodger:  [0:19:20] It needs to be very cross-functional, doesn’t it, in the organization. And the other question that that then triggers for me is, does it need to rest on an account-based marketing strategy for the firm as a whole? [0:19:34]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:19:37] I think it does. Let me put it this way. In the context of Banked and the type of business that Banked is and wants to build, it does. Just because in our business, we are – salespeople call it whale hunting, in that our deal flow is about high-value, low-volume deals. So, 10 very large deals every year rather than a thousand much smaller deals. 

So, accounts-based marketing is critical for that end-to-end deal flow and that idea. And one of the things that we see is that – what that also enables us to do from a developer point of view is to focus our resources in the right places. We could say, “Okay, if our metric’s important to us, if the number of technology people who’ve heard of us, where are the technology people at the customers who we’re trying to go after?” 

If you’re – if I’m trying to target you, Richard, and your team, where are you? What communities are you involved in? what do you care about. And how can we start to become involved in those communities so that you see our presence there as beneficial. And hopefully, when we try to do a deal with you, it will help the process of that deal. [0:20:59]

Richard Rodger:  This conversation is really great, Joe, because I’m such a coder; I don’t have words for these things. And with previous guests and previous episodes of this podcast, the word I’ve used for this stuff is vibe. Does the company give off the right vibe for developers? But anyway, you’re making it a little bit more concrete in terms of how to execute on creating a developer vibe, which is really fascinating. [0:21:26]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:21:28] That’s one of the things I’ve learned as well, is that there’s this – do you remember there was that US Supreme Court decision, I think in the 1990s, that became very famous? Where they were asked to rule about whether something was pornography or not, and they came up with that famous quote that was, “I know it when I see it.” And I often think about great developer experience. When you talk to developers; it’s a similar thing. Often when you ask developers to be able to enunciate or very clearly say what a great developer experience is, they either can’t and they end up talking about vibes. [0:22:04]

Richard Rodger:  [0:22:06] There you go. 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:22:08] Or you might talk to five developers and you get seven answers, and there’s no coherent structure there. And one of the things that I take, and one of the most valuable things, is the role and the value that experienced marketing and PR people, even if they’re not from a developer marketing background, can have as part of this process. 

And unearthing, what are the things that we need to do to attract developers, to be able to build a good mindset and a good – things like an MPS or whatever it is with a bunch of developers. And taking the experience of technology people, that innate sense of what good developer experience is, and combining that with people with the experience of unearthing what that is, codifying what that is and then scaling it is what lies at the heart of doing this very successfully. [0:22:56] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:22:57] Yeah. And it does now need to be structured and codified, like you say. We would have come across each other in previous lives where it was – I founded a consulting company and we were doing all this stuff. But it was organic; it was by feel. We knew to do it, but it wasn’t – it was all just- [0:23:21]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:23:21] Which is one of-

Richard Rodger:  [0:23:21] It was all random; it was fun. [0:23:23]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:23:23] Which is one of the reasons why it’s so hard to replicate. Because your experience there – if another business comes along and it’s like, “Richard, please explain to me exactly whatever it is you’ve done.” I’m sure you could do a great job of that, but if they went and did the precise things that you’d done, they probably wouldn’t have been successful. 

Because the company you’re talking about and the work that you do, there’s such a knowledge and a background and an innate sense of what developers want and what developers look for that without that knowledge, the activities that you do as an end result of it aren’t discretely valuable. [0:24:02]

Richard Rodger:  [0:24:03] Yeah. But they are becoming important, and it’s becoming important in terms of professional execution around developer enabled and developer first companies to be able to do that. It’s effectively an essential marketing skill, perhaps. [0:24:19]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:24:20] Absolutely. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:24:21] Or a function of the business, nearly. I’ve another question for you before we wrap up, because I could go on for another hour on this; we might have you back. But how did you end up with these insights and doing the job you’re doing. [0:24:36]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:24:36] My – like many – I’ve got a bunch of different things that I’ve worked on: various large technology companies, consultancies; I’ve done a couple startups myself. But the thing that’s been a constant throughout those is that I’ve built developer tools. That’s – now that could have been I’ve run platform teams at public cloud businesses, where I’ve built the developer tools for other developers at those businesses; I’ve done that a couple of times. I’ve done B2B SaaS businesses, where developer enabled might be a bit of a generous way of describing the things that they did. 

But throughout all of those, this idea of the people who use our tools, the people who interact with them are developers. And that idea of taking that experience and, “What I want in that context? How can I push that forward?” It’s at the heart of it, and I love building products for developers. I think that you get to do that amazing thing which all good product people do, is that is you can build the product that you want yourself. And you can- [0:25:55]

Richard Rodger:  [0:25:55] It’s amazing, isn’t it, to be able to deliver at a time when you can do that. Because rewind a little bit and selling to developers was a dead end. It was – that was no way to make money. [0:26:05] 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:26:06] If we’d gone back 20 years and you and I were a big payments business, and I’d said, “I want to build a product that makes life easier for developers,” we’d have been laughed out of the room. [0:26:16] 

Richard Rodger:  [0:26:17] Yeah, and told, “Get on with it. Work weekends. Get on with it. Whatever.” [0:26:19] 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:26:20] Yeah, it’s like, “Why are they important?” Surely, optimizing for some other person, one of our merchants or one of our customers, is more important. But now, that – it feels like that battle – the battle isn’t won, but we’re making good way on the other side of coming close to defeat. [0:26:38]

Richard Rodger:  [0:26:42] The progress of speaks for itself; doesn’t it? And there’s a lot to take away from how you can accelerate a business. It’s the way it is. [0:26:53]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:26:53] No, I think so. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:26:54] It is, and it is absolutely key. Stripe maybe was the first big name that did it, but – and that has opened the door for others to see how important it is. [0:27:04]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:27:06] Completely so. And I think that now you’re in a place where you can’t be a payments business unless you think about developer experience. It’s that- [0:27:13]

Richard Rodger:  [0:27:13] No, not at all. And I wish it would apply to the rewards business. I’ve had some interactions there with various clients and interaction with their APIs, and oh boy! You might need to kick of the arse on the [inaudible, 0:27:28] side of things. 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:27:30] Banked might be able to solve that problem for you. If you’re doing payments, we do rewards and incentives through our payments. And you literally add a single value and – key and value to an adjacent object that you send us, and as if by magic, you give rewards to people. So, it comes- [0:27:49]

Richard Rodger:  [0:27:49] And off it goes; off it goes. And that’s – I’m not – I don’t want to pick on any specific industry particularly. [0:27:54]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:27:55] I know you don’t. 

Richard Rodger:  [0:27:56] There’s so many – there’s APIs that everybody knows about, like GitHubs or whatever, or Stripe. But then there’s this long tail of APIs that they need to think about the developer love, because they’re too much work to deal with. [0:28:14]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:28:16] Absolutely, absolutely is. [0:28:17]

Richard Rodger:  [0:28:18] And it often needs, as you say, to come from a place of empathy for developers. [0:28:24]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:28:25] It really does; it really does. It really does. Someone one explained this to me, that if you were building tools for carpenters and you sold them blunt chisels, you probably wouldn’t be in business for very long. Payments particularly has been selling people blunt chisels for about 20 years, and frankly, they’ve built extraordinary things with those blunt chisels, but hopefully we can give them some sharp ones in the future. [0:28:51]

Richard Rodger:  [0:28:52] Yes, totally. Long – the old days of having to try and get a merchant account for yourself, my God. You don’t know; even now it’s a lot easier than it used to be. Joe, I gotta have you on again in a couple of months or something, because there’s so much more we could talk about. But this has been super insightful. And your north star metric around developer engagement, that idea, how many people have heard of us already, that is truly insightful. You need to spread the message about that one a little bit, I think. Thank you so much. [0:29:27] 

Joe Pettersson:  [0:29:29] No problem at all, it was a pleasure.

Richard Rodger:  [0:29:30] Wonderful. Take care. Bye-bye. [0:29:31]

Joe Pettersson:  [0:29:32] Bye-bye. 


Richard Rodger:  [0:29:33] You can find the transcript of this podcast and any links mentioned on our podcast page at Subscribe for weekly editions, where we talk to the people who make the developer community work. For even more, read our newsletter. You can subscribe at, or follow our Twitter @voxgig. Thanks for listening. Catch you next time. [0.30.02[