Episode 9: Unifying the World with a Single API: Shensi Ding of Merge

Startup Growth Stories

Oct 28 2022 • 26 mins

About This Episode:

Today I’m joined by Shensi Ding, Co-Founder of Merge, a unified API that allows companies to add hundreds of integrations to their apps.

Merge is a single programming interface for product development that enables the syncing of data from multiple third-party platforms. Merge was founded and built so developers could integrate fast, and integrate once. They then handle the full integrations lifecycle - from an easy initial build to hand-held end-user onboarding, to fully managed maintenance of all of those integrations. Merge currently covers Human Resource Information System (HRIS), Payroll, Applicant Tracking System (ATS), accounting, ticketing, and CRM integrations.

Shensi met her co-founder Gil as a freshman in college, but starting a business with him did not come up until many years later when they both worked at startups that were having issues with this kind of functionality. Join us for a discussion about how the idea for Merge came about, and how Shensi and Gil researched, fundraised, and hired their core team.We’ll hear about how Merge curates its hires with extreme care, because as Shensi puts it, people don’t change, but we can choose who we bring into our company.A company, by the way, that requires five days a week, in person, in their offices.Shensi believes that this in itself weeds out a lot of applicants looking to ‘coast’ or who don’t really “care.”

Startup Growth Stories is hosted by Don Muir, CEO and Co-Founder of Arc Technologies. In each weekly episode of this podcast, you’ll hear from first-time, bootstrapped, and unicorn founders about how they secured their first customers, convinced their first employees to join and grew their business. Founders and industry insiders share their greatest successes (and failures) and the things they learned along the way. In the final minutes of each episode, guests get vulnerable - they share very personal stories about the impact of their work on their well-being, their relationships, and their families.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

[00:50] Who is Shensi Ding?

[01:34] Gil and she knew each other since freshman year of college at Columbia - they both identified the same issues - could they create a solution for all companies to use?

[03:19] Shensi thought she was going to be a computer engineer and did not consider becoming a founder until she identified this problem

[03:55] Combining her finance background with computer science later paid off

[05:32] There was no ‘a-ha’ moment for Merge, but a cumulation of data and pain points to be addressed

[07:50] Doing your research and due diligence cuts your timeline for building your startup

[08:38] Merge hears from it’s customers when it’s time to add new features, it’s a collaborative development

[09:19] Shensi’s day to day - very high level now, where previously it was all sales.

[11:05] Finding gaps in staff – constantly educate yourself and communicate with your team

[11:52] Recruiting- The most important thing, the number one way to curate your culture, is being very careful, hiring only very kind good people who are also top performers

[13:20] What to look for in new hires – they need to care

[14:23] Weeding out candidates – a lot fall away naturally when you require 100% in person 5 days a week in SF and NYC. Out of a sea of