Xeni is a B2B2C travel selling engine for travel clubs, influencers, and travel agents looking to monetize their audiences. It brings travel into the Web 3.0 economy as it allows for payment for travel in crypto, as well as credit and debit. Its blockchain-based infrastructure powers secure booking records storage, transparent transaction information to minimize invoicing disputes, and instant commissions settlement.
President and Co-founder, Rachel Obenshain, has a background in finance. In Xeni, she is responsible for leading the company’s efforts in expanding its user base and developing partnerships with investors and other businesses.
At Xeni, the previous system they used for managing their captables was too complex for what they needed to do, making it a pain point within the company. Obenshain explains, “We were trying to do something reasonably straightforward, which was just to know who our investors were and how much they had given us. How much did they own? We have SAFE notes, we would like to know what would the dilution looked like if they converted? And that theoretically should be a simple question to answer, but it never was.”
The company found Cake and quickly realized how some things really don’t have to be that complicated. Obenshain says,
“It's really, really simple. [It’s an] easy-to-use interface and targeted exactly to who my company is… It's very easy to find everything. For example, what happens if my SAFE notes convert? You just hit the button and it shows you. That's so great! It's so easy. Before it was very, very complicated to do and it inevitably went wrong and I never felt confident I had the right answer. I come from a career in finance, right? So for other people, I can't even imagine how much worse it would be. I love the simplicity and I really appreciate that.”
Apart from making things easier for them, using Cake has been more cost efficient for Xeni. Obenshain says, “We spent thousands and thousands of dollars on lawyers to keep all this information current in the last system and that was just on top of how much it already costs for just the subscription of the last system. But it's so much easier to do it on Cake that I don't always need that, so that's really helpful.”
Travel is global. With this, it makes sense for Xeni to have an international team. And as a team grows, founders have to make ways to make them feel valued. Obenshain says, “I would think that a lot of startups engaged in development are going to have to be doing that [issuing options] because…our product is global. And all those people have to be incentivized.”
Atkins agrees, “It was important to you to have the whole team, no matter where they were, incentivized, engaged, and retained correctly. We have the view that so much of the value of your startup in the first few years is within the people because the brand is growing, the product is improving, everything is just still so new. So to be able to engage and retain your team, especially across borders, it's such an important element.”
Hiring full time employees outside of the USA is very difficult for a startup without global HR capabilities; but this hasn’t stopped Xeni from creating an international team that’s properly treated and incentivized. Their non-employees overseas are provided stock options that they can easily access on Cake.
Other standouts that Obenshain likes about Cake? Managing cap tables and constructive criticism! She says, “It's really just been how simple it is to see the information that I'm looking for. I have a couple of things I want to see and it's really easy to find them and I'm very happy about that. And also just how open [you are] when there have been things where I say, ‘You know what, this could be better,’ and I've written it to you. [You’ve] been, ‘I think that's that's great insight, we're going to work on that.’”
This March it’s all about the ladies! In celebration of International Women’s Month, we asked Obenshain if she had any advice for women founders. She says, “The thing about building a company is that people really want great talent and they want people who are committed, excited, hardworking, and ready to be there. And so if you're that, it really doesn't matter if you're male or female… Any industry like that where what people are really passionate about…is the business and the opportunities…you can fit right in.”
Atkins believes, “Things aren’t going to change unless you get involved.” For him it helps to close the gap between male and female relationships to create stronger connections within the industry.
When asked how she promotes a creative healthy lifestyle, Obenshain likes to pick up new skills. She says, “I do yoga multiple times a week and I started taking karate this year. It's really about learning a new skill. It would be similar to learning to swing dance or samba or something, right? You're learning a whole series of coordinated moves. It's good brain food as well as exercise.”