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How Culture Drives Innovation at Navan Expense

How Culture Drives Innovation at Navan Expense

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Yuval Refua

9 Nov 2023
4 minute read
Navan VP Product Yuval Refua on How Culture Drives Innovation

The Navan Expense team recently released 10 features in 10 days, which, while impressive, is more than a showcase of our technical prowess — it’s a testament to the intricate dance between culture and strategy that fuels our momentum.

Innovation at this scale starts with a culture of ownership and collaboration. Culture is the invisible thread holding our products, growth, and team members together at Navan. 

Regardless of their title or tenure, every individual is an intrinsic part of our team and plays a substantial role in our mission. This belief is evident in all our workflows. Our weekly touchpoints — in which everyone, irrespective of rank, has a voice — symbolize this inclusive philosophy. Every team member is as much an owner of the product as anyone else. 

This strong foundation and mutual respect for feedback are core to our momentum. These values ensure that innovation doesn’t get trapped in hierarchical bottlenecks but bubbles up organically and that as the expense organization grows — it now has more than 200 individuals — we maintain the nimbleness and enthusiasm of a startup. 

Redefining Team Structures

This September was not the first time we’ve released multiple features quickly, and it won’t be the last. Efforts like these require a unique approach, and what sets ours apart is the structure of our teams, which are mutually exclusive yet collectively exhaustive. 

We’ve tailored teams to address the unique needs of each user segment, whether it’s an employee on the go, a diligent accountant, or a tax specialist. This structure ensures that each unit is empowered with the resources and skills necessary for holistic product development, further accelerating our innovation pace.

This user-centric approach means each team can operate independently, which eliminates dependencies on other teams. Every team has the resources and skill set to address their users’ needs independently. No one is waiting on someone else to complete a task; everyone has the autonomy and talent to execute their solutions. 

With these well-defined and cohesive teams, we allocate engineers effectively, minimize redundancy, and achieve faster feature releases without wasting resources.

Innovation: A Continuous, Collaborative Effort

Of course, challenges are inevitable — especially in a hyper-growth startup like Navan. What sets us apart is our commitment to swift, collaborative resolution. For roadmaps, we use a simple, accessible spreadsheet to create complete transparency into our priorities. Using this system, we weigh urgent issues against existing priorities and decide how to move forward to keep resource allocation fluid.

In our quarterly prioritization meetings, each team gets around 45 minutes to align around potential and current projects on our roadmaps. Our transparent process means everyone knows where their projects stand and where our emphasis is before we start. It sets the stage for productive discussions and crystallizes our direction.

Clients: Partners in Our Journey

Our iterative process extends beyond our internal teams. Navan customers, who span every kind of market, are invaluable co-travelers in our journey. We’re indebted to those who dedicate time to share their experiences with our product. These insights and feedback tools, like NPS and CSAT, help us remain sharply attuned to user needs.

When it comes to addressing problems, my approach is straightforward: tackle them head-on. If a user reports an issue, we don’t engage in prolonged analysis; we assume others might face the same problem and act immediately. 

Our ethos is one of proactive responsibility and swift action. When developers see a potential code-related issue in the feedback and identify it as a bug, they often immediately resolve it without waiting for explicit directives.

A Powerful Pairing of Expertise and Experimentation

All these factors have created a unique combination of strengths. First, we bring years of experience in the fintech sector and several patents to the table and have contributed significantly to this rapidly growing industry. Second, we watch for industry developments and actively share insights. Occasionally, external innovations inspire solutions to long-standing challenges, and thanks to our agile development process, we can jump on them quickly. 

Our mission is twofold: Stay abreast of the latest trends while judiciously filtering out the noise to remain nimble and focused in our development pursuits.

A Symphony of Culture and Strategy

The Navan Expense journey is not merely about rapid growth or innovation. It’s about the intersection of culture and strategy and what happens when teams work with one another and their customers to create harmonious, user-centric products. 

As we forge ahead, this blend of shared ownership and collaboration will continue positioning Navan Expense as the market’s most advanced and user-friendly expense management and payments tool. 

Discover Navan Expense in Action

You’ve just delved deep into the philosophy behind Navan Expense — our commitment to innovation, collaborative culture, and unyielding pursuit of excellence. But words can only convey so much. How about experiencing it firsthand?

Join us for a personalized demo and witness the meticulous design, cutting-edge features, and unparalleled user experience that sets Navan Expense apart. Or, if you’re ready to elevate your expense management journey, start with Navan Expense now.

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