Written by Devon Tivona on April 7
Harper Reed's a guy who loves big problems.
When he was CTO at Threadless, he helped scale the company to one of the most recognizable names in online apparel. Then, he was recruited to be the Obama campaign’s Chief Technology Officer, where he assembled some of the best minds in tech to envision how a 21st century presidential campaign was won.
Today, Harper is the Director of Software Development at Paypal after his company, Modest, was acquired in 2015.
Harper’s career has centered around building technology and understanding how people interact with it. He’s a technologist and engineer at his core, but he’s also known for hacking on organizations to make them highly effective.
“It’s not just figuring out how to build a product, but how that product scales. How you get people to work together or communicate best.”
Those are the problems that Harper loves to break apart so he can build a solution. Harper now spends “a boatload of time traveling and doing weird sh*t.” His life has become full of “strange trips in strange places.” He’s frequently taking 24-72 hour business trips all over the world.
210,000 miles (and counting)
Last year Harper racked up over 210,000 miles on United. This volume of travel can put a strain on a person, their family, and their career.
As the miles ticked up, he needed a solution for the pressure that his regular travel created. He needed to be able to focus on the important things in life (and not change fees, cancelations, and check out times).
That's when Harper started using Pana.
“Pana replaces work but it replaces work in a really positive way. There’s a lot of this work that’s time and waiting and what not.” Pana takes care of that for him.
Time to iterate and discover
For someone that has to plan travel weeks in advance, Harper never prognosticates.
“If you’re so stuck on what the future is, you don’t give yourself time to iterate and discover.”
Harper tends to explore options in the moment instead of planning out every detail of his life. This gives him the space to be curious and creative.
Because of this, he's seen the most value from Pana's easy communication and personalization. Or, what he calls, the team's “ad-hoc-ness.”
For example, if he needs to add additional friends to a restaurant reservation, Harper sends a 10-second message to Pana and, within a minute, he gets a simple “All set for 5!” response. No back and forth. No questions. Just what he wants, when he wants it.
For Harper, hundreds of little timesavers like this really add up.
A local gem
There's a lot of trust with Pana. He knows that whatever he needs, his team will work to get him a solution. Where Harper sees this trust the most is through restaurant recommendations.
When he asks Pana for dinner options, for example, his team always proactively includes restaurants that serve vegetarian dishes. Because of Harper's preferences and previous reservations, Pana knows he always wants these included.
Or, when he was last in San Jose, he was looking for a great Japanese restaurant to try. He messaged his Pana team with the request and, within minutes, they sent back options. He selected one and it was perfect.
Afterward, he was talking to a Japanese friend who lives in San Jose and mentioned the restaurant. His friend was surprised that Pana knew about the place and told Harper it's one of the locals' hidden gems.
Pana knows Harper and how he likes to travel and spend his time. He knows that his Pana team will send him the best possible options for him.
That's where the magic is
“Pana’s a travel agent. But not that weird kind that sends you flyers in the mail and suggests you go on cruises.”
Harper doesn’t need a tour suggested when he's traveling. He needs someone to be there for to support him so that he can be fully present.
Pana does this for him because they work in the way that he does, through a constant, quick feedback loop. Pana also gives him the opportunity to interact with someone who is as responsive as he wants them to be in that moment.
Pana helps Harper create the space that he needs to, well, be Harper.