Inside Payhawk: Happy 2nd Birthday! Here is how things are shaping

We are celebrating Payhawk’s 2nd birthday, but it feels like ages since our first day. We started in the hot summer of 2018 with just 2 employees and the idea to turn business spending on its head while becoming the biggest bank without holding a single dollar in the process. Easy, right?

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by Hristo Borisov 02 Jul 2020

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Two years later, we are a strong team of 21 supporting customers from 16 countries, serving thousands of cardholders across Europe and having more than 11 like-minded investors from 6 countries that have supported us with more than €3.7m. We learned a thing or two about fundraising, fintech, culture, and pricing. Read more about our journey so far with some of the key lessons we are happy to share with you on building a scalable and growing fintech product.

 

Lesson 1: You are what you eat (earn)

 

Instead of building yet another Neobank, we decided to be a SaaS company or a Techfin instead of Fintech as David Birch from Forbes put it nicely. We are monetizing mainly from subscriptions rather than relying solely on revenue from interchange, FX markup, card fees, and a soup of other terms you can find in our Fintech Glossary.

 

We are building an enterprise-grade SaaS spend platform that incorporates the best financial services with the best technology with the best customer experience. We want financial leaders and business owners across Europe to find in Payhawk a strong partner, backed by strong and transparent unit economics, that is here for the long-term. Where financial services are set up in a transparent and efficient way to keep you from overspending on fees and exchange rates. Where you can find robust and scalable software to trust your business on. Where customer support is there when you need it or knows that you have a problem before you contact it. 

 

To prove our model, the likes of Penta, Revolut and other fintech companies are slowly moving away from free plans. Building a sustainable business on cutting edge technology and providing excellent customer support comes with a price tag.

 

Lesson 2: Don’t hire Customer Success, make everybody Customer Success

 

Everybody at Payhawk has two titles. Customer Success and something else. We have a special Slack channel called #war where customer issues are reported either by engineers, who monitor live errors from Stackdrive or from anybody on the team manually. Anything posted in the #war channel is the highest priority for our [rotating firefighting] engineering pod.

 

Channel purpose

 

We also set up what we call “proactive customer support” for our Enterprise clients. If an engineer on the team notices a live error, we are contacting the customer to explain the reasons for that and what we are doing to resolve the issue. It’s nothing like customers have experienced before, and we are happy to be pushing the envelope on customer experience.

 

Lesson 3: The right investors should feel like partners

 

We partnered with Earlybird, one of the most successful venture capital firms in Europe with over €1 billion under management, seven IPOs, and companies like N26 and UiPath in its portfolio. We brought Keith Robinson, CSO at Sage Group, and Mark Antipof ex-Visa Chief Commercial Officer as angel investors along with people like Perry Blacher, Mark Ransford, Nedelcho Spassov, Stanimir Vassilev and many others.

 

One of the best lessons we learned during our Seed fundraising was to really focus on investors that a) feel like partners, b) understand your strategy, c) are obsessed with customers and markets rather than competitors and rounds, and d) can challenge you constantly to achieve your best.

 

Lesson 4: Culture is not a guideline or a poster

 

Culture is a way of working together toward common goals that have been followed so frequently and so successfully that people don’t even think about trying to do things another way. If a culture has formed, people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful.

 

Company culture means something different to every organization. To Payhawk, it’s the way we work and problem-solve together. Our social norms are to own things, take responsibility, seek feedback, provide feedback, stand constructive critique, and speak your mind. When we discuss plans and strategy there is no hierarchy – just good ideas and opportunities. These are the traits we look for people during our interviews.

 

Happy Birthday Team. For many more to come!

 

And yes, we are hiring 🙂

 

Written by Hristo Borisov

July 2, 2020

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