One of the ten Deloitte Rising Stars in 2015, more than 8.000 clients and now the proud main sponsor of Groningen’s soccer team. In 2016, over 1 billion euros worth of invoices were paid through their credit management platform. Payt makes sure company invoices get paid faster, more efficiently and fully automated, in the friendliest and easiest way possible.
Payt was founded in 2013, initially as an affordable alternative to collection agencies for companies. “But there’s always an underlying reason if an invoice isn’t paid”, says Aziz Al-Harazi, one of the five founders. “And debt collection is just a really small part of the whole picture, so we wanted to build an automated platform around it, where it’s really easy to automatically send invoices and reminders (in accordance with the customers desired reminder schedule), let people communicate and create settlements and payment plans.”
“You don’t want reminders and payments to get in the way of good business relations between people”, Aziz continues. “Debt collection is a last resort and also something that can be avoided if you make paying and communication as easy as possible”.
The new sponsor of FC Groningen
Earlier this month, soccer team FC Groningen announced Payt would replace Essent as their new main sponsor. A surprise for many, not in the least for Payt. “It was just amazing when they contacted us”, co-founder Merijn Stapert explains. “But we were also very surprised and a little shocked initially, to be honest. We’re big fans and we’ve been a sponsor since we started Payt, but main sponsor? That was a really big thing for us and also a pretty big step.”
“If someone told me our company would be the main sponsor of FC Groningen a couple of years ago, I would have told that person to go see a shrink!” Aziz adds jokingly. “It may look easy now, but it was a lot of hard, but rewarding work these past couple of years.”
“My hair is also a little grayer now than it was a few years ago”, Merijn jokes. “But that’s the great thing about being an entrepreneur, working really hard on something you’re passionate about. And to see all that hard work pay off, is amazing and really rewarding. Seeing you’ve built something that can really make a difference for people, that it works and also makes people enthusiastic ambassadors of your platform, makes me look back with a lot of pride.”
One of their first customers was the Alfa College in Groningen. “I guess you can say they were really our launching customer”. Aziz explains. “We were initially handling the payment collection, but when you’re dealing with students, that’s a situation you want to avoid, because nobody benefits from that situation. So they asked us if we could come up with a method to make payments and reminders easier, and also automating the whole process.”
“And that’s essentially what our platform became all about”, Aziz continues. “Not just by making it easier to get invoices paid faster, but also to give you control over the process and the way you communicate and make that part of your whole business process and identity. If a company hires you, you do a great job and you make it really easy and friendly to pay the invoice, that just makes it all the more impressive doing business with you. And if something does go wrong with the payment, we want you to be able to create settlements, payment plans and communicate directly, all through one platform.”
From freight train to TGV: all about trust
Getting the first big companies to use their platform though, proved to be difficult in the beginning. “Nobody wants to be the first”, Merijn explains. “But that’s very understandable, because we offered something totally new and there’s a lot of sensitive information involved. It’s all about trust, making sure that our platform works the way it should, that it’s also safe to use and convincing people of that.”
“It’s like a freight train”, Aziz adds. It starts slow, but once more companies sign on and you gain momentum, the speed also picks up more and more. It’s funny, because the more people using the platform, the more people sign on. We get new customers through our existing customers, because they’re impressed with the invoicing process. For example, Voys was one of our earlier customers, and when their customers saw how Voys’ invoicing was handled, the were like: ‘Hey, that would be great for us too!’”
The pace has certainly picked up for Payt, and that freight train is moving faster and faster. Last year over a billion euros worth of invoices were paid through the platform and the company is also thinking about taking things to an international level, according to Merijn: “Our platform is already multi-lingual and we’re already taking the first steps, so I expect we’ll start rolling things out to the neighbouring countries.”
“But it’s important to note that all of this is really a team effort”, Aziz stresses. “It wouldn’t have been possible without all the great people working here with us. And the faster we grow, the more important our whole team becomes, so we also want to involve everyone in the process and decision making, in an open way.” he continues. “We have a really open culture where everyone gets the opportunity to become shareholder after one year. Almost everyone in our team is a shareholder, which is really great, because that means everyone here benefits from our successes.”