I admit it-- I am a bit of a control freak. But aren't most startup founders? I love the ability to choose my own adventure, and to control (or at least greatly influence) the outcome of my business.
Our Startup of the Week provides control of a different type: the ability to securely connect your payment platforms (Stripe, PayPal, etc) and to get complete transaction management, reporting, and analytics.
Control is kicking a** and taking names. Read on to find out more.
Startup #13: Control
In just one sentence, what is your company offering/what do you do?
Control is a B2B management platform for the payments industry.
Briefly, what makes you unique / different / special?
The payment processing industry is highly saturated and fragmented, yet all the payment platforms are all virtually indistinguishable from each other and resort to competing on price. We build value-add tools such as mobile dashboards, analytics, fraud management and more- tools that can plug into any payment platform stack and add more distinctive value to their business users. For example, we are the #1 Android and iOS app for Stripe merchants.
What is the one thing you love the most about running a startup?
I love that I can develop a company that is in a very conservative industry – financial services – yet design a culture that isn’t defined by the regular 9-5, suits-and-ties endemic in that culture.
I believe entrepreneurship is vital to a healthy economy; it creates employment and bolsters tax contributions for broader social programming, which, as a Canadian, is important to me. In the software industry, we create value through the development of innovative business models and intellectual property. It’s an exciting space to be involved in in the entrepreneurial value chain.
What is the hardest or most surprising part of running a startup?
It is getting more challenging to raise venture financing, and it is even harder the further north of the Valley you go (we are based out of Vancouver, BC). But I have remained resilient; I kept pitching, kept attending every event, every meeting, and gave each one 100% until I started getting interest. I always remind myself: “How many bad, bit-part auditions did Robert DeNiro or Meryl Streep have to attend before they got a break?”. Probably hundreds.
Once you get a few good investor/adviser backers, things start changing for you very quickly. That’s where we are now.
Do you have any success stories (big or small) you would like to share?
I think getting 2 MVPs to market in under two months, via sheer determination, was instrumental in helping us define many facets of our strategy and avoid many mistakes early on. Becoming a Stripe partner was a big win, and our traction in both Google Play and Apple App store has been huge. Getting Ryan Holmes on board as an advisor and investor has been the high point for me, but the awesome feedback we get from our customers every day truly makes us feel successful.
How, if in any way, has Foundersuite helped your company?
I heard an expression recently I love-- “vertical SaaS” -- which are products geared towards a very specific niche or use case. We consider ourselves somewhat of a vertical SaaS business in that we are narrowly focused on payments management, which I believe should be at the center of any business, not an add-on or afterthought. I love how Foundersuite similarly serves a very specific function for me, helping me to manage my investor relationships and workflows.
Finally, what is your best tip, hack, or piece of advice for entrepreneurs?
You really need to pursue a startup that you can be obsessively passionate about, and then even the struggles, trials, and tribulations won’t be that bad when you are immersed in something you love. I absolutely love the payments business; I read and think about it all day. I even wrote my MBA thesis on “Launching Mobile Fintech Apps in Emerging Markets.'’ Running a startup is a grind for sure, so make sure you are grinding away in a industry or subject matter you enjoy, and every day will awesome.