Today Suneera Madhani, founder of small business Fattmerchant, joins ASBN’s Jim Fitzpatrick. They discuss Fattmerchant’s rapid growth in a competitive market and the importance of transparency in your business transactions. Based on Suneera’s experiences, it is such a vital tactic for business growth, yet often overlooked.
JIM: Hi, everyone. I’m Jim Fitzpatrick, thanks for joining us on ASBN. Joining us on ASBN today is Suneera Madhani, the Founder of Fattmerchant, a subscription-based payment processing company located right here in Atlanta.
JIM: Suneera was recently named Payment Source’s Most Influential Woman, and graced the cover of ISO & Agent’s April issue. She is here to discuss how transparency can benefit your small business. Welcome to ASBN.
SUNEERA: Thank you, Jim. Thanks so much for having me today.
JIM: Yeah. For those people that are watching right now, tell us a bit about your company.
SUNEERA: Yes, so our company is called Fattmerchant, and that’s correct-
JIM: Great name.
SUNEERA: It’s F-A-T-T so it stands for Fast Affordable Transaction Technology-
JIM: Oh, okay.
SUNEERA: But, we are a payments company, so we do credit card processing for small businesses, but we do it in a very different way than everyone’s used to.
SUNEERA: My background, I was in the payments industry, literally started ground-up as an agent selling payments door to door, and I hated everything about the industry. Probably, the number one thing I hated most was just a lack of transparency that they had for small businesses.
SUNEERA: It’s such a huge expense for small businesses-
JIM: It is, yeah.
SUNEERA: It’s 5% of their bottom line, yet business owners are being nickled and dimed for all these processing fees.
JIM: That’s right.
SUNEERA: And when I learned that cost was the same for every provider, it didn’t matter who it was, Visa sets the rates every year. As a millennial subscribing to every subscription I could get my hands on, I was like, “Why is this subscription being applied to payments?”
SUNEERA: And so I take the idea back to my old bosses and I said, “Hey, I’ve really got this idea … This is going to be fantastic. I really want you to trust me with it. I’m going to start this in Orlando, just give me this section of the territory and let me prove the business model out to you.”
SUNEERA: Well, that didn’t go so well. I probably knocked on another 12 doors thereafter, and after maybe a dozen, “No’s” I decided to go launch my own payments company, and it the first subscription-based processor; so it’s a flat, monthly subscription, unlimited credit card processing.
SUNEERA: We’re saving business owners 30 to 40% on their fees, and it’s just clear and transparent. You pay the direct cost, and our flat, monthly subscription fee.
JIM: I’m a small business owner. I’m interested, so let’s talk after this show.
SUNEERA: You got it.
JIM: That sounds like a win-win, that’s for sure.
JIM: What benefits do you provide to small business customers that large companies can’t?
SUNEERA: Yes, so I think the first thing we talked about, the transparency element. We’re actually the first payments company that isn’t making money on payment processing.
SUNEERA: We just make our monthly membership and everything kind of bundled into that, but what’s really unique is our technology.
SUNEERA: Small businesses aren’t just taking payments from just the retail store anymore, or countertop terminal, or their point of sales solution, they need invoicing, they need recurrent payments, they need a mobile device, they need to be on-the-go.
SUNEERA: They have an online shopping cart.
SUNEERA: Well, there’s a lot of great solutions for small businesses, and there’s companies that are doing each of those different solutions, but nothing talks to each other.
SUNEERA: If you ask any small business owner today, they’ve got four different merchant accounts. One with Square, one with the bank, one with PayPal, one-
JIM: Yeah, it’s crazy.
SUNEERA: And nothing is consolidated onto a single dashboard.
SUNEERA: As consumers, we are becoming more and more demanding, and so we want to be able to pay however we want, and business owners need to be able to accept that.
SUNEERA: Our technology, we have a platform which is called Omni, and it’s a unified, single dashboard, and however the small business is taking payments today, we can take that payment information, so we can either provide you a solution that’s ours.
SUNEERA: We can replace out your mobile, or your terminal, or your point of sale, or your shopping cart. Or, use what you have and we’ll integrate that back into our platform.
JIM: Very nice.
SUNEERA: Everything comes back onto a single dashboard. The power of data.
JIM: When you say, “merchant” to most small business owners they freeze and they’re like, “I just don’t … I don’t know this area-
JIM: “Just leave everything the way it is”.
JIM: “Because I’m afraid to disrupt anything. I never want to go a day without being able to take credit cards, I don’t want to screw up my accounts,” do you find that to be the case when you talk to small business owners?
SUNEERA: I would say the number one challenge that we have is education.
SUNEERA: I think that people are just afraid of the unknown and we have … We have thousands of customers. We have actually been around for four years. I launched the company in 2014.
JIM: Wow, that’s awesome.
SUNEERA: And we went from zero to two billion in payments.
JIM: My gosh!
SUNEERA: In a matter of three and a half years.
JIM: Very impressive.
SUNEERA: Yes, and the growth has been phenomenal, so we’re not just a tiny payments company anymore. As you know, I just received Most Influential Woman in Payments.
JIM: Yeah, congratulations. That’s phenomenal.
SUNEERA: Thank you. It really is, just to kind of have all the large incumbents who … A lot of them were the nay-sayers, now look back and be our partners, and recognize us as a leader.
SUNEERA: It is amazing.
JIM: It really is, so your company puts a large emphasis on transparency.
JIM: You spoke about it here just a second ago. Explain to us why this is so important for businesses to focus on, and how it can benefit a small company?
SUNEERA: Yeah, I think it’s super important to … I think … just education rights. Understanding what you are receiving is really important, and I think a lot of … As consumers, we want that transparency. We can go online and we do our research before we’re ready to buy.
SUNEERA: We don’t need a sales person anymore to come show us all the whistles and gadgets. We do our own education, and in the payments industry it hasn’t been that way. It’s kind of been the same for the last 20 years, and if you’ve ever seen a merchant services bill, it is probably one of the most confusing-
JIM: Yes, it is.
SUNEERA: Bills that you’ve ever received.
JIM: I have and I agree, right.
SUNEERA: That’s the way that it’s been because they make money on these hidden charges and hidden fees, like the phone industry, and the insurance industry; but now, as you see, in the 21st Century, we’re progressing towards transparency, flat rate, consumers want more.
SUNEERA: And it’s not just transparency on the fees end, you want to have transparency in your business as a partner. You want to be able to call, you want to be able to text, you don’t want to lose service, and you want to have a reliable partner.
SUNEERA: I think there’s transparency on technology, on service, as well as on fees.
JIM: Why does it take so long to get your … As a small business owner, to get your money from the bank? I mean, obviously it’s charged to that credit card, to that consumer that day, but as a merchant sometimes we’re waiting as long as three or four days to get our money.
SUNEERA: Yes. With that merchant is actually next-day funding, and we actually even have fast-access funding, so for those businesses that are very cash-sensitive, such as restaurants or-
SUNEERA: That need to have the funding the same day, so we even have same-day funding for businesses that they can opt-in to.
JIM: That’s a huge plus.
SUNEERA: It is.
JIM: I know I’ve been in my … With starting out in business and you need … You know, you got to make payroll.
JIM: And you’ve got these 20,000 dollars sitting here in Visa and you’re not going to get it for the next couple of days, but tomorrow is pay day, right?
JIM: So little things like that come in handy.
SUNEERA: They do, and another challenge with the card brands is with American Express there are certain businesses like, “We’re not going to take this type of card, or that type of card because funding comes separately, or they’re separate fees,” now you don’t have to worry about anything.
SUNEERA: It’s however you take payments, the way that you want to do business, next day, in the palm of your hands.
JIM: Absolutely. In what ways have you found that transparency in your own business has been beneficial?
SUNEERA: I think … Transparency is actually a core value of Fattmerchant, and the other two is “get shit done”, I don’t know if I can say that, and “best damn experience,” so those are three core values of our company.
SUNEERA: It really just about … for just transparency for our customer. We’re like that with our community, with the people that we’re around, our employees, or team members, and so we’ve been able to have a ton of success and it’s not just …
SUNEERA: You know, I started off solo four years ago, and I needed to be transparent with my team, our goals needed to all be aligned, and we’ve received a little over 10 million dollars in venture funding; transparent with our investors, with our shareholders, so I think it goes across the board, and it’s really benefited us from having the transparency from the top down.
JIM: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Talk to me a little bit … You started the company yourself, how many employees do you now have?
SUNEERA:We are right about 75 team members. We are hiring like crazy.
JIM: In what amount of time?
SUNEERA: In four years, so it’s literally going to be our four-year anniversary in August, so it’s coming up.
SUNEERA: We’re located, our headquarters is in Orlando, but we have a huge expansion project happening right now in Atlanta, so we have many open positions in the payments field, and sales, and underwriting, and account management, I mean-
JIM: Tough employment market right now, isn’t it?
SUNEERA: Talent is-
JIM: With unemployment so low, and everybody holding on to their talent.
JIM: All small business owners are suffering from that right now.
SUNEERA: Yeah, you know, but I think for us the benefit is our culture is amazing at Fattmerchant, and that kind of just exudes through. You can see it from our name, if you go to our website and you learn about our team members, and so I think we have a really …
SUNEERA: We’ve won Best Place to Work time after time-
JIM: Oh, cool.
SUNEERA: In Orlando, and we’re looking to kind of expand our marketplace, so we’re here in Atlanta now, and the Atlanta community has just been so welcoming, we’re so excited to be here, and to create the job opportunity here, as well.
JIM: It’s a great environment. Yeah, it’s a great environment. So what’s next for your business?
SUNEERA: What’s next, so we’ve crossed tons of milestones so far, and it’s just about scale and growth, so we’re just now … Everything’s working the way that we need it to, we’ve proved our skill, and it’s just now about continuing to get to every small business that we can.
SUNEERA: And more integration, so we are looking for more partners. We are partnering with companies like Salesforce and MailChimp, and all the small business tools that a small business is using, because we want to be able to tie back the payments to however they want, and so our expansion is really on the technology sector, in integrations, and just reaching as many business owners that we can and telling them about the amazing transparency, savings, and technology that they can get.
JIM: It sounds very, very exciting. Suneera, I’d love to have you back on ASBN.
JIM: To kind of get a follow up in the next few months because you’re growing at leaps and bounds right in front of us, so we appreciate your time here today, and I know we’ll get some comments and questions from people about merchant.
JIM: They’re probably all running to their merchant bill right now and going, “What is she talking about?” You know.
JIM: “I don’t understand it, but I’d like to understand it more”.
SUNEERA: Well, they can send their information directly to Fattmerchant, so you go to www.fattmerchant.com, that’s F-A-T-T merchant.com.
JIM: Yeah, we’ll have it on the screen.
SUNEERA: Yeah, and anyone can kind of go on there, and they can do savings analysis, we have payments consultants like ready to go. We’re real people, with real answers, so you’re not getting some call center somewhere.
SUNEERA: Give us a call or send us an email, and we’ll be happy to take a look and see how we can help consulting, and make life easier for small business.
JIM: That is awesome. Thanks again for joining us on ASBN, we very much appreciate it and love to have you back in the studio as I said.
SUNEERA: Thank you so much, Jim.