Business Leader talks to Apexx Global founder Rodney Bain about disruption, fundraising and scaling globally.
Not many kids dream about working in the payments industry. How did you end up the founder of Apexx Global?
Yes, you don’t dream as a kid to work in the payments sector, but I started my business career with a business called yoyoWallet and this gave me a taste for the industry. Following this, I worked for EVO Payments, which is the acquiring arm of Deutsche Bank – providing payment and merchant services.
In this role, it was frustrating to see how slow it was for the big banks to keep up with the diversity and change that was happening in the e-commerce space as it became more globalised. You were seeing e-commerce businesses launching in ten countries at the same time and the banks were not prepared for this type of growth.
Out of frustration at not being able to support those types of clients, I came up with the concept of Apexx Global.
And what does Apexx Global do?
What we do is we support enterprise business that operate globally by helping them process transactions in what region or locality the need to, with the right payment methods. This saves them time and money – and cross border fees – and helps maximises their acceptance rate.
The business started in 2016 and we have big ambitions for Apexx. We just wanted to solve the problem for high-growth enterprise businesses that operate globally and we have seen the pain of payments from the retailer perspective and the banking side, so we understand the journey and how to solve the merchants’ problems.
What would you say makes Apexx different?
We are focused on merchant issues and not payment industry problems, which means that we deliver a merchant first solution, and we are also completely independent to the rest of the industry and not associated with one acquiring bank; or we do not just work with Barclaycard for example.
We have no limitation on which payment method that people can use, and this is unique, and we are completely global whereas most businesses in this space focus on a particular region.
From a payment delivery standpoint, weI do not care if it is, Cards, Crypto or Open Banking that the merchant wants to accept, and this makes us differentunique.
To fuel growth in the business, you have undergone a SEED funding round and a Series A funding round? Can you talk us though how you found this process?
These are two very different methods of funding because at the SEED funding stage you’re looking to get whatever you can, and people are buying into a vision and the leadership.
Whereas a Series A funding round is much more about demonstrating your proof points and how you are primed to grow. It is about showing you have a clear strategy.
Series A is a tough round as you do not have enough historical data as business to project forward, but you still need to money to funding your ambitions in the business. We are now looking at Series B funding and building a model of where we will be in five years.
Will this next funding round take you through to five years?
I will raise again in two years, after the Series B is closed. We are in a very competitive industry and there are examples of businesses raising much more at a much earlier stage.
Fundraising must be a job in itself – as the business grows is this something you feel you will always be involved in?
I would like to crack on managing my business and not raising funds and you can outsource this function when you are looking at larger deals, but what I would say is that I do see a benefit to being involved in the raise.
We always walk away with a clearer vision and strategy. Things can get very messy for a founder and you are only thinking about the six inches in front of your face, and you can lose track; but raising funding can help to provide that focus as it gives the business a health check.
So, are you looking to build an empire or exit within a certain number of years?
I am looking to build an empire for sure. We have found a huge gap in the market and I love my enterprise customers as their problems are complex and global and they operate in multiple different verticals such as retail, travel, and finance.
I see such a clear direction for a multi-national, multi-billion-pound business; and I want to be at the helm for as long as I can.
You opened an office in India – can you tell us why?
Initially it was more for development and it allowed us to access high-quality talent and grow faster. There is stigma that because it is cheaper in India to hire resource you receive a lower quality of work, but I fundamentally disagree with that.
Our India office is only getting bigger, and we also recently opened in Germany too. We have 75 employees in in total and I believe we will be at 190 by 2022.
You mentioned you operate in the travel and retail sector – do you think they’ll recover quickly?
Well e-commerce retail has soared and after Covid-19 are you going to travel, or do you know somebody that is? The answer is likely yes. If you are in the hotel, booking or aviation space and you survive this period then you are going to thrive when the world opens back up.
You are also seeing those with the strongest balance sheets buying up competitors and these are the companies to really watch.
The aim is to grow to 190 staff by 2022 – do you find it easy to recruit the talent you need?
No, I think there is a lot of quality talent but with London being a FinTech hub it is very competitive and expensive and to get people you want. You could give me 100 million pounds today and we would not be able to grow much faster than we are due to difficulties finding talent.
We must have top talent and it is better for us to have one good person, compared to ten average ones.
To conclude Rodney, what is the vision for Apexx?
It is to be the last integration you will ever need and the last time you must integrate to a payment platform. We are merchant centric too. Some providers can only show their data but we have a real advantage of being able to show everybody’s data so merchants can make decisions on data and not fancy salesman promising the world.