ConnectPay has come a long way.
The company, with its headquarters in Bonita Springs, has grown exponentially since its inception in 2017.
COVID has actually taken advantage of financial technology or fintech business.
With a focus on the off-gate travel and tourism industry, the company’s innovative payment gateway has attracted new interest from the sector due to the pandemic.
The pandemic also ignited a fire under the leadership of the company to diversify its customer base.
Now, the business has its eyes on the international market, with a new infusion of money from foreign investors.
ConnexPay recently announced another $ 20 million capital increase. The latest infusion came from Marquette, a global, modern platform for issuing and processing business payment cards.
Including the last round, ConnexPay has raised $ 35 million in venture capital in less than four years.
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The company’s pending patent technology helps business intermediaries, such as travel agencies, e-commerce operators and ticketing agents, accept payments from customers and then issue one-time single-card card payments to suppliers or retailers of products. or services purchased in a single. platform. Traditionally, these processes have been treated separately.
Brokers can save time and money using ConnexPay technology. Benefits include lower trade fees, automatic payment reconciliation and risk reduction in financial transactions.
“There is no one we know today who is doing what we do,” said Bob Kaufman, CEO and founder of the company.
Rising as investors
Marquette has been a seller since its inception, he said, and has previously invested in ConnexPay, in a smaller amount, along with other partners, in 2019.
“When it came to the desire to raise some money this time, they grew up,” Kaufman said. “They really like our business model, so they did it all round. They are good partners for us.”
The latest funding marks Marqetas corporation’s first investment since its public release in June 2021. As part of the investment, Marquette has a seat on the ConnexPays board of directors.
In a statement, Renata Caine, senior vice president for international strategy and planning at Marquette, said: ConnexPays’ ability to meet COVID-19 vertical travel requirements as their business grows and expands into new verticals is a testament to for their team and technology and were excited about what was in front of this company.
On the other hand, Kaufman said: We have been working with Marqetaas a client since 2018 and we know the value and expertise of the payments they bring to the table, so we were excited about this new investment and what we can achieve with them in our corner.
In late 2019, after launching ConnexPay technology earlier this year, Kaufman recalls talking to his board members about expanding into new markets, but they felt the company needed to stay laser-focused in the travel industry. and multi-billion dollar tourism, with many tracks left. for growth.
This view quickly changed with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, ConnexPay saw more refunds than bookings processed through its multi-month payment system, Kaufman said.
“So the revenue was literally negative because you get back the money you earned,” he said.
Investing in business
In tough times, ConnexPay continued to grow its business, with the help of a $ 6 million private investment, not taking time off work, Kaufman said.
The company invested in its technology and sales and brought in new customers, in different sectors, he said.
“We’ve created more new clients in the last 12 months than we’ve had in our history,” Kaufman said.
With the recovery of the travel industry, that part of the company’s business, which is growing again, was also recovered.
“Travel is still the majority of our customers today and will be for the foreseeable future,” Kaufman said. “We are certainly not giving up traveling in any way.”
With the pandemic, the benefit of its technology became more apparent, as a way to protect travel payments, Kaufman said.
“What was bad in the short run turned out to be a blessing for us in the long run,” he said.
The closure of eBookIt.com is a prime example of what can happen when brokers do not immediately go over customer payments, instead of using the money for other purposes, Kaufman said. When the company suddenly closed, it left customers dependent, canceling their bookings and not issuing any refunds, he noted.
ConnexPay’s target customer is one that processes at least $ 5 million in payments annually. There are about 70 clients.
The focus has been on customer quality, rather than quantity, Kaufman said.
As it grows, ConnexPaynow has about 40 employees, working from its offices in Florida, Georgia and Minnesota, as well as remotely.
“We are encouraging you to enter the office whenever possible,” Kaufman said. “It helps. Personally, I think you should have that social interaction.”
International enlargement is unfolding
As for the international expansion of the company, it has hired the first employee in Europe, with plans to launch its product there later this year.
Currently, the company is adding four to six new customers a month, and Kaufman said he wants to keep growing at a manageable pace, rather than focusing on numbers.
“Some companies fail because they try to grow too fast,” he said. “Like everyone, we want to have good growth, but also growth where we can continue to provide the best service in the classroom.”
Asked if the company was still making money, Kaufman said he celebrated his first lucrative month in November last year.
“Surprisingly, that’s not the goal,” he said. “The goal is to keep growing.”
So at the moment, investing in business takes precedence over making money.
“We expect several nonprofit months here in 2022,” Kaufman said. “But that’s by design.”
He noted that even tech giant Amazon lost money in the early years.
One of ConnexPay’s earliest capital investments came from a local group, under the umbrella of the Tamiami Angel Fund.
Through the Tamiami Angel Fund III, members initially invested a total of $ 355,000 in ConnexPay as part of a larger round of financing in 2018, which attracted significant capital from a small syndicate of professional investors, including BIP Capital in Atlanta.
This is the first money the startup has received from outside sources other than friends and family.
At the time, the technology was not yet in use, but the company had corporate clients on hold and an emerging pilot with several potential clients.
Local investors offer assistance
Tamiami Angel Fund investors, who are successful entrepreneurs and executives, have provided ConnexPay with assistance, including assistance with networking and employee recruitment.
Timothy Cartwright, chairman of Tamiami Angel Funds, said the third fund actually invested in ConnexPay twice, reaching $ 568,000.
“What stood out about the company was that it was a clearly identified problem that they were solving,” he said.
The business had great success, increasing the profitability of online travel agents until COVID was hit, Cartwright said, but it recovered quickly and even stronger.
The latest round of financing from Marquette, with a market capitalization or net worth of more than $ 8 billion, he said, is a testament to ConnexPay’s strength and success in navigating difficult times.
“This new investment will allow them to internationalize their software, so they can do business in different languages and process payments in different languages,” Cartwright said. “Most importantly, so that they can expand to Europe and the Far East and other countries.”
Of all the companies to which the Tamiami Angels Funds have put their money, he said, ConnexPay brought the greatest concern when the COVID-19 outbreak reached pandemic status, however it withdrew in high colors.
It now stands among the investments with the greatest promise, he said.
“We are very excited about the potential results with ConnexPay,” Cartwright said. “Fintech is one of the hottest sectors at the moment.”
The company expects to increase its revenue by five times this year.
With tremendous momentum, it currently has a high projected growth trajectory, predicting 5x revenue growth in 2022.
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