February 26, 2020: Leaders in Payments Podcast
Garima Shah, President of Biller Genie, sat down with Leaders in Payments Podcast host Greg Myers to discuss Biller Genie, her journey within the payments business, and the future of the industry as a whole.
Listen here or read the transcript below.
Greg: Hi, I am your host, Greg Myers, and this is episode six of the Leaders in Payments podcast featuring Garima Shaw, the President of Biller Genie. In this episode, Garima and I talk about her journey to becoming the President of Biller Genie and her passion for helping and motivating people in the payment space as well as her passion for dance. Garima and I also talk about Biller Genie and how they have automated the sending of invoices and reminders, providing invoice tracking and ultimately help their clients get paid faster. Garima also provides some great advice to those just starting their careers in the payments industry. So let’s get started.
Hi Garima, thank you for being here and welcome to the Leaders in Payments podcast.
Garima: Thanks so much for having me, Greg. I’m excited to be here.
Greg: Great. Tell our audience a little bit about yourself, where you grew up, where you went to school, where you currently live, a few things like that.
Garima: Sure. Well, I currently live in Orlando and I’ve lived and resided in Florida most of my life. I’m not so fond of cold weather, although I was born in England and I went to school up in Boston. I went to Boston University that have been in Florida for most of my life, most of my career.
Greg: Okay. Let’s talk about the company a little bit. What exactly does Biller Genie do?
Garima: Sure, so Biller Genie, we say it’s an automated accounts receivable and e-invoicing platform, but that’s kind of a lot of words and a lot of times that doesn’t mean a whole lot to people, but at the end of the day it helps merchants get paid faster on any outstanding invoices or it helps them stay current on their accounts receivable process. It makes them more efficient and it helps their relationship between themselves and their consumers who are paying them for their services.
Greg: Okay. What type of merchants do you target? Mostly,
Garima: So it’s almost easier to answer that question with who we don’t work with. We’re not a great solution for retail, restaurant, hospitality, e-commerce. I mean, think about any service provider that you may have or anybody that you get an invoice or a bill from. So doctors, lawyers, accountants, B2B service space, even field technicians, HVAC, that kind of thing. That’s really where our sweet spot is. And it was interesting to me before joining Biller Genie, I didn’t really know what a big problem this was for merchants, but I found out that 90% of businesses today still process invoices completely manually. They create them manually and they stuff envelopes or they send an email and then they follow up with them and handle the reminders themselves. And it’s kind of a big undertaking. And that’s why they have such large accounts receivable departments or billers or controllers or sometimes the owner of the company themselves that may be a wholesaler for tee shirts, while he’s making t-shirts, he’s also sending out some invoices because he has some unpaid collectibles.
Greg: Would you say most of them are smaller or mid-sized companies?
Garima: I think it depends on definition of small and mid-size. Our average client is about a hundred thousand dollars a month, it’s not just credit card -it could be ACH or Apple Pay, but it’s about a $100,000 a month in invoicing is what we see.
Greg: Tell us at least what you can around the size of the company, maybe any numbers that you can divulge, number of employees or things like that?
Garima: Sure, sure. No, we’re a small company. We’re about 17-18 employees right now. We have our own development team in house, which is about half of those employees and it started as an acquisition tool for an ISO and that’s really where it came from because that ISO, which is my partner’s, Tom, when he had Sky Bank, he was utilizing Biller Genie to get clients more in the B2B space and really helping them solve their issue around this accounts receivable and being more than just a payments plugin. It’s not like some of these other payments plugins that you see that just allows the payments to be connected to the accounting software. It actually helps with the entire accounts receivable, the dunning process, and the reminders along with that to make sure that those receivables get collected. But last year was really beta, and this year is when we’re going to market because as of last year we were utilizing Biller Genie as an almost freemium software in order to get the payments, the merchant services. We’ve since decoupled merchant services completely from what we do. We are a true SaaS solution and we work with all payments providers as well as all accounting softwares on the backend. So, we’re agnostic on both sides and we look to turbocharge both systems.
Greg: Okay. And how do you sell – directly? Through channels or both?
Garima: Sure, so we have a few channels. We do have a direct channel and we also sell a lot through banks. We work with banks because they’re looking to find a new way to compete with the challenger banks, the digital banks that we see coming on, they’re looking for additional things to offer their commercial bank account holders. We also work a lot with ISOs, especially the ISOs that are looking for additional software services and additional things to sell so that they can move up market and so that they’re not selling just to commoditize service payments but that truly integrated value solution for their merchants. And then we also work a lot with referral partners and ISPs. So, on the ISV side we have this idea of a tech stack. There’s companies out there that do accounts payable and or free cashflow management or something else on it in that accounting suite.
And we work with a lot of those coming up with a comprehensive solution for our merchants and now we’re doing your AR, your AP, maybe your expenses and other things. And then on our referral side we found that, accountants and bookkeepers sometimes they may think we’re looking to take over their job, but that’s not the case at all. Most accountants and bookkeepers really don’t want to be trying to collect on unpaid invoices, so we take care of that administrative work for them. So, we’ve found that accountants and bookkeepers are actually a fantastic referral partner for us because we make their job more efficient.
Greg: Great. What would you say, you know, obviously this whole space, if you call it payments or AR, whatever, is obviously incredibly competitive so what would you say differentiates you?
Garima: Yeah, so I think payments is absolutely very competitive and I’ve been in payments for 15 years as everything from an ISO owner to buying various portfolios and FinTech companies. So yes, absolutely. The space is very, very competitive. Interestingly enough though, there are not a lot of players that are focused, are laser focused on the accounts receivable piece. There are companies who are offering e-invoicing, which is a standalone solution to provide an invoice. There are companies who do a plugin where you can have a payments company work with any accounting software. I think what differentiates Biller Genie is that we take over the entire process from not just being able to have payments and accounting work together and have those systems merged or work together and reconcile with each other, but we go further than that to handle all of the systems that may be done in a company’s business.
So if you think about today, if someone’s using, for example, QuickBooks, they can easily send an invoice via email through QuickBooks. That’s something that they can do. It’s no problem. But then 10 days later, if that invoice isn’t paid, someone is now going back into the system. They’re seeing that it’s not paid, they’re reprinting it, stuffing an envelope and sending that out, or they’re clicking other buttons so that an email goes out and then they want to add a late fee. It comes in as separate invoice. It’s just a very manual process. Even though they could send that email for that payment, but it’s still very manual. And then from a consumer standpoint, they’re looking at an invoice that says Intuit on it. They may or may not know what it is. They click on it, they have to go through and provide all their information. We’re trying to take all the friction out of that payment so that they’re able to pay via Apple pay or we’re adding text to pay where they can click a button and go ahead and make that payment or recurring payment options and payment plans for larger invoicing features. So that’s really differentiates us is that we are so laser focused on this piece of truly managing the accounts receivable and collections process for our merchants.
Greg: Yeah, I love the fact that it’s not just sort of an e-invoicing. I mean it’s the whole thing. It’s the whole solution and I have to believe that’s what small and midsize companies really need as a solution.
Garima: Yeah, I mean absolutely and like I said before I started; before I joined Biller Genie, I have been in payments for so long and I’ve never had to send an invoice. I mean when we want to charge someone for merchant services, they get a statement that comes out of their account and that’s just how it works. So, I didn’t really know that there was this major gap for businesses sending invoices. It kind of seems like something that should already exist and something that should be pretty easy for people to do. And unfortunately that’s just not the case. And I think it’s because there’s all these fantastic accounting softwares out there, but they handle so many different aspects of the merchant’s business from their ledgers and their P&L statements and their chart of account. They do so many things for that business that they can’t be hyper-focused on making one specific part of the accounting process as efficient as possible.
And on the other side you have these standalone solutions that might be for e-invoicing or that might be for sending out reminders, but it takes a merchant now having to log into two different systems, creating things twice, learning new technology or new software. So the idea of utilizing all of their current systems where the merchant doesn’t have to change any part of their current workflow or learn anything new, but just be able to set something and basically set it and forget it and have those reminders go out and have the collections, the reconciliation, all of that done for them on a daily basis has been what we found as the game changer.
Greg: Yeah, thanks for that. That’s a really great description of what Biller Genie does. I really appreciate you taking the time to walk us through that. Let’s talk about payments, the bigger industry and maybe kind of get your crystal ball out and you know, where do you think things are headed and say maybe the next two to three years and then it may be second part of the question out 10 years.
Garima: Well, I wish I had a crystal ball. I’ll give you my best shot. You know, I think that payments and we’ve all seen it has become as a standalone, has become so commoditized. If you talk about merchant services only, and that’s why I think that we talk about things on a bigger feel like we talk about payments or Fintech because I think the idea about that is truly adding value to that end user and not being another commoditize industry like phone, telecommunications or energy. And I think that that’s just going to continue. And I think we’re going to see more and more software companies come into the payment space. Maybe even companies that we didn’t think had anything to do with payments start bringing payments into their infrastructure ecosystem because it’s a great way for them to have a revenue model.
And it’s also something that the merchants are looking for because they’re looking for true value and not just a place to process their transactions. And so, I think we’re going to continue to see that evolution of technology. And I think what’s different about the payment space than most other industries is the speed of that technology and the speed at that innovation is so fast. I mean when I started in merchant services 15 years ago, it was still tiered pricing and standalone terminals and friction paper and the fact that so much has changed in such a short period of time and continues to do so. I think in the next two to three years we’re just going to see the continued proliferation of software in the payment space and that’s really what this is going to become. It’s going to be truly Fintech solutions and it’s really going to be technology that enhances a merchant’s business as well as takes friction out of any point of any kind of payment or money transfer.
Greg: Sure. Any, any thoughts on way out in the 10-year horizon?
Garima: You know, 10 years is hard. I’m not sure where we’re going to be. I think that it’s just going to continue. I think also a lot with these major mega-mergers and acquisitions that we’ve seen, I think that we see that in a lot of industries where it starts and there’s hundreds and hundreds of companies competing and then all of a sudden you have, you end up with three, four, five, 10 incumbents and then all of a sudden kind of spreads out again. And I think we might be seeing some of that in the next 10 years as well, where we’re going to see all these mega-mergers, huge acquisitions happening and continued to build tech and create technology and create solutions. And then I think we’re going to see new challengers come into the marketplace that we can’t even imagine yet that are going to change the payments ecosystem yet again.
Greg: Yeah, I agree. Who thought Uber would be what they are today, right?
Garima: Yeah. I mean, I mean even if you look at things like cryptocurrency and blockchain and all of those kinds of things, I think there’s going to be a lot of adoption of some of those various solutions, who’s going to be the winner. Like I said, if I had a crystal ball that’d be great. I think we are going to see an immense influx of technology and various players that we just didn’t expect. I mean, your point on Uber is so great. I always say that even trying to explain payment facilitation, if, Uber wasn’t a payfac, would you ever get into some random car at the airport? And ask them to take you home. Like that just wouldn’t happen. But now it’s the norm. You click a button on your phone and just because Uber tells you that there’s a driver there and it’s quote unquote Uber, and you seem to know that you get in the car and you go home and it’s fine and everything’s great, but it’s so different because at the end of the day, you don’t think of a transportation company is really being in the payment space, but that’s what they are and they’re really done it so well.
I mean, Etsy is another great example of that. I wouldn’t randomly go online and order cookies from someone’s basement in Seattle but because they sell it on Etsy, all of a sudden it seems like it must be legitimate and therefore I can probably buy them and no problem. And again, it’s just these companies that are like that, that are changing the way payments works.
Greg: Yeah, yeah. It’ll be interesting to see 10 years from now where we are. All right. Let’s change gears a little and let’s talk about you. Tell us about your journey to the role as president there, sort of how you got to that position.
Garima: Sure. So, like I said, I’ve been in payments for a long time and have done all kinds of things from running an ISO, to feet on the street to running inside, outside sales forces, transitioning to payfac or to FSPs. And I’ve been looking a lot at what I’m talking about in terms of creating real value for the end user for that merchant and how do we do that? So I was looking at various software solutions and I’ve known my partner Tom, who’s the founder of Biller Genie for several years, we actually started as “frenemies” because we started on the opposite end of the same transaction more than once. So, we were the buyer of his portfolio about seven or eight years ago. And through that became friends, had a good relationship and as he was building Biller Genie, he and I were talking about the software, I became more and more interested because I have been looking for ways that we can change payments and really make it a value and create something for clients that they’re happy about and they’re not saying, Oh my God, can you save me money? It’s more, yes, you’re saving my business. You’re helping me actually do what I need to do. That’s how I came to Biller Genie. Tom and I had been talking about it for a long time and he said, you know, it’d be great to have you here and help us do this from payments perspective and so it seems just like a match made in heaven.
Greg: Sounds like it. In 2019 your recipient of the 40 under 40 award from the ETA, that that’s certainly had to be exciting. Tell me a little bit about that.
Garima: Yeah, it was super exciting. I think that being nominated and being selected by your peers is probably the best recognition you can ever get. To me, it means so much more than anybody else because these are people actually know what you’re talking about. I mean, sometimes you can get into payments and you can have all kinds of conversations and as long as the other person doesn’t know, kind of doing all right, but to have recognition from your peers and other people who know what you do on a day-to-day basis and are happy for you and supportive of you, it’s really, really exciting.
Greg: Yeah. So, let’s talk about something you’re passionate about. It could be work-related, maybe not, but something you just have a deep passion for.
Garima: So, I’m pretty passionate about just about everything that I do but in terms of work, I would say that thing I’m most passionate about is training people and working and motivating employees and partners. That is just been one of the most important things and most exciting parts of my career. Looking at people that started in my first ISO 15, 16 years ago, and seeing them run their own companies and just feeling like maybe I had a 1% hand in that or half a percent not to take too much away from them at all – is just such an exciting place and for me that’s what I’m probably most passionate about in terms of work. And then outside of work, I’m super active. I’m probably most passionate about dance. I’m on a dance team and I’ve always been a dancer and I thought that that’s what I was going to do when I grew up, but my parents didn’t really think that that was a good thing to go to college for. So, I end up in payments.
Greg: That’s funny. My daughter’s both danced growing up and I have a 15 year-old who’s really into it now. So, I know all about the dance world more than I probably need to or should. So you kind of talked a little bit about this, but you know the payment spaces or FinTech, however you want to refer to it is growing and so much investment and just a lot of new people coming into it – it’s becoming a career path for people. Whereas maybe 10 years ago it wasn’t. What would your advice be to those people who are just starting their careers in payments?
Garima: I think my advice would be expect change and be ready to embrace change because it will come and it will come very rapidly and I think the people who can’t embrace that or change with the times, whether it’s changing their revenue model or changing their understanding of what they do, what their value proposition is, those are the people who are going to be left behind because it’s not a static industry. But I also think as much as it’s important to embrace change, I think understanding the basics and fundamentals of what the business is really important. And sometimes I feel like we’re losing that and I’ve met with developers at various companies or various entities and they don’t, know what they’re developing too, they don’t have enough of an understanding of the payments infrastructure or how a sponsor bank might work or what’s an auth and what’s a payfac and those kinds of things.
And even though those might be staples or basics of who we are and what we do, I think we’re losing some of that training. And I think it’s important that we really do educate the next generation on how all of those things work. How does money actually get moved from one place to another and what are the regs around that? And because that really does impact their business on a day to day basis and it’s very easy to just build really, really cool tools. But if you don’t get the fundamentals, I think we lose a lot.
Greg: Yeah, I’d love to start seeing more colleges teaching in some Fintech classes. I think that would be really interesting to have, you know, kids coming out of college that had an interest in and knowledge of it before they got into this space.
Greg: Well, we’re about to wrap up, so any final thoughts or anything else you wanted to share with the audience today?
Garima: I don’t really have any final thoughts. I really appreciate you having these podcasts. I think, you know, as we talk about education in our industry, I think it’s so important to have outlets like this where people can learn about different companies and how to be better at what they do. I’ve listened to all of your podcast. I think they’re so helpful. I really do appreciate that.
Greg: Well, thank you so much and thank you for your time today. I know your time is incredibly valuable, so I really appreciate you being here.
Greg: And to all your listeners out there, thank you for your time as well. And until the next story.