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Learn to deal with rejection early

Imburse, companies can solve their most pressing payment problems

Please introduce yourself and your start-up Imburse to our readers!

I am Carl, the CFO and co-founder of Imburse. We founded Imburse with a single goal, to simplify how companies access the global payments ecosystem and embed financial services into their operations. We provide our clients with a low code platform and the expertise to deploy new payment technologies, workflows and providers into their organisations via a single connection. 

Imburse was founded in February 2018 and has grown rapidly since then. We are backed by some of the worlds leading technology investors and have over 50 employees across our offices in Zurich, Lisbon and London. Our clients include large multinational insurers such as Generali and Swiss Re. We have also developed key partnerships with renowned consultancies and core system providers, making our solution more readily available for our enterprise clients. 

Prior to founding Imburse I had an extensive career in finance spanning a number of disciplines where I witnessed the challenges of technology integrations and financial operations first-hand.

How did you get the idea of Imburse? 

We were forced into it as a pivot actually. We had a completely different business in 2012, in the flight tracking space. Our business model was to sell flight-delay insurance to consumers, and we needed to be able to do real-time payments to meet customer expectations. Unfortunately, the insurer we worked with did not have that functionality available and was not prepared to develop it. It would have cost them $ 500,000 and taken an estimated 15 months to deploy. We wanted to make our business a success of course, so we built what we thought would be a temporary solution. This was the beginning of Imburse. Our solution garnered a lot of interest, so it became clear to us then that this was the main pain point that needed to be solved.

Why did you decide to start with Imburse? 

Many of the founders had started companies before and once we got an inkling that there is a problem that needed addressing and that companies are willing to pay for, we invested more time in understanding it. We found out that companies really struggle with technical integrations to payment providers and technologies, both from a time and cost perspective. It’s a common hurdle for many companies, especially those that rely on legacy IT systems. In short, we understood that this was a huge problem that companies are willing to pay for, it’s cross-vertical and it has global reach. These are great foundations for a start-up. 

What is the vision behind Imburse? 

Most corporations today are hampered by their own process inefficiencies, lack of access to specific skills, and, of course, budget constraints. A lot of resources, both financial and human, are wasted on helping complex and old systems cope to meet ever-evolving customer needs. We free up companies from these restrictions, allowing them to deploy their resources to build better companies, better products and generate more value for their customers. We focus on solving the payments integration problem, so that companies can allocate their resources to core business areas, all whilst still optimising and future-proofing their payments system. Aside from enabling connectivity to the payments world, Imburse also provides the payment expertise needed to make more informed business choices.   

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

The start was difficult. The main challenge is to get early investors excited about B2B software. The problems are sometimes more difficult to understand and not as well-known as customer pain points. In addition, B2B deals take longer to conclude and the solution needs to be essentially operational before it can be sold. The pool of early-stage investors who have a good B2B software market appreciation is small, but we managed to attract some of the best early-stage investors out there. This allowed us to invest in the product and grow the company successfully.

Who is your target audience? 

We target medium and large corporates, specifically those with complex corporate structures, old IT systems or multi-market presence. This can include insurance, banking, utilities and healthcare, amongst others. Our solution is geographically agnostic, despite our initial focus on European markets. 

What is the USP of your start-up? 

With Imburse, companies can solve their most pressing payment problems whether the challenges are on the collection, pay out or data side. Through our platform, companies can access any payment provider or technology available in any market. This enables them to offer any payment method they want, from more traditional payment mechanisms to alternative payment methods and vouchers. Most importantly, we are accessible to enterprises with older, legacy IT systems and old finance processes. This means we are best positioned to solve the payments integration problem for any corporate globally.

Can you describe your typical workday? 

I typically start my day with a workout which is usually followed by some time playing with my young daughter. After this we have a family breakfast and I spend some time getting the family ready for their daily activities. 

I start the workday around 9:00 and prefer to spend my mornings on high concentration tasks, often involving financial, legal and compliance topics. This leaves my afternoons open for team engagements and strategic focus areas. I make sure I am home for an early dinner and am normally online for an hour or two once I have put the kids down for bed in order to close out open topics and prepare for the next day.

Where do you see yourself and your start-up Imburse Payments in five years? 

In 5 years, Imburse will be the “go-to” solution provider for corporates and SMEs for anything related to the topic of payments. We will be a strong team sharing a common mission, and excited by the opportunity to grow even further into other industry verticals. Imburse will be a globally recognised brand in the B2B software space with a reputation for delivery and bringing value to our clients.

What 3 tips would you give to founders? 

Don’t be afraid to spend money early on to ensure you build a solid foundation. Know what resources you need in order to achieve your next milestone and raise enough money to give yourself the scope and runway to achieve this. This includes allocating resources to get the proper legal advice and structures in place early on. The right advice really allows you to move through investment rounds and closing deals faster. 

Secondly, hire more, earlier. We learned painfully how hard it is to hire good people and how long it takes. Spend time very early on to define your hiring strategy.

Lastly, learn to deal with rejection early. You need to find the right balance between taking feedback to improve your offering and ignoring negative people that may not understand your offering. There are unfortunately some investors who look to justify why not to invest, rather than look for opportunities to invest, and this means you will probably get more “no” than “yes”. It is an opportunity to learn.

Thank you Carl Strempel for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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