Winner of High Growth Business of the Year in the 2018 Private Business Awards, Checkout.com may be a mere six year-old business but it’s become a leading international provider of online payment solutions.
Handling the entire payment process the company partners with smart businesses to help optimise their payments, increase revenue, support international expansion and meet the dynamic needs of their customers.
On the eve of the Awards ceremony, CEO Guillaume Pousaz talked to us about his achievements to date and his hopes for the future.
Checkout is fairly unique in the fintech world, having been bootstrapped and profitable from day one. How did you overcome the challenges of growing the business?
“When we bootstrapped the business, we spent every single dollar like it was our last. I was actually still living at home, and the truth is, it was bootstrapped to the maximum.
“We really played the outsourcing card as much as possible. After moving to London, we decided to take super low salaries; myself and every single employee. There was no marketing. We were as optimised as it gets in terms of how we managed our spending, and it required a lot of forecasting. To this day, we are still very good in terms of how we forecast hiring. We know quarter-by-quarter how many people we hired: it’s tied to our targets, and we never over-hire or under-hire.”
How have you found recruiting talent into the company since the vote to leave the EU?
“At this point in time, there is zero difference between pre-Brexit decisions and where we are right now. London is one of the most competitive markets when it comes to recruiting. There is a still a lot of VC money flowing into computing and fin-tech companies, which allow them to really hire all they want.
“The truth is that London is a great city and I think that even post Brexit, people will stay here. There is a lot of talent and Brexit is not going to affect our strategy that much.”
What have been the other biggest challenges for you as a business?
“Running a company between 0 to 100 employees requires a certain skillset. From 100 to 200 is another skillset, and managing 250 and above is a third skillset. We’ve now got 235, so I’ve transitioned from the smaller company- where I had to micromanage, do everything and be everywhere, to now being able to delegate. When the company gets even larger, running it becomes all about implementing processes.
“We’ve managed to build an incredible business from scratch by taking the right steps, but it’s still very much driven by incredibly talented people. We’ve managed to attract good people and we have an extremely low employee turnover rate, which is really important to us because it proves that we are doing a good job.”
What do you see as your biggest challenges in the short term for the next 12 months, and longer term?
“We have been growing at a very decent rate and we need to keep growing. I’ve had advanced discussions with some of the biggest internet companies and we only need to sign one of those companies to move us from being a payment company that is doing pretty well, to being one of the three or four major global payment companies out there.
“We have a very robust foundation and we have a very good product. Everything that we sell we own as proprietary, and we need to design our processes to take this product and move it across geographies and individuals.”
What are you most proud of as a business?
“As I say in all my employee quarterly meetings, we are building a legacy. We’ve gotten to the point where this company is bigger than us. We have our own identity through the culture; we could reshuffle everyone tomorrow and the company will still be there delivering a great service to our customers. That alone, when I look back, is what we have always tried to achieve – to build a self-sustainable, robust, long term business.
“I am not saying I could take a six-month holiday and still keep the same level of efficiency, but we are in the very enviable position of being profitable – growing, margin expansion –that’s the beauty of the industry that we are in.”
What’s next for Checkout?
“We want to build a future of banking to empower digital commerce. We have a long roadmap of products that we know we can build. Because Checkout.com serves as the entry point of revenue, there are a lot of incremental revenue opportunities that we can actually build on top of the revenue of the merchant. We simply want to be the future of banking.”