Payments as a Platform

It’s been a busy 100 + days at Spreedly. Around March 1st we switched from emphasizing our subscriptions offering to focusing on Spreedly (Core). In May we successfully raised a seed round via AngelList. In July we announced the sale of our subscriptions business to Pin Payments.

There’s one recurring theme at Spreedly we find fascinating. Putting aside people that perhaps don’t understand payments at all, we have two types of prospective customer interactions.

Prospective Customer A: I understand what you do but I don’t understand why anyone would use you. Why wouldn’t they/I just go with <insert>¬†payment gateway? They also vault cards and can accept multiple currencies etc.

Prospective Customer B: This is fantastic/awesome/wonderful! Where have you guys been hiding?

Naturally we saw enough of the B type to go all in on our new offering. However, we grapple with what we do with Prospective Customer A. What’s most interesting is there hasn’t been any real shades of gray. ¬†Even when Prospect A understands how we are different they rarely become a customer.¬†At best we can hope for is somewhere down the road they refer someone to us when they hear the problem that we solve. Conversely, with prospect B we don’t do a lot of “traditional” selling. It’s not “Can you tell me in 3 – 5 ways why you’re different to these 5 competing services?” It’s straight to implementation and pricing questions. It’s fast track or no track.

We’re partly to blame for this conundrum. Every time we thought we’d seen all possible use cases new ones would arise. So we backed off diving in hard on defining exactly what we were. We *still* happily get emails from really smart people who outline their problem and how we can solve it and we all look at each other and say “Yes, I think he/she is right. It could work that way”. That’s really enjoyable. However, we’re also getting close to understanding how we can describe ourselves in a useful but not limiting way. Again, some of it comes from prospective customers. “You remind me of IP Commerce in their early days” or “You’re like PAY.ON only you’re focused on merchants and services as customers not payment gateways as they are”

So what are the types of use cases we see? Need to vault cards on behalf of a third party? Need to vault cards and run them against more than one payment gateway? Sell a service to third parties that may already have a payment gateway and want you to support their existing choice? Operate globally but want/need to transact on the ground/locally? Want to build your own payment gateway? We can be the answer there too.

A few things became consistent. We’re nearly always a critical infrastructure component. We’re not interested in being an end user brand. We’re a B2B offering (usually but not always our customers are B2C). So we arrived at Payments as a Platform.

I think our true prospective customer will always immediately get what we do. By emphasizing that we’re a foundational platform upon which one or multiple payment gateways sit to work with your service we can help other folks self qualify.