Updated: Aug 26
There is never a good time to start a company: there is always an excuse. While I spent much of my career from 2014-2020 at early-stage startups like Netradyne & Zoomo, the last 2.5 years with Yelp were a time of security. Though Yelp is definitely a tech company with strong engineering culture, I decided to venture out on my own after speaking with a bunch of B2B merchants within the EU & India. What I was hearing was that there was a huge underserved market, globally rife with many interesting payment-centric challenges to solve and largely unconsolidated.
In the second half of 2020, I moved to Amsterdam, and I co-founded Sprinque together with my co-founders Mark Holleman & Juan Espinosa in the middle of the pandemic. What a chaotic time that was. But we survived it and we’ve made it to 2023 stronger and more ambitious than ever.
Last month, we released the news of our seed round, so I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the last 2 years, the learnings from acquiring 20+ B2B merchants so far, our dreams & hopes, and what really drives me.
The B2B trade ecosystem in the EU is lit 🔥 but payment challenges remain 🚧
The B2B merchant & marketplace ecosystem is spread across many industries, geographies, and sizes in the EU, but its global size is estimated to reach $1.8 trillion USD by 2025. So much potential, yet so many obstacles to tackle.
As various industries and verticals digitize connecting geographies, and as new buyers approach merchants online from different channels, new roadblocks emerge when buyers demand payment terms and want to pay by invoice. The digital solutions are not flexible enough, they are limited to specific countries and not everywhere the market is regulated. On top, paying by invoice adds to the cash flow problems of most growing merchants and increases the burden on already strained finance teams to define and establish processes to counter these challenges.
The hurdles only get larger especially when the trade goes truly cross-border with foreign exchange management involved. You add on top the economical climate around the world, making financing and risk management even more complex, and you have tons of companies around the world looking for innovative solutions to weather the storm. But there is not one that covers all fronts.
This is why we are seeing quite some companies in the B2B FinTech space still receiving funding even when investment for most other verticals went dry and many tech companies are cutting costs across the board. As Bram Vreugdenhil put it last week, it might be a fad, but we might be into something huge. B2B companies find themselves in an infliction point: if they want to survive this crisis, they need to offer all the payment flexibility they can at scale, expand to new markets, increase conversions and average order value, be able to extend trust to new buyers on the spot and speed up their growth. It is time for them to offer to their B2B customers the same online buying and payment experience as they know from the B2C world. They need though someone to remove all the existing blockers.
And this is why we at Sprinque decided to build a one-stop-shop platform that solves all these pains, once and for all: a product that brings B2B payments to the same user experience level where B2C is at. After a global pandemic and now in the middle of economical recession, B2B companies cannot delay it anymore: 2023 is the year to step up their online payments game.
Having a clear vision will always pave the way 🔭
The fundamental question we ask ourselves every day at Sprinque is this: How can we enable B2B merchants to manage their payment operations as efficiently as possible? From where we stand, it is only feasible by managing both their accounts receivables and accounts payables optimized for their cash flow, and also by implementing process efficiency so that they can fully focus on what’s truly important for their business to survive and thrive in this shaky macroeconomic environment i.e. procure and sell their goods & services.
So we set ourselves to build a business payments platform that enables frictionless B2B trade across geographies and covers all the different flows each industry already has in place. We believe this is a mission worth pursuing with all our forces combined, in the end, to enable frictionless commerce, across sales channels and geographies. Europe has been our start, but our ambitions go far beyond.
We are here to help businesses thrive, no matter their size or location.
Sticking to the fundamentals 📈
One of the key learnings from my previous stints with early-stage startups is to pay attention to business fundamentals like unit economics, profitability, tech-enabled iterations towards product-market fit, and operational usage of technology right from the start. The second learning that influenced me a lot while building Sprinque is to first build a minimum lovable product in a lean way and then proceed to build a lean, effective team to keep building the platform and run the operations in a scalable, secure fashion 😉
Given that our origins are in Amsterdam, there are payment technology companies that we look up to that are in our neighborhood (quite literally!) i.e. Adyen & Mollie. Watching Adyen steadily grow in the scale of payment volumes they process and in team size despite the tumultuous environment that it is today speaks a lot about their discipline and their keen eye on the fundamentals. On their side, Mollie has been incredibly successful in BeNeLux and we would be lucky if we get to follow their path in these markets.
We started up at an uncertain time. But we listened to the market and built a flexible and needed service, so this year 2023 is our year to scale our operational footprint across multiple markets within Europe like Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and beyond. If you are today wondering whether you should or should not startup up, my take is: you should if and once you are able to find the right solution for a burning problem and the right partners to join you in the journey. I am so blessed I did.
If you’re a B2B merchant or a marketplace struggling with payment operations while scaling your business, please reach out to email@example.com, and we’ll gladly solve them for you 😊 🚀