When Rapyd CEO Arik Shtilman ventured into fintech in 2016, he had just sold his cloud computing company and knew little about the world of payments. As a serial entrepreneur, Arik had valuable experience building high-growth technology companies that scale. Since 2016, Rapyd has secured USD $180 million in funding and grown to 200+ employees, with steep growth in 2019.
The Rapyd blog team sat down with Arik to get his take on a very busy 2019 and discuss lessons he learned as one of Rapyd’s founders.
Arik, what was the inspiration behind starting Rapyd?
We started in 2016 as Cashdash, a B2C eWallet that would allow a consumer to withdraw cash from an ATM in any country without a bank account. We initially started with just a single country, but found out that it required integration with seven different systems and local services, as well as managing licensing and regulatory requirements. Then some people started calling us, asking if they could ‘borrow’ our capabilities, since we’d already completed all the integrations.
We realized that a much bigger problem existed that needed to be solved, and in 2017 we made our pivot: instead of a B2C wallet provider, we became a B2B Fintech-as-a-Service Platform. That proposition had a much bigger impact and a stronger product-market fit. What we saw then was that there was a massive need to create a way for fintech applications to scale globally and allow any business to expand while focusing on their core business instead of building new payment infrastructure.
The moment we managed to find what businesses need, the pipeline started to fill. Now we have clients like Uber that use Rapyd to build their payment products.
Who does Rapyd serve? And what does the company help them achieve?
As a single technology platform, Rapyd is able to deliver the full stack of fintech services. We serve multiple industries and verticals, including global ecommerce companies, gig-economy players banks, and B2B businesses. We have built the first truly global payments solution for anyone who needs to accept or pay money to their buyers or sellers, move money around the world, or create new fintech services for their users.
One of the key challenges we solve for is fragmentation: consumers and businesses around the world like to pay and be paid in different ways, including cash, credit cards, bank transfers, ewallets, and local debit schemes. Rapyd gives businesses the ability to offer a choice of any local payment method.
In fact, every week we hear about a new use case that we haven’t seen before. Our customers keep coming up with new and creative ways to use Rapyd capabilities.
What excites you the most about going to work at Rapyd?
The most exciting thing is the size of the opportunity that we are working on. Our solution actually goes beyond solving B2C payments.
I look at other companies, and I can see that they have the potential to tackle markets that are worth hundreds of millions or maybe even a billion dollars. Rapyd is going after a much bigger market, whose size is actually $150 TRILLION. Yes, B2B payments is a HUGE opportunity.
Is it true that Rapyd was able to grow from 30 employees to 200 in just a year? How did it happen?
Yes, and it is an unbelievable achievement. It was done based on an aggressive recruitment plan that was executed well by HR, operations, and the general managers in each region.
I think the biggest success is not only the growth, but also the fact that we were able to secure the Rapyd DNA. We make sure that the people who join fit the profile of what we define as having the Rapyd DNA.
What is the culture at Rapyd? How is it different from other companies in our industry?
For me, the Rapyd culture represents a few things:
First, it’s a company where everything is possible: we can do anything, even things that other people consider impossible.
Second, we are agile: the type of people we want as part of the team are the people who can quickly switch between tasks, experiment, execute fast, and adapt to evolving market needs.
Finally, Rapyd is inquisitive: we continue to do things differently from other companies in this space by asking questions. We continually challenge ourselves by asking “why is it done this way”, and not accepting answers like “this is just the way it works”.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in 2019?
I think there are several things Rapyd achieved that we can all be proud of:
The first accomplishment was building a world-class team and recruiting the fantastic people that are part of Rapyd today. The biggest challenge in the tech industry is recruiting people, and I think we have done a great job in bringing these amazing people on board. Now, of course, we need to make sure this team executes well, which is one of our 2020 goals.
In 2019, we educated the market about the need for Fintech-as-a-Service and how important it is to go local when you accept payments globally. We were able to convince the world’s top investors to believe in Rapyd, and they invested hundreds of millions of dollars. This was a great accomplishment.
Was there something that you did differently this year versus the previous years?
Yes, I started to make decisions based more on data, statistics, and numbers, and less on instincts. The number of people working at Rapyd has grown very fast, and that requires a different approach to managing the company.
What has been your biggest learning this year?
My biggest learning this year was that having more than 100 employees in the company requires a different way of management. I thought that by having smaller teams we might have better communication between teams and overcome the need to use reporting and statistics to manage the company, but unfortunately, I learned the hard way that it is impossible.
What are your predictions for the fintech industry in 2020 and beyond?
More consolidation in the fintech and payments industry. I believe that many of the one-trick pony companies in this space (that do, for example, only one thing: FX, card issuing, disbursements) are going to be either acquired or disappear. Everyone understands that the platforms are going to rule the fintech space two to three years from now.
You could see this trend coming over the past five years. And there have been some recent signals: the acquisition of Hyperwallet by PayPal, and the acquisition of optile by Payoneer. These are just several examples of how the market is going to consolidate.
Can you tell us something very few people know about you?
Many people in the company know that I’m an avid basketball fan. But what most people don’t know is that I have another hobby—I like to cook. And I’m actually pretty good at it.
Thank you for your time Arik. Before we close, what’s your vision for Rapyd in 2020 and beyond?
The vision for 2020 is to build on our momentum from 2019. Specifically, improve the knowledge transfer across the company, deliver a smooth onboarding of customers into the Platform, and grow revenue and our product portfolio faster than the rest in the market. And, of course, continue to be the strong and fast organization that we are.
Interested in learning more about job opportunities at Rapyd? Check out our Career website!