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PromisePay, an electronic payment solutions firm out of Melbourne, recently became part of the St. Louis startup scene. With offices in Australia, San Francisco and now the Gateway City, the company has a unique perspective on not only the community in St. Louis, but how it compares to other startup hotbeds.
We talked to PromisePay’s Co-Founder and CXO Darren McMurtrie about the company’s experience here and where they think St. Louis’s startup community is headed.
How would you explain the problem you saw in the market and how you went about solving it?
Billions of the world’s transactions are now flowing through online marketplaces everyday, from Ebay to Uber. But the challenge for these platforms is connecting buyers and sellers who don’t know or trust each other while managing the nuances of tax, commissions, fee structures, compliance, and merchant payouts.
Many marketplaces therefore have large specialist payment and customer service teams that take the business away from their core focus of connecting buyers and sellers. PromisePay relieves these operational headaches with a full-stack solution that not only powers payments but provides escrow, fraud management, chargeback protection, end user payments support, dispute resolution, instant merchant onboarding and identity verifications so that operators can enhance user experience, drive revenue and build trust, which are all key to a thriving marketplace.
What has it been like going from a startup to having offices across the globe?
Customer growth meant we had to expand internationally, fast. It’s been an exhilarating time starting out in Melbourne only a couple of years ago, to running an office in San Francisco and now St. Louis to support our rapidly growing customer base in the US where online marketplaces are booming.
What put St. Louis in the running for becoming a place for your expansion?
We had a great experience here during our time at SixThirty and have strong relationships in the region. The city has fantastic hospitality, plenty to offer culturally and there’s a real sense of camaraderie and openness to doing business. One of our investors, Cultivation Capital is also based in St. Louis so the decision to set up operations here came naturally.
Since moving into the St. Louis region, how have you found it compares to other startup communities in which you have offices?
Melbourne has a very close startup community which gave us the opportunity to get to know our customers intimately and deeply understand the challenges online marketplaces face. While San Francisco is the heartland of on-demand marketplace platforms and where many of PromisePay’s customers are based, the St. Louis startup scene is showing strong momentum with ambitious plans to be become a fintech hub, and we’re excited to be a part of shaping its future.
What does the region’s tech community offer that’s a unique advantage?
St. Louis is home to some of the best fintech talent and we’ve already made several strategic hires including payments expert and SixThirty mentor Doug Wilber as PromisePay’s President, North America to drive our growth in the States.
Coming into St. Louis when you did, what’s your assessment of the state of the startup environment as it stands and where do you see it in five years?
There’s a strong local culture of innovation emerging in St. Louis, particularly in financial services and it’s attracting startups from all over the world. While still in its early stages, the government has some fantastic initiatives to build St. Louis into a vibrant, innovative city and is doing everything in its power to deliver on that strategy. There’s a lot of work still to be done, but as the city continues to attract talented people and ambitious startups, combined with its strong history in financial services, we think St. Louis has the potential to be a global fintech hub.
Follow Darren on Twitter: @darrenmcmurtrie
This blog was created in collaboration with Cultivation Capital, a member of the EQ Partner Network.