In today’s edition of Bright Founders Talk, we are privileged to welcome Caleb Avery, the dynamic Founder and CEO of Tilled, a pioneering venture in the realm of PayFac-as-a-Service.
Hosted by Matthew from Temy, an international software development company, the conversation provides deep insights into the world of embedded payments and how Tilled is revolutionizing the payment infrastructure for software companies. From a bold 19-year-old venturing into payment processing to the visionary entrepreneur he is today, Avery narrates his captivating journey.
As he dives deep into Tilled’s mission, listeners get a sneak peek into the company’s commitment to providing seamless and efficient payment solutions. An emblem of passion and perseverance, this interview with Caleb Avery promises to be an enlightening experience for all our readers.
From Door-to-Door to Disruption: Caleb’s Remarkable Payment Evolution
Picture this: a 19-year-old Caleb, skipping the usual college shenanigans, opting instead for knocking on doors and selling payment processing services. Now, that’s not your average college hustle. But for Caleb, it was the spark that eventually led to Tilled, his groundbreaking PayFac-as-a-Service venture. He reminisced, “You know, I started my journey in the payment space at 19 years old… But for me, that was the start of my journey.”
While many of us at 19 were busy juggling studies, party invites, and late-night pizza cravings, Caleb was deep in the trenches of the payment space. This early immersion led him to consulting roles for vertical software companies. A pattern emerged: companies struggled with legacy solutions, yearning for something as sleek as the instant Stripe boarding experience they had grown accustomed to. Caleb observed, saw a gap, and thought, “Why not fill it?” In his own words, “Almost five years ago, I convinced myself that there was this opportunity… to go build what became Tilled and PayFac-as-a-Service.”
But wait, there’s a twist. While he was trailblazing the payment processing world, he was simultaneously pursuing a degree in business administration. And not just attending classes for the sake of it; he was connecting the academic dots with real-world application. “Certainly, there was some… applicability in what I was studying day-to-day… having the ability to apply that kind of day in and day out at work,” he reflected. It’s a testament to Caleb’s drive and adaptability, showcasing how formal education and hands-on experience can harmoniously coexist.
From Bootstrap to Booming: Navigating Tilled’s Startup Maze in the Age of COVID
Talk about turning the tables! Caleb embarked on his Tilled journey in January 2019, diving headfirst as a solo founder, relying on his own means, “I was a solo founder, bootstrapping the business in the early days,” he reminisces. Most founders will attest, the startup path is strewn with regulatory, legal, and technical hurdles. But the real test for Caleb wasn’t just these challenges; it was the unprecedented disruption caused by a global pandemic. As COVID-19 shuttered small businesses, Caleb’s main source of income dwindled, sparking a need to reevaluate and adapt.
The scenario paints a rather bleak backdrop, doesn’t it? But Caleb didn’t wallow; he saw a new window of opportunity. He recalls, “When COVID hit…we started to look at, okay, well, what would it take to get the business to a place where it was fundable by outside investors.” He hustled, creating a compelling pitch deck, courting customer insights, and navigating the changed funding landscape. By mid-2020, Tilled secured its early round of capital, proving resilience and adaptability can indeed pivot a challenge into a success story.
But what really strikes a chord isn’t just Caleb’s business acumen but his introspection amidst the chaos. His love for problem-solving wasn’t deterred by the global crisis; if anything, it fueled him more. And his realization that while end goals can remain steadfast, the route to reach them may necessitate fluidity is a gem worth pondering. In the constantly evolving landscape of startups and more so amidst a pandemic, adaptability isn’t just a skill—it’s survival.
Caleb’s Secrets to Success: Surrounding Yourself with Rockstars & the Magic of PayFac
Caleb’s philosophy is crystal clear: “The people you surround yourself with are going to be the biggest determining factor to whether you’re succeeding or failing.” He spoke earnestly about the significance of hiring the right team members. Especially during those early stages of a startup, where every choice carries weight. Caleb’s initial approach wasn’t about finding carbon copies of himself. Instead, he sought individuals who could bridge the gap – filling in areas of knowledge he lacked or simply tasks he preferred not to handle. This isn’t just about skillsets. It’s about company culture, and as Caleb explained, with a touch of humor, they’re “not your grandma’s payments company.”
However, even with a dream team, delegating isn’t always straightforward. In the initial days, it was about pinpointing the tasks that absolutely needed delegation. “Things that I really didn’t want to do, I found incredibly easy to delegate,” Caleb admitted with a chuckle. But as the business grew, the dynamics shifted. Sometimes delegation became a mutual process, where his team members would step in, eager to ease Caleb’s burden. His pride evident, he remarked, “That’s when you know you’ve got some rock stars around you.”
But the journey isn’t just about building the right team. It’s also about pioneering innovative services. Enter ‘PayFac’ or payment facilitator. While many might be familiar with titans like Stripe or PayPal, understanding the intricacies of PayFac and its advantages can be a tad elusive. Caleb broke it down effortlessly, outlining its transformative power for small business owners. With an almost revolutionary zeal, he shared about PayFac-as-a-Service – a bridge for software businesses to leverage PayFac’s benefits in record time. To think, what used to be an uphill battle of integration has been streamlined to an average of nine days. “We’ve distilled that entire experience,” Caleb beamed.
Challenging the Titans: Caleb Avery’s Take on Navigating the Payment Landscape
Amid the dizzying giants of the payment world, Caleb Avery and his brainchild, Tilled, have made quite a splash. While he hasn’t exactly received fruit baskets from big names like Stripe, the market response to Tilde’s novel concept of “PayFac-as-a-Service” has been overwhelmingly positive. Creating a new term in a saturated market is always a gamble, but for Avery, coining “PayFac-as-a-Service” crystallized Tilled’s unique offering, cutting through the industry jargon that tends to blur the lines for newcomers.
The momentum towards software-led payments is undeniable, with a visible shift from traditional credit card processing methods towards integrated software solutions. Caleb’s vision with Tilled has been to be at the forefront of this monumental transition. Surprisingly, Tilled isn’t just attracting attention from software companies, but also from legacy distribution channels seeking a piece of the software-led payment pie. The sheer dynamism of the payment space is evident in the blurring lines between competitors and collaborators, as many who once stood as rivals are now vying for a taste of Tilled’s technology.
But it’s not just about disrupting markets and pioneering new terms; it’s about passion. Caleb’s earnest advice to budding entrepreneurs is simple yet profound: fall in love with the problem, not the idea of starting a business. The entrepreneurial journey is filled with highs and lows, but it’s the burning passion for solving a genuine problem that keeps one going. As the landscape of payments continues to evolve, Tilled and its spirited leader are undoubtedly ones to watch.