Mareike Turner is the Director of Operations and Customer Experience at Payability – a NYC-based fintech company that provides financing and payment solutions to eCommerce sellers. Mareike built her career around empowering SMB Retailers after pivoting from "offline" trade to eCommerce. Mareike sits down with Chris Snyder to discuss the increasing pivot towards eCommerce and how Payability makes it easier for online retailers to finance inventory and business operations.
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[00:00:05] Hello, everyone. Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown president at Juhll Agency and founder of Financial Services Platform Banks dot com. On this show, we take a no B.S. approach to business success and failure, told through the stories of the top entrepreneurs and executives who have lived them. Join us today as we get the unfiltered backstories behind successful brands. Today's episode is sponsored by Banks Dot Com, the world's most comprehensive and trusted branding and discovery platform for banks and banking related products and services. Banks dot com is aligning consumer core values with trusted financial institutions, bringing attention and awareness to leading financial brands. To learn more, you can go to banks dot com forward slash partners, or you can send an email to info at banks dot com. OK. Without further ado, today's guest is Mareike Turner, she is the director of Operations and CX at Payability. Payability is a New York City based fintech company that provides financing and payment solutions to e-commerce sellers, where ICA built her career around empowering SMB retailers.
[00:01:19] After pivoting from off-line trade to e-commerce, Mareike is here today to chat with us about the increasing pivot towards e-commerce and how portability makes it easier for online retailers to finance inventory and business operations. Welcome, Mareike. Thanks for having me.
[00:01:40] Absolutely. Well, let's kick this thing off the same way we always do. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing, kind of where you grew up and how you got to where you are today.
[00:01:49] Yeah, absolutely. So my name is Mareike. And as you can tell, I'm not from the U.S. So I grew up in Germany, actually, a really, really small town, around 400 people. And what people find really funny about that is when you wanted to reach my parents at home over the landline, you only had to dial three digits. So it's like my three digit phone numbers. It's super, super small.
[00:02:13] I've never heard that my life is out there now. They run landlines in Germany. They just do. Based on the size of your town, you get allocated this many numbers.
[00:02:25] And if you're so, Los Angeles would be twenty two numbers, which would be a real pain in the ass to remember. But your town gets three.
[00:02:33] Yeah. If you want to, like, dial from one house to another in that town, it's three digits. So that is just to give you an idea of, like, how small the town was.
[00:02:43] Do they still operate that way? I've never heard of such a thing.
[00:02:46] Yeah. I mean, you have to if you want to dial out of the town, you have to dial like five other digits. But within the town, it's three digits. Oh, my parents. That's actually.
[00:02:55] That would mean that would have made a lot easier growing up because growing up, you always had remember, you know, all of the digits, not just three. Right.
[00:03:03] Exactly. But then when you think about it, if it's only three digits, you can probably also just go over to the house.
[00:03:10] It's not far away. It's 400 people. It's probably a total of, what, like three square miles or something? Probably a lot of forest, but something like that. A couple of streets. Yeah, well, I mean, obviously, you know, you've figured out a way to kind of expand. I know you've been, you know, in the import export business, you wound up working for Etsy. You did some, you know, your grad school research assistant. So tell us a lot about how you kind of how you got out of the small town. You moved to New York. Tell us how you got to that small town. And you started your career doing doing other things.
[00:03:48] Absolutely. So I made it out. My next move at this school was moving to Hamburg, which is a bigger city, around two million people and Hamburg. I got my bachelor's degree and then I was one of these people in my early 20s. Oh, what am I going to do with my career? What am I going to do with my life? And one thing about Hamburg, it's really famous for import and export and being a trading hub. So it's Europe's third biggest like port. So it was a common thing to do when you lived in when you lived in Hamburg. Hamburg. A lot of trading companies there. I got a job, one of these companies, and really learned how. Yeah, how how it works. How do you import stuff from Asia? How do you distribute it within Europe? And I get specialized in food ingredients. So basically a lot of white powder that goes into our food and then a couple years into a combat role. And that company, I got the opportunity to work in a startup and that was one of these moves that was still the same industry, still import export. But I was really curious about like the startup world and just working in a smaller company with less red tape and a little bit more opportunity. So that was also one of these things. Going back to me, growing up like small town, stable household, it's a lot about like, OK, security, job security. My parents work this their jobs for their whole lives. And then when I told them about like, oh, I got a job offer from a startup, their first reaction was like, why would you want to do that? You have a secure job and this medium sized company, you can work there forever. Why is it big?
[00:05:39] They just didn't want you to end up moving back in with them when it didn't work out. They did. They forgot to tell you that part of it. They're like, you better.
[00:05:47] That was probably it. Yeah, that was so this.
[00:05:52] So this is interesting. You go you go from grad school and you start doing this import export stuff and you're basically like, what? Trading emails and phone calls with, you know, Europe and Asia and you're shipping bags of white powder that goes into food and you're basically negotiating rates. And I'm assuming looking at Excel spreadsheets and trying to figure out how to manage this supply chain. Is that, like, the gist of it?
[00:06:20] Yeah, that sums it up. A lot of flex scheduling like ships and booking containers on ships and also sending and receiving the occasional fax. So it was a really, really I got it really manual and people still make fun of that. But also the thing is, it still is operated that way. I still have a lot of friends working in this industry and it hasn't changed much. And then. Well, that's an upgrade, though.
[00:06:46] Hold on. You went from three phone numbers to a fax machine. I got to tell you, you're going places going. I can't wait to start talking about the BlackBerry. That's got to come up next in this conversation. That was my first smartphone. No kidding. Well, it was mine. And I'm not kidding, man. They did a terrible job trying to figure that out after owning twenty five percent of the mobile market. But anyway, so. So you're doing this stuff in. Is it was it was it boring? And you were still looking at Internet stuff and you were kind of like, well, this is working for a startup now, but it's still just not that exciting. Like what was going on? I believe it was OPM ingredients or.
[00:07:31] Yeah, exactly. So. The like doing this kind of role in a startup was more exciting than the mid-sized company just because there was more responsibility and more things to do. Well, what I really enjoyed about this industry and about this job was the international aspect and just working with people all around the globe. So that was something that I took away from it that I really, really enjoy. And then when I had the job in this startup, it was also like being involved in tech, hiring and building teams and building processes and figuring out the operations just because when I talked it was five people. So that when you join a startup in that size, you do more than just your job. And that is something that I found that I really, really enjoy. And also just experiencing like a sales role and having you as a young woman in this industry that is somewhat male dominated and somewhat traditional. So some of the trade shows were interesting. If you travel all over Europe trying to sell white powder to more like traditional companies and some interesting experiences there.
[00:08:43] Let's put it that way. You're actually doing trade shows, too.
[00:08:46] This wasn't just you were out like probably huge.
[00:08:51] These were probably global. International. You have people from everywhere, pre Corona. Obviously, you don't think about all the hands that I shook at trade shows over the course of my career. And then you just think about Corona now. You're like, oh, my God. If I'd never, ever have to shake anyone else's hand for the rest of my life, I would be OK with that.
[00:09:12] I'd be very OK with it. That is the one thing the one positive thing about Corona. It's OK to not shake hands anymore.
[00:09:19] I feel like I don't even do a fist bump. I just do head nod. Now I'm like, don't don't even come near me. All right.
[00:09:26] Yeah. I had not like waving awkward waving. Hi.
[00:09:30] I think they figured it out in Asia. The bell. I think that's I think they've they're the ones who've figured it out. So how did you get to Etsy? This is super interesting. I don't know a ton about Etsy. I don't know. We don't know each other, but I'm not hanging out on Etsy. I can assure you of that. How did you get to Etsy? When did you know that you had enough for one startup? And you know, Etsy. I don't know if they're a startup in 2016. I don't know their history. But, you know, maybe that was another startup in their high growth. Very interesting and valuable company. Tell us about the Etsy story.
[00:10:05] Yeah, absolutely. And in my startup job. So what I really, like, learn and enjoy. There is like being in a sales role. But then also building customer relationships. So that was my big takeaway from from that car is like that is something that I really enjoy and something that I'm really good at. So then all the like, both of my jobs and the import export industry, they were back in Hamburg, Germany, and then in twenty sixteen, I got the opportunity to make the big move and move over to the US. And that is when I found my role at Etsy. So was gonna be life changing decisions that I made with my husband. He got a job offer there and I was like, cool. I quit my job. I'll come with you. I don't know if I'll find a job in New York. I've never lived in New York. I've visited New York once. But let's move over there and figure it out. And that is exactly what I did. And then based on my experience and not really e-commerce, but commerce and building customer relationships, I found this job at and I was on their account management team and Etsy. I think everyone knows or everyone should know what they're doing. It's these e-commerce marketplace for creative entrepreneurs. So as an account manager, my role was to work for the top sellers on the site and help them run their shops, help them utilize the Etsy platform to get most out of these products and to get the most exposure and to make sure that they are happy on the platform and that they grow and thrive and expand. And I really, really do well. And that was something that I enjoyed a lot. And I'll tell you why I like one of the reasons why people sell on Etsy. So, first of all, it's that you're usually creative. So, yeah, sure. You may not be the target audience for an Etsy buyer, but you're probably familiar with their products. And that's you can literally find anything fun on the Etsy, on the outside, if that from will on you right now.
[00:12:14] I just went in and typed in Google Etsy beer because I love beer and they have personalized beer glasses on Etsy. Go Etsy. I'm a fan. I might I might have to check out Etsy now. Who knows.
[00:12:29] Well, you have to. You can find your personalized. Or as well. And your personalized straw and everything like they have everything for the big love out there.
[00:12:40] Let me tell you that as a term in your names home bar, they even have a personalized name, your custom home bar, neon sign.
[00:12:51] This is. I'm so glad I did this podcast. That's it.
[00:12:55] You've been missing out so far in your life.
[00:13:01] OK, so Etsy. So international. Only assuming you're bilingual. So they're like, hey, talk to the Germans and talk to the Italians and talk to how many languages do you speak?
[00:13:13] It's just German and English.
[00:13:14] OK. So did you get the do you get the whole international crowd or do they carve out. I'm assuming you guys had 50 to 100 accounts. I mean, that account manager at Etsy, they must have thousands of customers, right?
[00:13:28] Yeah. But we were like the team that I was on was only dealing with the top customers are at the top sellers on the Etsy platform. So I had a ramp, one hundred twenty accounts that I was working at. And you're exactly right. I was covering the German market. So the German topsiders and also U.S. top sellers.
[00:13:47] A hundred and twenty accounts. One hundred and twenty. For those of you who don't know what that's all about. That is that is a lot of work. That's what that's all about. So average seller on Etsy. I don't know if that's public information. It must be because they're publicly traded guys raise the hundred million dollars. I don't know what they're worth now, but the average seller account. What? Maybe, you know. Five thousand dollars a year. Ten thousand dollars a year.
[00:14:15] The average I'm not sure the accounts that I was working were definitely made a lot more than that. Wow. Interesting. And if you think about it, you can make like real big money with selling pillowcases on Etsy.
[00:14:31] Wow. Interesting. Well, you know what? Thinking about your background in import export. You may have wanted to just kind of import export and sell some stuff on Etsy. I'm sure the thought crossed your mind. Right?
[00:14:44] That thought crossed my mind that the Etsy policies back in the day were like more, that it really had to be handmade. So you can just import stuff from Asia and resell it on Etsy. I think we sent me a change. The policy's a little bit. And they also changed our mission to just keep commerce human. But they allow some more reselling now, as far as I know.
[00:15:11] Got it. So. So thinking about this evolution of your career, it's always been commerce. It's always been goods, you know, starting out not with the E in front of the commerce. And then when you get into Etsy, did you start to notice a lot of the problems that the small businesses were facing, maybe noticing their their payment problems, their supply chain problems? And when I mean payment problems, I mean, they're making this stuff. I'm assuming people don't pay them right away. Right. You know, maybe maybe they're on net 30, maybe their suppliers or charging them for goods in advance. They're building these goods if they're handcrafted and then they have to sell them. So there's probably, you know, a payment gap between when they buy the raw product, they make something and then they sell it. And then there's another gap. When they sell it, when they receive payment and there's probably returns in reward. Like it's I'm assuming you got exposed to a lot of the payment pain while you were at Etsy is as well, right?
[00:16:18] Yeah, absolutely. And the biggest pain point for Etsy Santarus when it comes to payments that I noticed is exactly what you described is because it is most of the time handmade products, you have to purchase the raw material like your pillowcases or to make whatever you're selling on Etsy. So you invest in that raw material and then you have to produce it. So there goes your time and you would you want to pay yourself a salary or maybe not. So you're out of that money while you produce the goods that are listed for that to have to pay. And then you have to sell it. So Etsy is good with paying their salaries. There is actually no delay. So as soon as the buyer pays on Etsy, the seller can get their money a couple days later. But there is definitely this gap in payments from preparing, from getting the raw material to the actual sale. Then another another pain point for exercise that I noticed is they really depend on the Etsy platform. And we also, like when I was on the account management team, we also helped them expand their business. With regard. To think about it was back in 2016. So it was like, how do you build your social media strategy? How do you create your Instagram account? How do you advertise your products? So another cash flow issue that they were having is like, oh, if I want to have my own Web site inside my Etsy shop, how do I drive traffic to my Web site? How much do I have to spend for advertising and where do I get the money from? So that was definitely one of the pain points that I saw with Etsy sellers.
[00:18:07] Yeah, which which brings us to Payability, which has been your baller move for about three and a half years now.
[00:18:15] So tell us how you found out about Payability in and how they convinced you to leave Etsy, because that seems a great company, right? Pay abilities, a great company, too. But they're not. One hundred million dollars in funding. I don't think maybe. I don't know. I didn't see that on Krunch base. But you got a you know, you've got this great gig. How did how did the Payability gig come into fruition?
[00:18:40] Yes. I didn't find out about Payability Payability found out about me and they actually approached me to join on that client services team. And I think that is where, you know, my love for startup work came back, like Etsy was such a great place to work. The team was amazing, but it was a bigger company, though they still refer to themselves as being a startup. And they definitely have the start mentality. And I really enjoyed it. But joining payable, I think it was the. 15TH person or 17th person in the company, so that was kind of the environment that I noticed that I really, really enjoy. So I made the decision or I was convinced to join the company and I'm not looking back. So we have a great decision.
[00:19:29] That's a great decision. You made the right choice. And I mean, hey, there's nothing against large companies, but it does require a certain kind of mentality to work at a large company. Right. You can't you just you just kind of fall in the wheel, right. And you get turned up in the wheel with everybody else. And it's really difficult to make any real progress or it feels really difficult to make any real progress because there's so many layers. You're going to layer four layer for a layer. Going back to the pillow case example, they'll be like putting three pillowcases on a pillow. Like, I don't even understand why you would need that. But anyway, I've never you know, I've worked at some pretty big companies, but never really understood why they over index on the layers.
[00:20:18] Oh, no, I agree. It's like working in an a bigger company always comes with S and politics always comes with a little bit more red tape. So yeah, I really enjoyed making this transition into the startup world and just being able to build a team from scratch to figure out the customer experience and to help e-commerce Sallas from a different angle and not really help them so much with navigating a certain platform, but with really providing them the financing, providing them with the money and the capital to grow their businesses. So that was what I was brought on to, to do at PayPal.
[00:20:58] So let's talk about let's talk about the big idea or why Payability even exists. What what is it? What's the big idea here? What you guys do?
[00:21:09] Yeah. So the big idea is to help e-commerce businesses grow. And the idea started with with Amazon. So on Amazon, if you're a seller on Amazon, Amazon only pays you every two weeks. So when you have a sale today, you will have to wait two weeks until you get the money from Amazon. So Payability, build a product to solve this cashflow daily. And it's called our instant access. So if you sign up with capability, we would pay you 80 to 90 percent off your shift orders the very next day. So that way you as some seller can reinvest that money into buying more inventory into appetizing into your operations. And that way you can grow your business faster.
[00:21:59] Wow. In debt. So that's pretty amazing. So we go from, you know, a two week lag. So. So how does that work, though, don't you? Are you guys afraid that you don't have the history behind these sellers? Do you hook up to their quick books to hook up to their Amazon account? You guys have some kind of algorithms that understand credit risk or fraud. How do you like that Solms? This sounds really complicated, actually. Sounds really hard.
[00:22:26] Yeah, it's it sounds very hard, but we figured it out over the past five years. So our solutions are highly integrated with Amazon. So we don't. We still run capability with a relatively small team where 70 people and two offices in New York and in Poland currently more or less remote due to the Corbetts situation. But our focus is to really invest in technology to make sure that the robots do the work. And when it comes to determining risks is that we don't follow the traditional risk high risk models that your bank or that competitors would use. Instead, we look at the selling history. So we don't check the owner's credit score, for example, to determine. Oh, do you. Do you qualify for financing? No, we hook up with your Amazon store. We would look at your selling history and we would look at the Amazon risk. And based on that, we have figured out how to underwrite these type of, ah, these types of e-commerce sellers and to make super quick decisions based on machine learning models that we have set with data from over five years. Wow. Then you can make risk decisions and underwrite people within 24 hours.
[00:23:48] Got it. So are you. So a generic solution. For a customer, maybe back before portability existed, maybe go down to Wells Fargo. Walk into a branch and ask your banker, hey, I need a loan. Right. And then they would probably start to ask you to download all of your documents from. Amazon in quick books. And then they would want to come into your office and probably see the inventory, which probably doesn't exist because it's got a boat from China. Right. I just don't even know. You know, it's interesting. Are banks even equipped to lend in this fashion to an e-commerce business? I mean, I should probably know this, but I mean, I wouldn't even think that they would have the capability to do this unless there's a lot of scale at that e-commerce business, because you guys lend to people that only have a couple thousand dollars in sales. Right.
[00:24:50] Yeah, we do, that's our minimum requirements. It's, yeah, just a couple months selling history and a minimum of like two thousand in sales a month. And yeah, you could probably try to go to your local bank to get a loan. But that is really the niche that Payability has focused on just this, really figuring out and determining the risk for this certain type of business. And that is why we've been so successful over the past five years, because no one is now with Colvert. Everything looks a bit different. But before COVID, this was really like. Yeah. An area where not many of the traditional financing companies were focused on. And also, if you look at other small business lenders in this space, they had a portfolio that was not only targeted towards e-commerce site, but also towards food trucks like other kinds of businesses and PayPal. And it was really always specialized on the e-commerce sector. And now that really pays off for us.
[00:26:00] Yeah. So, so. So how does this work? What platforms are you integrated with? You know, I just heard about Amazon. Arguably, the world's not arguably it is the world's largest e-commerce platform. You got shop, you got Shopify. Think Wal-Mart is getting in the game. You know, there's Etsy. We already talked about Etsy. There's probably there's eBay. Right. Like, I don't know how many of these things are. Weezer's is going to be like 10 or 15 of these things. Right. Or how many of these things are you guys integrated with right now?
[00:26:39] Yeah, absolutely. We have customers on most of these marketplace for this and most of these selling farms. And the biggest one, as you say, is, is Amazon for sure. And just if you think about. Yeah. What Amazon did for these e-commerce sellers, that just giving them the opportunity to sell their stuff online and to build their businesses online and they'll capability has figured out this financing piece for e-commerce sellers on Amazon. The other big one is certainly Shopify for us, especially for ours. So we have two products. One is the Danti capital that I mentioned that is really, really targeted towards Amazon sellers because of this two week payment delay. And then we also have a cash advance product that our customers can use for inventory and advertising. So it's this growth capital and that really works well for Shopify, for eBay, for Etsy sellers. So everywhere where we just need this extra money to bring your business to the next level.
[00:27:42] Yeah, well, that's really interesting. I'm assuming you have some you know, I saw your trust pilots scores. Everybody loves you guys. Of course. I mean, maybe maybe give me the reaction of a seller who's, you know, been connected with Payability. Maybe you can tell me, you know, like a couple quick success stories that no, I don't know you guys, based on what you've been able to do for them, can you 10x their business in a year? I know you can't say that. You know, as a marketing piece. But, I mean, can you give us a few success stories that would say, look, without Payability, these guys wouldn't even exist and they exist today and they grow today because of portability?
[00:28:26] Yeah, and that is definitely what we hear from many of our customers. And that is also what keeps me motivated in my role because I work on the customers. Are I around the customer experience team? So my mission is really to make sure that our customers are happy with the service, that the platform works, that the reporting works, and that they know that they get the help they need from Payability to put that money to work and to get the financing when they need it to bring their business to the next level. And that is the most rewarding feedback that we can get from customers. One example is, especially when it comes to growth, capital is like, say, someone has the next big idea, which is also super important for e-commerce sellers. Imagine you have a product that goes really well, but at one point you need to diversify and come up with the next big thing. So that is when usually when customers or when our customers need this called capital. So that is where PayPal comes in. And based on the song history, we would determine, OK, you'll qualify. Here is your cash bands and then our customers can go ahead, order their inventory from China or from Asia or wherever there they are getting it from, and then they can sell it online, resell it, grow their business. And we really enable them to go this next step and to build out the second product line or whatnot or really invest in advertising. And with that, bring more buyers to their to their site and double or triple their sales and bring their business to the next level. And that is certainly what we have been seeing and what keeps us going and what keeps us motivated when our customers are using the money to to really bring their business to the next level. That is the most rewarding thing.
[00:30:18] Yeah, it feels like to me that, you know, small businesses I mean, we're small business agencies, a small business. But it seems to me that money. If you just think about money by itself, it's it's just a commodity, right?
[00:30:36] And so customers are probably expressing other things to your team that follow the money. It's probably not necessarily the money. Right. So are you guys having, like, deep discussions with these customers about their product development plans, their plans for growth? And, you know, you guys have to get comfortable with that before you get the money in. The money's like, look, we're your partner. It's not about the money. Obviously, you guys do that eventually. But are you having a lot of interesting product development discussions?
[00:31:15] You'd made a comment earlier about, you know, indirect customer business, direct to consumer businesses. You'll just be copied, right? Like, if you make a pillow case today and it's a runaway hit, someone's going to get on Amazon, figure out your supplier and they're going to make the same pillowcase for half the price. That's just how life works, unfortunately. So if we think about money as a commodity and they can get it from a bank or they can get it from some competitors or people that look like you guys, are you having really interesting innovation discussions with these sellers?
[00:31:49] So, again, our our underwriting model is more based on the selling history. And like your sales and your account health. So it's not a requirement to really tell us what you're using the funds for. However, we make sure that our customers and all of that hate this money is meant as growth capital. So don't use it on anything else because that will hurt your business on them in the long run. Like, really make sure that because the money in a smart way. And then just to speak from my experience on my team, because my team is really on the phone with customers all day, every day. So we have a lot of great conversations with customers about when they want to refinance their cash advances or just yet because or they ask for it, like how the products work. And then you get into this conversation about like, oh, and how did you use the funds and what do you like about Payability? And they really tell us these stories off. Yeah. This is like my next idea and this is what I want to use the money for. So while it's not a requirement, that's certainly something that comes up just in building these customer relationships and learning about what our customers do with PayPal. Any money?
[00:33:08] Yeah, I know you guys have a longstanding, defensible business, but at the end of the day, people can generally get money anywhere, right? So if you don't have a good 16, you don't have a good operations team, you don't have a good client team, you don't have a good kind of human behavior wrapped around your culture, even if you're a little bit more expensive.
[00:33:30] And I don't know, you know, the ins and outs of your expense ratios and how that works from a financing standpoint. That's not we're here to talk about.
[00:33:39] But the end of the day, if you're a customer experience and you're the person in charge of that team, if if you're leading there, I just think you always think you always win. Right. Your customers will always call you. No matter what your product. You better your people will be better. You see that. You see the human element, even though there's money involved, you see people coming back because of that that customer experience that you guys provide.
[00:34:06] Yeah, absolutely. And that is one of my. Yeah. One of my personal goals and something that is super, super important to me personally, because when it comes to dealing with people's money and when it comes to providing financing, it always comes down to trust. So if you are payable a customer and you'll have a question, we provide phone support. And when you call a support line, you will speak to a real human right away. And that is also something that stands out about the customer experience that we provide, especially if you think about that, our customer base. They are used to selling on bigger marketplaces and bigger selling platforms that may not offer this level of personal support where you can just dial a number and speak to a real human being right away. So that is also what my team gets trained on. Just by speaking to our customers, how do these marketplaces operate? What are their pain points there? And what when can we pay Buli due to ease these pain points for our salaries? So I, I will say, and I that is also the feedback that we're getting from customers like the customer experience team and just making sure that we invest in providing this level of support. Definitely pays off.
[00:35:28] Yeah, you'd be interested. Two, to figure out how many bets you guys have placed with new product innovators. If you could just like tag that in some way and then figure out, OK, we we put this tag on this money. I know we're not in charge of the money. We check. We don't we challenge our clients to do the right thing with it, not go buy yachts and go to the beach. Although you could use it that way. That would just mess up your credit with pay a bill. But it would be interesting to understand, like for how many clients that call you and they tell you what they're going to use the money for. Anecdotally, just like qualitatively, hey, we're going big on new product development. And then you go back and look at that historically and go, well, the bets we made funding the new product development rather than maybe marketing marketing would be a different bet. Maybe that plays into the algorithm as well. It probably already does. You guys are pretty smart, but it would just be interesting to see how many times that actually worked out. In in how big it went, right? Because I would be willing to bet that if you just gave someone money for marketing the multiple on that dollar and I know you guys don't care because you're basically debt, right? There is paying debt back to you guys. But the multiple on a product innovation dollar rather than a marketing optimization dollar.
[00:36:50] I'm assuming the product innovation dollar is probably 10x the value of the dollar that's given to just expand and grow marketing. Right. Because as limited shelf life. Do they spend these marketing dollars off platform? Like, do they spend these marketing dollars on Google, Facebook, YouTube? Or do they keep those marketing dollars in platform?
[00:37:14] It really depends on what their marketing strategy looks like. So we don't. But you don't buy. We don't. We don't care. It's like if as long as you spend it on either inventory or advertising, that is totally fine. I just spend it on your business and use it to grow your business. That is our our biggest requirement.
[00:37:34] Yeah, well, it's a it's a great it's a great product, a great idea. And I've seen just new and innovative ways over the last two years for founders, entrepreneurs and small businesses to get funds. You know, I think there's some disintermediation there, you know, from banks. I mean, you think I'm just gonna go to a bank and get the money because that's a bank. That's what banks do. But you've got all these fintech now that are stepping up to the plate. And I think you'd mentioned Amazon even has a product. Shopify has a product stripe. Stripe probably has a product which is probably a little bit more for off-line in retail, physical retail location. Let's talk about COVID as it relates to Payability. Do you see a growth? Did you see just everything stay stable? Did you see a decline or what was some of the the chatter that you heard and in in customer experience around COVID?
[00:38:33] Yeah, absolutely. And if you if you think about COVID and we've covered debt to. Yeah. To the world, it's just not not great, to put it mildly. But we have certainly seen a decrease in brick and mortar sales, online sales and an increase in e-commerce sales. So our customer base barhopping, speaking day, they were growing. And some of the challenges that we've seeing with the e-commerce, our base as think about it that way, it's like they have been on they've been selling on their e-commerce platform for probably a long time before COVID. And now with COVID, one thing that they were facing is competition. So more salaries coming into e-commerce. Shifting over from brick and mortar. And then where capability help them is that provide the financing to prevent stock outs. And then another another challenge, as if they were selling like a best selling product or something that was really in demand. We all remember in March. You couldn't buy toilet paper. You can buy apparel like you couldn't get these kinds of things anymore. And that was, I guess, something that even Payability couldn't help with, like if the suppliers run out of these kinds of inventory things. There is there is no way that you can you can get it. But for the vast majority of our sellers, our financing definitely helped to make sure that they keep running a commerce business and more than that, even keep growing to wrinkle it.
[00:40:06] Yeah, that's that's great. OK.
[00:40:09] I don't know if you take your Payability head off right now or I just want to talk about, you know, Amazon's role in e-commerce moving forward and where you see, you know, companies like Etsy or companies like Wal-Mart or eBay or any of these other e-commerce platforms, you know. Do you see Amazon continuing just to run away from the pack or based on, you know, qualitative or anecdotal feedback from your base of clients at Payability? Do you see any shifts in platform or any desire to not be as close to the Amazon, the, you know, the 800 pound, you know, leader, incumbent in this space? Can you give us any insight into that?
[00:40:58] Yes. I don't see Amazon like going anywhere in the near future. I think none of us is is seeing that happen. And also, one thing to think about when it comes to sellers selling on Amazon, signing on these platforms, so much respect for these business owners, just doing everything on the platform, running their own business, figuring out how everything works, figuring out their marketing and then keep growing. I think as part of this strategy, as part of running your business online, I see that sellers need to or are looking to diversify their business, which may mean like expanding into multiple selling platforms, into multiple marketplaces. And that is also what I've seen back in my days. And Etsy is like, if you're selling on Etsy, you also have your own Web site property hosted by Shopify. You have your Facebook. You have your social media. You make sure that you drive customers to your Web site. So I certainly see what Amazon will definitely remain rather than there is. There is no question that a lot of sellers that built their brand will also look to diversify into other marketplaces.
[00:42:20] Yeah, I agree. I mean, I don't see them going anywhere either.
[00:42:24] It takes a long time to disrupt anything. I mean, you know, bookstores. Amazon disrupted the bookstore and they've been around for probably arguably thousands of years. Right. Or print as you think about print. You think about the Kindle and you think about. So I don't think there's any illusions. Hopefully there's not any delusions by anybody in our audience. Amazon's not going anywhere. What's interesting about it, though, is you start to think you start to hear the chatter from the sellers and you start to really try to understand if they're in love with the Amazon experience or forget Amazon, the Shopify experience or the Etsy experience. And at which point do they decide like. Maybe I need to build my own brand, right? I don't really own this demand engine. They don't own their audience, really. You don't I mean, like Amazon brings them that audience. Etsy brings them that audience. It is not their brand. One could argue if they're not big enough, they wouldn't be able to sustain a business like this outside of platform. Right. So do you see you see any work on behalf of these sellers to try to establish and build their own brands rather than just saying, hey, OK, I'll just expand to another platform, another platform? You see any appetite by them to to want to build their own brands off platform?
[00:44:01] Yeah, I think it really depends on the business you more you're looking at. And if that is also what I've seen with Etsy, it's honest. If they at one point build a strong brand and you can you can see from the search terms or you can see that people, consumers are searching not for something like that on Etsy, but are searching for the store name, searching for the brand. Then it's definitely time to build your own Web site. If you're already you're already late for that. So that is certainly it's like you need to build your brand and your audience first, because if you're just reseller on Amazon, what's the point, really, of having your own Web site? Because as you say, Amazon brings to the audience and people find you because you're selling on Amazon. However, if you have a really unique product and you have figured out how to how to drive consumers there and how to how to do effective marketing, then it may be time to build your own Web site as well. But also something to keep in mind that as an entrepreneur, and especially if you're if you're running a small business and you have limited resource IT resources, it's also, again, a lot of your right to also maintain your Web site, to invest them to marketing, marketing and to make sure that you do it right, because there is also nothing worse than having your own Web site and it just doesn't look professional and it doesn't look great. That may also take away from your brand and hurt your business rather than giving you the boost that you're looking for.
[00:45:38] Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And I got to tell you, with the you know, all the copy of Facebook, Google and Amazon now, I think between the three of them, they hold more than 80 percent of all the ad dollars. So in order for you to build your own brand, one of those three are going to get your money. Like most of it or all of it. Right. It's not like you're gonna go put an ad on the front page of Yahoo! Right. I don't even know who reads Yahoo anymore. I think people read that they're a great company where they were. But, yeah, that's that's really interesting. So. All right. Well, look, you've worked with tons of entrepreneurs, tons of small businesses. You've been on these network platforms. You've seen the network effects. You. You understand, you know, customer experience. You're building solutions for us and BS. If if our audience, which it is founders, entrepreneurs, we're looking for like a word of advice from you, based on your current experience, what would you know, what piece of advice would you offer the people in the audience? Give me one or two or three or just one or.
[00:46:51] I think one can one huge aspect of starting your own business and being an entrepreneur, as I said, I have so much respect for everyone was that, yep, I had this great idea and I'm doing this now. So first of all, I kudos to you. But then also it's a lot of work. So the first thing that I would probably say is yallock you really have to think it through and never give up. And I don't have people to tell, you know, and just like if you believe in it, like go for it. I think it's really like this. This next level, I've never tried this like myself to to start something on my own. So I can't even really relate. But what I've what I've seen successful entrepreneurs do is we're not taking no for an answer and really believing in themselves and just pushing their idea forward and never giving up.
[00:47:46] Well, that's great advice. I mean, I would argue. I mean, even if you haven't started your own business, you've been in the driver's seat and you've heard these conversations. And for you to understand that and tell our audience that is is really important because I don't think I don't think people understand how hard it is. And, yeah, it's literally a state of mind and you can not give up. You literally could be on your last buck and you could do like you really. You literally have to say I might want to go sleep in my car if this doesn't work. And if you're not if you're not really willing to think that way about your idea, I don't know why anybody else would give you money or invest in you or if you're not willing to go all in on your own idea. I don't know why anyone else would want to, you know, so strap up, get ready for the hard work. It's common and it takes years. It doesn't happen overnight. I think 100 percent agree there. Some people got lucky. Maybe. And that's what you hear in the popular the popular medias, the the glitz and glamor and the Ferraris. But for every one of those stories, there's like a thousand others who absolutely fail. So you really have to carry that belief system. Well, Mareike, thank you so much for being on the show, everyone. Mareike Turner is the director of Operations and Sea X. That's customer experience. For those of you who've been living under a rock. She works at Payability, a New York City based fintech company that provides financing and payment solutions purely to e-commerce sellers. Nobody else. Just e-commerce. If you don't do e-commerce. Go to a bank, I guess. I don't know. I don't know where you're going to go. It's not it's not their problem. Anyway, Mareike, thank you very much for being on the show. It's been very enlightening. And we look forward to hearing back from you soon.
[00:49:45] Thanks for having me. All right.