With EarlyStage, we go deeper into some younger companies that point to trends, products and services, and entrepreneurs that should be on your radar screen.
For a space as big as commercial cards, there are still so many opportunities to make a difference for fintech and payments startups. Joining me on the show is PayEm’s co-founder and CEO Itamar Jobani.
PayEm provides a corporate card and management tools for companies to streamline their spending. PayEm’s combination of plastic and software helps company leaders approve, track and manage vendors with rules to manage budgets and projects.
Jobani joins us on the podcast to share his vision for smart commercial cards, why he founded the company, and where he plans to lead his firm.
Who it’s built for: Controllers and other financial professionals who work with corporate budgeting and spending.
Genesis Story: In a previous position, co-founder and CEO Itamar Jobani was a software developer in an Israeli company that was developing an AI tool for diagnosis of rare diseases. It was there he came to realize the pain in the credit card world. His team paid for cloud services that ultimately it didn’t use. Nobody noticed within the company. After about four months and a few thousand dollars, his office manager realized that money was being wasted.
As an R&D employee, Jobani had to fill out expense reports every month, using a platform considered to be one the best for expenses. The experience turned out to be annoying and painful, with a lot of friction around email traffic between an accountant, his direct boss, and the office manager. After a lot of back and forth for really, really simple things, Jobani decided to find a better solution. He didn’t find anything.
He turned to an old friend who is the CTO of one of the biggest credit card companies in Israel. He confirmed the size of the problem and the opportunity. Jobani and his co-founder set out to build PayEm.
The Big Idea: PayEm helps controllers and people working in finance to help streamline their corporate payments. The solution is a credit card and a management system. Clients can bring in their vendors or set them up on the fly, setting up limits on how much they can spend.
SaaS companies and other service providers notoriously enact auto-renew contracts and drive fees up over time. Large organizations work off of POs with some sort of a budget approved for a specific purpose. If they give a credit card to a vendor, companies basically give an open check to that vendor. With PayEm, organizations can set up limits and alerts, with full automation for vendor behavior.
Jobani says the company can find its competitive niche alongside firms like Brex, Stripe’s Issuing product, and Marqeta.
Growth Plans: PayEm is an early stage company focused on serving a bunch of customers. It sees these early clients as design partners as it beefs up its product and integrations.
Jobani sees this cycle as part of a major upgrade in software and infrastructure that sits on top of credit card rails. 20 years ago, companies had a finite, limited number of companies they did business with. Now, with SaaS, a small firm may have dozens of vendor relationships.
The firm is looking to expand globally. It’s also looking to mature its product and has made some recent hires to build out its talent.
PayEm isn’t targeting long tail, mom and pop businesses. It’s looking to penetrate into larger organizations with the complexity of managing international payments. For that, Jobani and team are making the most of their personal connections and asking its investors for intros into prospective clients.