This is a guest blog written by WayPay’s VP of Marketing Paul Abrams.
As I sat down to write this piece, I quickly realized that this was the first time I consciously thought about the last six months of our business and the incredible trajectory that we are fortunate to be riding. In mid-July we received an invite to participate in the first round of interviews for 500 Startups. We had submitted our application to this prestigious “startup accelerator” only a few days prior. We hadn’t quite wrapped our heads around the fact there was the potential to actually be accepted. Less than a week after our interview, we received the call…we were headed to San Francisco…we had been accepted to 500 Startups!! Being a 3-year old company, we might not classify as a “startup” in the truest sense of the word, but with global expansion on our 2018 strategic plan, this would help make that a reality, sooner.
Within one week of our acceptance, several of our leadership team (Roberto Ramesar, Co-Founder & CEO; Robert Bast, Co-Founder & CRO; and myself, Paul Abrams, VP Marketing) were on board a plane to San Francisco for the next four months. All of us, with VERY understanding wives (and children), made the easy decision to fully embrace all that 500 had to offer and moved to SF.
Very quickly upon entering the program, we realized the enormous potential this would provide our business. As a player in B2B FinTech, we were immediately surrounded by the brightest and most savvy players in our space. The mentors, advisors, and general 500 network were unlike anything we’d seen before. As one of thirty “Batch 22” companies (eight in the FinTech stream), we also had the ability to sit amongst and share learnings with founders from all over the globe – Russia, Israel, Italy, Portugal, UK, Argentina, South Africa, and Nigeria. Canada was well represented – with three companies in Batch 22.
The programming and mentorship that was provided on a daily basis was unreal. Real-life, tactical coaching on everything from raising capital in The Valley to customer acquisition and growth strategies. Weekly sessions with a curated group of mentors and advisors ensured we received regular direction, validation and expertise as we implemented real-time solutions in our business. We were fortunate to have a highly dedicated team back in our Burlington office that would help us execute against our continuous and evolving growth plans. Staying closely connected to our team back home was vital to the overall success of our time at 500.
Having returned home in early November, we can confidently say that our time in SF was well spent and that we have taken one giant leap forward in our business. Our relationships and network are now more diverse, more global, more well-rounded, and more informed. While our work is far from complete, our involvement with the 500 family has provided us a solid foundation for our 2018 plans.
Beyond the walls of 500 Startups on Mission Street, the culture and infrastructure to support “tech” in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley are beyond compare. It was an honour and privilege to be immersed in this culture, if even temporarily. Our team recognizes that with this honour also comes the responsibility to share our learnings locally. We are proud to be amongst the growing existence of technology companies in Ontario, and more specifically Burlington. Leaders, such as TechPlace, recognize the importance that companies like WayPay play in our local business ecosystem. TechPlace facilitates a community of sharing. Whether that sharing be amongst tech companies, or between tech and non-tech, our local business community will be stronger as a result of their efforts. We are excited to get down to work, here in Burlington, and look forward to seeing you out and about in our community.