- What’s the volume of b2b txn today? Does the bear market affect your short-term expectations?
- Who are your direct competitors?
- How will you be indispensable? What’s your moat?
- What does the stack of a crypto company look like, how will this evolve & where do you differentiate?
- How are companies managing this flow today?
- Can you share more about your product?
- What if Bill or other web2 incumbents build this?
- What’s the roadmap?
- How will you make money?
- Why crypto native companies first?
- Why AP/AR as the part of the stack to go after?
- Parallax: Memo + Deck
- Vision: Bring the power of crypto to all businesses!
- Need: Web3 businesses need to & increasingly prefer to use crypto for b2b pay
- Problem: But infrastructure for b2b payments hasn’t kept up
- Solution: Streamlined invoicing (AR) & bill pay (AP) in crypto
- Traction: Web3 businesses needed this yesterday
- Distribution: Viral product reinforced with accounting & ecosystem champions
- Team: Strong in product & eng; deep in crypto; experienced problem ourselves
- Growth of crypto txn volume. $15.8T in crypto txn volume in 2021, up 567% from 2020 (roughly 2/3 are b2b over b2c)
- Explosion of crypto companies. Number is big enough and companies are mature enough that they need infra to help them scale
- ~15K CB Institutional accounts alone, 2x’ed; more if including FTX, Binance Institutional
- Dapp revenue alone expected to reach $360B by 2027 (up from $30B in 2022)
- Increased desire for crypto as money movement for web2 companies. 1/3 of SMBs accept in crypto. Companies & startups (e.g. Ramp) now have crypto on balance sheets.
- Bear market not slowing down. Data showing continued 2x growth in m/m b2b invoicing volume in May 2022 vs. April. View FAQ #1 for more info.
- 10 signed partners w/ top web3 co’s. MagicEden, Solana Foundation, Triton One, Figment, Hologram, Airfoil and 4 more. Signed majority within 1 month (signaling strong need and team’s ability to execute), now must capture momentum.
- More inbound coming than we can handle.
- We want to design the right product with quality set of partners we’ve chosen & grow virally from there (e.g. Triton invoices 150 clients → x% sign up; viral network)
- Expect combined ~$3M/month in txn volume to start upon integration.
- Currently live. 1 co processed 330k worth of invoices within 2w. Completely replaced their old system, with great feedback.
- Entry point. Streamlined invoicing & bill pay in crypto; start with crypto companies feeling this pain point today. Grow network of vendors & buyers; go deeper with integrations
- Mid-term: expand on top of the network of vendors/buyers & our infra; onboard web2 companies
- Long-term: tackle the larger b2b payments leveraging our crypto b2b payments infrastructure
- Why we’ll win: enter with a product that’s a strong pain point (given speed of LOIs signed), not geographically bound (not custody-ing funds), grows inherently virally (1 company sends to 100 others) and with high network effects (rel’n bet vendors & buyers = moat)
- Focus is key. We prefer to build a great product in one function than spread ourselves thinly across all types of “payments” without doing well in one.
- Target audience: mid-market in crypto (higher WTP; less likely to default; underserved); allow us to swim upstream to enterprise and still capture long-tail
- Monetization: Historically, these types of products (in flow of funds) find ways for monetization — key is in creating that strong network.
- To start, we plan on monetizing via both a % txn and a SaaS fee ($ estimates in FAQs). Over time, we expand on vendor/buyer relationships on the platform & flow of funds, as well as monetization opportunities.
- Direct competitors: (direct = what customers say vs. what investors think)
- Biggest: Spreadsheet, copy/paste, scripts
- Companies: Coinbase Commerce, Request Finance, Gilded; in-depth comparison in FAQs
- Prev: Product leads & eng manager/tech leads. R&D hires ready upon funding.
- Prev: Experience building procurement, AP/AR solutions & accounting for growing startups.
- Interviewed 30-40+ builders, founders & crypto accountants. Felt the problems ourselves as contributors & creators.
- Deeply immersed in the crypto ecosystem; strong network of potential partners, collaborators & potential hires
- Angels committed include fintech + crypto strategics:
- CEO Superfluid (web3 payment infra), CEO Magna (Carta for web3), CEO Primer, VP Block Crypto, COO/Cofounder Acaderena (p2e for students), Head of Crypto Product @ Alt, Head of BD/Product @ Solana Foundation, Earn & Coinbase product lead, angel fund with Balaji & Naval LPs, First Ramp BD Hire & Advisor, Product Lead @ Brex, Board Member PDAX (leading Philippine crypto exchange), former Partner @ Bain Capital; investor Sorare; FB & Quora exec, ex-director LinkedIn, CEO Poised (b2b software), Head of Ecosystem @ Terra
What’s the volume of b2b txn today? Does the bear market affect your short-term expectations?
First off, our long-term goal is to enable crypto for all types of b2b payments. While we start with crypto companies (strong wedge, early adopters), the goal is to expand, & don’t feel constrained by crypto-only companies.
In the short-term:
We’re confident we can surpass 1M ARR even with the bear.
Competitor Market Validation
- In May 2022 alone, Request Finance transacted $10M in txns through its platform. This up by +$5M the previous month, even during the bear market.
- We view Request’s numbers as market validation of demand & growth.
- We believe volume is even bigger (eg $15.8T volume), especially given the demand from our current set of LOIs (who decidedly refused to use Request).
- With just our current set of 10 LOIs, we expect at least $3M/monthly in the first month (mid-market target = higher txn volumes)
- We’re also confident we can build a much better product, faster — there are reasons MagicEden, Figment, Triton, Solana Foundation are not using Request or other competitors today.
Here’s what we need to believe to get to 1M ARR in the short-term (after which we expand to other monetization opps).
- To get to 1M ARR with a blended (conservative) rate of $50/user/month (expect $100-300 over time), we only need ~12% of the current 15k biz size (given Coinbase institutional accounts, not even counting FTX, Binance) market, assuming no growth.
Txn fee only
- To get to 1M ARR, if we charge 1% (like Bill or Coinbase Commerce) we need just 30 companies transacting an average of 15,000/invoice (lower end of the average of $500 - $50k per invoice given current LOIs), 20x per month (LOI average at 30+/month).
- If we charge 1% for 100 companies, where we expect they’ll be transacting $250k monthly (this is likely more 500k but staying conservative), we can expect $3M ARR
In the scenario our assumptions for short-term TAM don’t hold true:
- We enact our strategy & expand to web2 companies that have already expressed interest in using stablecoins or crypto as the superior form of money movement, leveraging the infrastructure we built for web3 companies (we would have had to build anyway).
In the mid/long term, we can:
Our goal is to expand the crypto b2b pay use case to all types of companies, so we don’t feel constrained going after crypto companies only (just in the short-term to prove out building a good product)
- Grow and expand on top of our vendor/buyer network and our monetization opportunities. See here.
- Increase the TAM with our infrastructure:
- We’ll grow the % of crypto transactions that are happening per company
- We’ll grow the % of businesses that are transacting in crypto. We aren’t limited to web3 companies only
Our companies have told us “if you build this, we actually want to nudge all of our vendors and buyers to pay in crypto” and believe we’re on our way to realizing that future.
In the long-term, we tackle the larger trillion dollar (120T global, 20T U.S.) b2b payments market. In the mid-term, we expand our products and hence monetization opportunities
Who are your direct competitors?
While we understand the need to be aware of competition, we prioritize laser focus on solving customer problems. The bigger opportunity is to grow the overall market by growing b2b crypto transaction volume.
Don’t just take our word for it. These are reasons why our current set of LOIs are not using these products today.
These are alternatives we hear about the most from our existing customers which do not meet their needs:
- Spreadsheets, scripts, copy/pastes. Our biggest competitor today.
- Coinbase Commerce
- Built for b2c merchant (e.g. ecommerce) use case.
- Lacks basic b2b functionality such as persistent customer history.
- b2b invoicing is far from core focus, so it lacks investment and is not high priority
- Request Finance
- Built with sole prop or freelancer use case as the focus. How that manifests:
- They don’t support team accounts or have collaborative features
- They don’t have the proper bill pay workflows (very important to Magic Eden, for example) and hence won’t be able to create the same vendor <> buyer flywheel as us.
- Protocol/token play
- Splits their attention and slows product velocity due to additional complexity of developing on-chain.
- Customers are either indifferent or actively averse to the protocol implementation. Figment explicitly said they don’t want to put their business finances at risk by running payments through Request’s smart contract.
- Token does not seem to have great distribution benefits.
- Iteration speed is slow.
- They started 5 years ago. Only added invoicing capability last year.
- Token maintenance distracts from their core offering.
- They don’t have any accounting integrations even to this day (on the website but hasn’t been built out).
- Bad user experience.
- As shared by our partners. Try it and see for yourself!
- Gilded Finance
- Trying to do too many things at once, not well enough.
- Companies working with us explicitly said they’ve tried Gilded but still have to use spreadsheets anyway, so what’s the point?
- Doing NFT Ops, Payroll, AP/AR, Expense Mgt, Accounting, spraying & praying without great focus on one function, which we believe is to their detriment.
There are other companies that come up in investor conversations as potential competitors.
However, we (and customers) don’t consider them mutually exclusive or in the same category. We position ourselves today to be very focused on web3 flows and b2b workflows.
- Loop Crypto, Superfluid, Zebec Protocol - we would use their autopay services for our recurring pay needs; we’ve talked to these teams and see potential collaboration as target audience, rather than competition
- Paysail - we have the same vision to use crypto for all b2b money movement. If we get to that vision, the market is LARGE. Today, they are more focused on web2 enterprise use cases, with stablecoins as underlying infra. We focus on web3 companies and expand from there.
How will you be indispensable? What’s your moat?
- Strong network effects. As we’ve seen with incumbents like Bill.com that moved companies from paper checks to digital, network effects are very strong. Despite a relatively clunky product, Bill.com remains the market lead in AP/AR software and will take a page from their playbook.
- Winning crypto accountants and finance teams. Accountants are key for distribution and retention. Similar to Bill.com, Quickbooks, etc. we’ll incentivize distribution via accountants and, over time, they’ll be key to keeping their own clients on the platform. They’ll be first users of the product and over time, we’ll create partner & referral programs and even an accountant facing dashboard.
- Switching costs. Deep integrations with customers’ systems will make it harder and less worth it to switch. In addition to accounting and back office software, customers have expressed interest in integrating with other parts of their internal stack. For example, companies with dynamic pricing want APIs that allow management of invoices based on events within their systems.
What does the stack of a crypto company look like, how will this evolve & where do you differentiate?
In the long-term, we believe there will be a winner in every category (paralleling web2 products).
In the short-term, we strongly believe focus is key.
- Tempting to pitch to be “the all-in-one stack” for all “finance” of a company, but complicated in practice as there’s a lot to build across wallets, tokens, chains, etc.
- Even in web2, there are billion dollar businesses focused on just one function because there’s a lot to build to be very good.
- Our partners evaluated all-in-one options for vendor payments (e.g. Gilded Finance, Request) and still working with us because the functionality did not work well enough for their needs (ex. they still had to cobble spreadsheets while using the product)
However, in the future scenario that these opportunities bleed into another, the winner will be the function & company that grows quickest. Here’s how we’ll do that.
Where we differentiate & focus
We believe differentiation should focus less on specific features (changes over time) but on what the priorities, target audience, gtm and focus areas are which guide features.
Vertical focus → Going deep (in the ap/ar function) affords many benefits in stickiness, & unlocks other opportunities, that typically other horizontals (state of the solutions today) won’t prioritize. For example:
- Hearing the desire for crypto <> fiat swaps and flows which other all in one tools wouldn’t have prioritized
- Solving problems in one function (e.g. ap/ar) across a wide variety of tokens, chains, wallets is already hard to do VERY well — what more if tackling several functions at the same time.
AP/AR function/wedge → opportunity to expand quickly with viral growth and owning the vendor/buyer relationship & flow of funds. This wedge has many benefits:
- Network effects as a moat. Laser focus in this core use case will allow us to amass a network of buyers and vendors defensible over the long term
- Example: Bill.com remains the stronghold in invoice & bill pay in web2. Despite a clunky UX, it’s hard to get out of the platform because your vendors or buyers AND accountants are all there.
- Viral growth. We grow quickly with our wedge that allows us to grow virally (one vendor invoices 100+ others every month), with low CAC.
- Non-custody of funds. To start, we use existing wallets vendors and buyers prefer. We then don’t have to carry money transfer licenses and aren’t limited by geography.
Web3 mid-market (to start)
- No one has focused enough on the crypto-native mid-market as the wedge, and hence can’t address the unique needs of Magic Eden, Figment, Triton (our customers). Why haven’t they? It’s typically easier to address the freelancer or long-tail first.
- Out goal is to use this base of early adopters to onboard non web3 companies as well.
Focus on B2B payments
- Payments is a big space — we focus on b2b payments and billing. Historically B2B payments lags behind because it’s not as prominent as b2c (checkouts, etc.). But the b2b payments world is huge and involves different experiences than B2C (given the nature of higher transaction volumes).
Where we sit today
There are parallels with the web2 stack today. The b2b payments function alone in AP/AR is a whopping $125T global opportunity.
We believe the web3 company stack will have parallel companies in a similar structure with the addition of the concept of a “crypto subledger” layer.
There’s a LOT to build for each function across tokens, chains, wallets and believe focus will be key.
How are companies managing this flow today?
- He has a giant spreadsheet with a dump of customer activity
- Every month he has a script that sends an email to clients to pay
- Each wallet for each client is unique so clients are not switching wallets every time and funds are kept semi-private.
- He waits for clients to email him back their payment transaction hashes
- Often, reminder emails must be sent so that payments are not late
- He verifies it manually with the spreadsheet, making sure certain things are correct:
- Date (so it’s not a duplicate or previous payment)
- Wallet address
- He forwards the details to the accounting / finance team
- The team creates a new “bank” or account for the wallet
- The team copies each line item over to their client accounts in Xero to reconcile each transaction
- …Repeat 150 times
Bill Pay (AP)
- He asks department heads to tell vendors to email invoice PDFs to ap@magiceden.
- Sometimes he uses Asana to track and visualize it across teammates in the company, but it’s too many extra steps.
- Types of payments include:
- one-off or recurring NFT campaigns or agreements
- blockchain infra services (e.g. triton)
- agency needs (marketing, design, etc.)
- freelancers/content creators
- (soon) sponsorships need for invoices)
- He receives the PDF invoice & pulls info from the invoice to his giant spreadsheet, specifically putting in
- The amount due
- The vendor details
- Wallet address
- Official Name
- Point of Contact
- He emails the right people in the company to get approval for the payments. Most transactions need at least one approval, if not more.
- Once approved, he then pulls out the official wallet of MagicEden from FTX and sends the payment to the vendor wallet address
- He adds it to their masterlist of all customer activity on a spreadsheet
- He goes back to the email, attaches the transaction hash, and sends it to the vendor for confirmation.
- He marks the email as “paid” via a status or archive as well so it’s out of his inbox.
- He coordinates with accountants for proper bookkeeping
- Accountants will log everything manually on Quickbooks
Can you share more about your product?
- May was focused on customer validation. We intentionally did NOT want to write any line of code until we got sufficient customer validation.
- Towards the end of May, we started building a prototype specifically for one of our design partners. Within 1.5w of usage, they’ve onboarded multiple clients and processed six figures’ worth of invoices. We’ve gotten great feedback and continuing to work with them to improve the product.
- We’re currently focused on the fundraise (so we can move and build faster) while trying to make progress on our product as much we can.
Ask us for a working demo during a call.
At a high-level, here’s the workflow.
What if Bill or other web2 incumbents build this?
Bill.com is the biggest player in this space. Stripe (while often brought up) sits in the B2C space and will likely prioritize B2C crypto use cases if they ever get to building their crypto products out. B2C is very different from B2B.
- We don’t think incumbents will enter in the short/mid-term.
- They have bigger and more predictable growth by focusing dedicated resources on web2 markets.
- Web3 and crypto currently have some risk from a brand + user backlash perspective. We expect this to change in the coming years, but for now the risk/reward isn’t there
- They fundamentally need to change their financial providers & infrastructure to enable crypto companies to use their product. (ex. MagicEden was banned from using their product a couple weeks ago)
- Real-time payments cannibalizes existing revenue. Today the bill.com’s of the world charge a % transaction specifically for offsetting the slowness of ACH and wires.
- It’s more complex than face value.
- Web3 moves extremely fast and there is a cambrian explosion of new chains, tokens, and technologies which will be hard to manage alongside their existing offerings.
- The gap will be especially challenging (if not impossible) for more sales-driven orgs like bill.com who are not already strong on software + product.
- Lots of regulation (accounting & crypto) to keep track of.
- From a positioning perspective, crypto native co’s will empathize and work more with other more crypto native co’s.
- Long-term play: We position ourselves to sell to these orgs.
- By investing in product and infra up front, we actually position ourselves long term to potentially sell to this type of org (a la the Melio playbook).
(We’ve confirmed this informally with folks at Bill and Ramp)
What’s the roadmap?
We want to work closely with our design partners (we meet with them biweekly) to design out the right types of products and will prioritize features accordingly.
- Customer need. What do customers want — as we work closely with them?
- Moat / strengthened retention. What gives us the stronger, long-term moat and keeps customers on the platform?
- Short-term: Acquire users & grow strong network of vendors & buyers.
- Invoicing (AR) core functionalities
- Bill pay (AP) core functionalities
- Accounting integrations. Seamless crypto integrations, with the right price tracking into Quickbooks/Xero
- Support for various tokens. We’ll start with USDC-SPL and USDC-ETH while laying foundations to expand to more chains and token types.
- Mid-term: Expand given our strong user base.
- Wallet options. Easily generate wallets for users to send or receive payments from. Some customers are already hacking at “privacy” solutions by generating various “randomized” wallets per vendor.
- API Integrations to automate the full process, with internal systems, and build deeper switching costs
- Financial & Cash Flow Management. Done for the crypto use case.
- Swaps & Exchanges. We enable the convenience of swaps or exchange if one party wants to receive one token over the other.
- Risk & Compliance products. Given we have the history of vendors and buyers, and can build on top of these vendor and buyer relationships.
- Revenue Recognition, Accounting & Tax Products. We’ve heard from customers that automating this entire process
- Long-term: Make ubiquitous.
Handle workflows for invoicing, bill pay, and accounting integrations. The goal is to build a user base quickly (network effect) while getting exposure to the flow of funds.
Build additional products, infra and monetization opportunities on top of this strong user base, including raditional financial products such as loans/credit as well as more crypto-native products like integration with yield.
We reinforce the network effects, grow switching costs and start to monetize more heavily on transaction/withdrawal volume. In current proposed order:
Offer our infrastructure as a service for all types of b2b payments.
How will you make money?
See breakdown of estimates here.
- SaaS Subscription Fees, tiered according to sophistication of features. A common model today (a la Bill.com) is charging per seat.
- % Transaction (alternate today = Coinbase Commerce taking 1% for withdrawals)
We win by creating this strong network of vendors and buyers on the platform.
We then will also be able to add monetization opportunities after we’ve built the core relationship between vendors and buyers.
- Cashflow Management (e.g. invoice financing, deferred payments, credit)
- Crypto <> Fiat Swaps (charging % transactions as third party swapper)
- Swap Fees or Yield Growth (e.g. 0.3% in swap fees)
- And more…
Why crypto native companies first?
- Pain point is acute, opportunity is apparent. We know there’s opportunity here already and needed to be solved yesterday for crypto companies (given the speed at which they signed LOIs despite longer sales cycles). This allows us to build our infrastructure for a core group that needs less convincing & knows how a good solution should look like.
- First principles: start with early, loyal adopters. Our strategy, from first principles: start with a wedge of early adopters, build a loyal customer base and expand from there, instead of forcing the solution on others. Over time, we don't only compound on our tech but also gather strong data points (e.g how much more efficient it is to transact, etc.), proof points and case studies to make a more compelling case to expand.
- Harder sell if we made the immediate jump to web2. Conversely, if we tried to sell to traditional enterprise (e.g. Coca Cola) or other web2 companies first, without existing support infra, concrete case studies or data, it would be a steep uphill battle. (Not to mention the additional education about crypto that still has to get done). We would be stuck in implementation hell & longer sales cycles with high uncertainty of success.
Why AP/AR as the part of the stack to go after?
- Opportunity is HUGE!
- B2B payments is a $125 trillion market globally
- Fundamentally believe in power of crypto, but it hasn’t been unlocked today.
- That future combined with the opportunity of a large space is huge!
- Did our fair share of invoicing via content sponsorships, contracting.
- Companies and founders close to us were sharing this as well.
- Existing b2b players such as bill.com have shown that network effects can be strong in driving retention and stickiness.
- Owning the customer relationship and having exposure to flow of funds will position us to grow with additional products and services.
Parallax: Memo + Deck
Starting with seamless crypto invoicing, vendor or bill pay and accounting
Vision: Bring the power of crypto to all businesses!
Today we start with streamlining this process for crypto native and crypto forward businesses. We believe that if we make this infrastructure really good:
- We’ll grow the % of crypto transactions that are happening per company
- We’ll grow the % of businesses that are transacting in crypto
In the long-term, we will expand to take on the trillion dollar b2b payments space.
Need: Web3 businesses need to & increasingly prefer to use crypto for b2b pay
- Why do they prefer this? All the promise crypto has to offer.
- 96% faster settlements, 24/7 and not tied to banking hours
- More convenient especially for global transfers
- Unlock the possibilities of programmable money such as earning yield on coins and diversifying treasuries
- Businesses receiving revenue, grants, and funds in crypto prefer not to have to deal with complexities of on/off ramps every single time to pay vendors
Problem: But infrastructure for b2b payments hasn’t kept up
Unfortunately infrastructure for b2b payments in crypto just hasn’t kept up. At first glance it seems straightforward: get address, paste address, hit send. But in reality it’s more complex than that, especially for businesses.
- Crypto makes accounting complex.
- Regulation is nascent but still needs to be considered for compliance. For example: tracking cost basis across invoice lifecycle for volatile native currencies.
- Doesn’t integrate properly with existing accounting software like Quickbooks and Xero.
- Fragmented and not user-friendly. There are many chains, tokens, and addresses to keep track of. Low level tools like Etherscan are just not built for this use case.
- Different businesses have different “payment methods” or wallet types they prefer to use (e.g. Gnosis vs. non-custodial solutions vs. FTX/Coinbase Institutional products, etc.) and different preferences for tokens & chains.
- Test transactions are frequently used, given high payment values and large room for error.
- Manual & labor-intensive workflows. As a result of the above, invoices & payments are currently handled with spreadsheets, emails, and hacky scripts.
Solution: Streamlined invoicing (AR) & bill pay (AP) in crypto
- Parallax is solving b2b payments in crypto starting with the invoicing and bill pay process. We start by rapidly growing a network of vendors and buyers with a product that is easy to adopt and solves the core pain points around invoicing and bill pay workflows.
- From there, we will expand and layer on more products and services until we eventually make crypto ubiquitous for b2b payments of all kinds.
Traction: Web3 businesses needed this yesterday
In just four weeks (May) we signed multiple “mid-market” design partners while pre-product, despite supposedly longer sales cycles for that target audience.
- Buyer target: mid-market i.e. 100+ employees or have finance teams
- Vendor target: 30-100+ monthly clients
- 9 LOIs
For these partnerships, we care most about working closely with these partners to design the right workflows alongside them, running a pilot in their systems & charging commercial rates then.
We have ~4 more in the pipeline, but prefer to keep our cohort small and have quality of product & conversations vs. quality. At the point of integration, distribution is viral.
Distribution: Viral product reinforced with accounting & ecosystem champions
Core: Viral Product. The product is inherently viral since each transaction involves multiple parties. We’ll build workflows such that 1) it’s frictionless to pay but 2) the counter-party has incentives to sign up
We’ll reinforce this loop in two ways:
- Accounting Champions
- Niche tightknit community with strong word of mouth
- Accounting firms will be one of the first users of our product (they’re already invoicing folks in crypto)
- Ecosystem Champions, where they’re incentivized to be promoting payment-like products to their ecosystem
We’re currently working closely with Solana (Pay), Circle (USDC), and six crypto accounting firms
Team: Strong in product & eng; deep in crypto; experienced problem ourselves
We’ve worked on the AP/AR solutions & accounting already knowing and understanding the complexities of AP/AR even outside of web3, and integrating with accounting software for growing startups.
We’ve even dealt with these problems, invoicing and business payments, first hand, as contractors, web3 content creators and contributors, and have heard these problems time and again from builders in communities we’re a part of and started.
Our founding team has shared history working at LinkedIn, are product & engineering leads at startups, and have tinkered on various web3 projects. Examples:
- project that won at the Solana payments hackathon
- the NFT Playbook, an e-book about NFTs as an NFT
- OdysseyDAO, a community that’s 10k strong.