Congratulations to the winner of the 2016 Deloitte Fast 50 - Pushpay! These are the guys helping to make payments to organisations and charities fast and easy with their mobile non-point of sale system. We had a chat with co-founder, Chris Heaslip, who explained the journey it's been to get where they are today.
How was Pushpay born?
Pushpay was born on a Sunday morning when my co-founder Elliot was in church and he had a phone in one hand and a credit card in the other and he thought 'why can’t I make a payment as fast and easy as it is to buy a song on iTunes?'
What’s been the highlight of running your company this year?
The highlight has been the people working at Pushpay - that’s what makes it so exciting to come to work here - but it’s also the difference that Pushpay makes in the lives of those in the world who are using the product on a daily basis.
This year, Pushpay saw 1 billion dollars being donated to charities and that was really exciting! We’ve seen organisations now supporting tens of thousands of orphans in Africa from the additional money they receive from people using Pushpay.
You’re really growing in the US but how are you seeing the uptake in New Zealand?
Because payments in New Zealand are much more innovative through internet banking we haven’t seen the uptake here as much as we have in the US and hence we don’t have as much benefit in the local community.
In the US, the way people make payments is through cash and cheques so when we brought a digital product to them we saw that people gave more and in bigger amounts because the software is intuitive and easy to use. It's great because we're seeing those who would not have given before begin giving and giving more often.
At present, we have about a 1.5% market share in the faith sector. There are over 1.4 million non-profits in the US so that’s a big opportunity for us.
What’s been the biggest challenge of growing Pushpay?
On 1 December 2014, we ran out of money and it was the single hardest day of my life because I felt we’d let people down. Then on 5 December, Peter Huljich, who was a complete stranger to us at the time, came into our offices and went on to invest two million dollars. The moment we closed that round of funding actually allowed us to go on and do what we do today. If we had not met Peter the company would certainly not be where it is today.
Who do you look up to in business?
My business heroes are anyone who has set up and founded multiple successful startups. I think of the Paypal team who grew their business from scratch in just a little over three years to become a 1.5 billion dollar company and then went on to found multiple other startups.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
It sounds very common but it’s very true, which is to hire the single best people that you can afford. You can’t go wrong hiring great and amazing people but you can go wrong hiring seemingly cheap and affordable people. We’ve had to remind ourselves to aim higher and attract amazing people to come and be a part of the Pushpay story.
What’s your advice to others?
It doesn’t matter where you start, it matters how fast you learn and how fast you put those learnings into practice. So start aggressively and pursue the goal.
Don’t underestimate what you can achieve in the long term. Launch out, start small, invest your own money and then grow and figure it out as you go. If you don’t believe in your own story, how can you expect other people to invest in it?