Simone Mancini and Matthias Trusheim
1. Please give us some background on your story – where do you originally come from, and what inspired you founding Scalapay?
Simone Mancini, CEO & Co-Founder, Scalapay: Before founding Scalapay, Johnny Mitrevski (now CTO of Scalapay) and I worked for a payment company in Australia. We learned first-hand the challenges retailers face during those years, such as customer acquisition, conversion, retention, and associated time-consuming back-office tasks. We concluded that the time is right for something better and simpler. We developed Scalapay to help merchants growing their business using installments and, at the same time, offer consumers a better shopping experience.
2. Who was your first customer?
Simone Mancini: We started our journey with Scalapay in 2019 in Italy; our first customer was the internationally known major Italian brand of pret-a-porter fashion Liu Jo. We contacted the merchant – and started to do business together. The time was right for an easy instalment payment solution. A solution that offers flexibility and a better shopping experience. This is exactly what drives us every day. To make the whole checkout process – online or instore – more pleasant and easy.
3. Could you describe your go-to-market experience and the phases of scaling the business?
Simone Mancini: After our launch in Italy in 2019, we were able to make our idea fly quickly: Within the first half of the year, we had already processed transactions with a value of 21 million; within the first year and a half, we doubled the companies’ size and tripled its value. We acquired over 1.000 merchants in Italy in our first year of the business.
Our perspective is exciting – E-commerce is on the rise; we also see a change in customer behaviour. Instalment payment is meeting modern customer requirements – especially with digital natives: Rather than going to a bank, filling out lengthy applications and waiting 3-6 weeks to get a credit card, they use instalment payments – which take 2 minutes to sign up for and give instant approval.
4. Which was the most challenging phase, and what would you have done differently?
Simone Mancini: As a young founder, you always have your challenging moments. Founding Scalapay was no exception. I’ve spent most of my life in Australia, but we decided on the Italian market with its opportunities in retail spendings and the lack of any real BNPL competition. Launching a company is hard enough; doing so in a new country is even more challenging – especially in the early days when you are doing sales, marketing, support, legal and all the other tasks by yourself. But looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing; we came up with the right solution at the right moment.
5. When did you decide to expand into the German market?
Matthias Trusheim, General Manager DACH Scalapay: The launch in Germany was the logical next step in an ambitious growth plan of becoming the number one BuyNowPayLater provider in Europe. The consumers’ behaviour has changed rapidly in the past, and it is now time to make use of this market potential, to offer payment as a value-added shopping service, to provide Germany with the purchasing power it now needs and support merchants in a time of rapid change from traditional forms of retail to a digitally-driven market.
We launched Scalapay in Germany in January 2021 and since then, we are already rolled-out at the first major German retailers. The interest is growing fast, and the demand is there – so we will soon have new success stories to report.
6. When did you first decide to raise venture capital, and what has been your approach to financing growth over the years?
Simone Mancini: Growth, especially such rapid growth as ours, needs strong partners to leverage a significant market potential in several markets within a short period.
We were able to secure a total of 41 million euros in funding in 2 financing rounds. Thanks to the support of solid investors such as Fasanara Capital, Baleen Capital and the Italian Family Office Ithaca Investments, we could accelerate the roll-out across Europe to help even more international retailers successfully adapt to changing consumer habits and new ways of trading.
7. Building a FinTech company, can you name three things founders should get right?
Simone Mancini: Three things we did right by founding Scalapay: first off, we understood the potential of evolving commerce between digitalization and changing customer needs and developing a solution that adds value. By providing payment as a shopping service, we enable merchants to offer a holistic shopping experience – including the critical checkout process. Finally, we see it as an essential part of our success to having developed these products from the customer’s perspective: Where do merchants still need to achieve customer satisfaction and thus generate more revenue without having to go through expensive marketing efforts?
Matthias Trusheim: Having the right idea at the right moment is crucial – and then it’s always about the same thing: it’s about 20% inspiration, 80% transpiration. And in the end, do it! Don’t be hesitant. Always with the mindset – how would I do this if I were making it for my best friend.
8. What’s on the priority list for you and your team for the next year?
Simone Mancini: Besides all the other things, we want to focus on what makes us different: If you look at the other players in the market, it’s only about payments, making payments easier or better in some way. We are about supporting the merchants with the tools they need to offer the best customer experience – this goes beyond payments. Plus, creating a shopping experience. Payments are an essential part, but we align ourselves with two of the critical metrics that merchants have (reducing the cost to acquire customers and increase customer lifetime value).
This will become much more obvious shortly when our new product launches, moving beyond payment.
Matthias Trusheim: On the other hand, the consistent realization of our growth is our main focus. Our solution creates security for retailers and provides purchasing power for the German market: In economically uncertain times, consumers need the flexibility to continue making purchases – without interest and the required flexibility. This includes strategically acquiring large enterprise customers. And this goes hand in hand with the full implementation of our growth strategy – in terms of workforce, the commitment of important key players and innovative drivers of the market.
9. Where is the financial services sector headed in the next 12-18 months, and what should we be watching out for?
Simone Mancini: We all have to adapt to the structural change in retail. More and more retailers are going online because that’s where the customers are. And they face a battle for customer attention; with advertising measures, this can be expensive. As a consequence, retailers are looking for providers who offer innovative payment solutions that help them meet their clients’ demands. For providers of financial services, this means that they have to respond to changing buying habits – with innovative solutions that can keep pace with the expectations of the high-spending target groups of millennials and digital natives.
Matthias Trusheim: A look at current developments in the BNPL market shows how important it is for financial services to keep an eye on customer behaviour and respond quickly with suitable solutions: Younger target groups scarcely use credit cards – if at all, while mobile payments are experiencing rapid and sustained growth. Innovative instalment payment solutions such as Scalapay are only the inevitable consequence. They offer credit card payment’s financial flexibility but supplemented by a manageable and straightforward instalment payment model with a much higher convenience factor.
The next step is imperative to realize this convenience and flexibility on a more comprehensive scale. We not only focus on ourselves but try to sensitize consumers for the BNPL potential overall. On March 06, 2021, we will present the first Live Stream Event of the BNPL market: “Scalapay goes Live! BNPL: What’s Next” is bringing game changers and market experts together in various panels that are tailor-made for enterprise and SMB merchants. We also will announce a new product with a unique new approach on shopping & customer experience that doesn’t exist yet. All information is available at www.scalapay.live.
10. Your favourite place(s) for a meal, coffee or drink?
Simone Mancini: A small coffee shop just behind the corner in Piazza S. Alessandro in Milano is my favourite place.
Matthias Trusheim: At the moment, you can meet me at my laptop in our Munich department for any meal or drink. In regular times you will find me in one of Munich’s beer gardens with my laptop and leather pants – “Bits&Pretzels”-Style.
You may also join Scalapays LIVE TALK on May, 6th 2021 15:15 CET: www.scalapay.live