Secrets of Success: Ralph Rogge, CEO of Open-Banking Startup Crezco
Providing an online checkout for B2B businesses without the need for card-schemes like Visa or Mastercard.
Crezco is a business-to-business open banking payments platform that makes B2B invoice payments as frictionless as card payments but without the associated costs, processing account-to-account payments up to £1 million in real-time for free. CEO Ralph Roggee, speaks to Business Matters
What type of businesses do you work with?
We typically work with UK and EU small businesses, many of whom have connected our payment processing API with their accounting software, such as QuickBooks and Xero. Others use our app directly or connect to us through some of our integrated booking and supply-chain platforms.
What problem does your company solve?
Online checkouts that rely on card-schemes are not suited to B2B businesses. They’re expensive, subject to fraud, chargebacks, delayed settlement times and payment limits. They were simply not intended for B2B businesses as they were originally built for in-person point-of-sale payments. Crezco was built with the sole purpose of facilitating B2B invoice payments. Payments via Crezco are not subject to fraud, chargebacks, delayed settlement times, or low payment limits – our maximum is £1 million per payment.
What is your USP?
We are the only checkout solution which can process up to £1 million instantly and for free – without any hidden costs.
What are your company values? Have you ever had them challenged and if so how have you dealt with it?
We have been very clear with our company values – Customer Centric, Collaborative, Human, Innovative and Outcome Driven. These were not prescribed, but carefully curated by the entire team.
We are a startup that is passionate about tackling challenges, whether this is about building new complex payment products, ensuring the company maintains its collegiate atmosphere and sense of ownership or care for our customers.
How do you ensure that you recruit a team that reflects your company values?
Recruitment is difficult but we also know the importance of our first team hires. We are aware that the first 20 or 30 hires can build the foundations of our company and will determine Crezco’s growth in the next ten-years. This is why our hiring process is very structured and data-driven. It is not a drawn-out process, we ask all candidates the same questions and we get as many existing team members to score the interviewer independently across various variables, both professional and personal. It’s also really important to sell ourselves. Sometimes we meet great candidates who choose to accept a job elsewhere. Hiring is a relationship which needs to look and feel attractive to both parties.
Are you happy to offer a hybrid working model of home/office post-covid?
Crezco was founded during the pandemic, so hybrid working is in our culture and DNA. Stereotypically, at least in start-ups, fin-techs or otherwise, working-from-home (remote work) breeds strong processes, while office-work helps foster camaraderie. To further generalise, developers are strong with the former and business with the latter. A hybrid culture teaches you to value both.
Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?
Communication is so important. We want happy suppliers and happy customers and, if we ever appear to fall short of their expectations, we need to communicate why. People are very understandable, we’re human after all, and so if we are sincere in our reasoning, then both suppliers and customers show more patience and understanding. However, it’s easier to just deliver as expected or better than expected.
Any finance or cash-flow tips for new businesses starting out?
Given we have built an online checkout solution for instant payments, without fees, I would highly suggest integrating with Crezco. Whether it has been to get invoices via Xero or QuickBooks paid, or as an e-commerce checkout alternative to Stripe, our customers have found with Crezco they not only save on fees, but get paid sooner.
If you could ask one thing of the government to change for businesses what would it be?
Last February (2021), the Chancellor commissioned a report setting the scene and strategy for FinTech in the UK. Named the Kalifa report after its author, Ron Kalifa, the ex-CEO of payment giant Worldpay. There are some great recommendations within to help support the industry in the UK covering: regulation, talent, acquisition, and investment. I would like the Government to follow the suggested strategies to assure the UK maintains its international attractiveness for FinTech players given the huge recent rise in competition from the Continent. For example, Open Banking was an incredibly innovative proposition by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority when first originally introduced, but it remains an unfinished project, and the rest of the world has caught up. We need to maintain focus and finish what we started.
What is your attitude towards your competitors?
From time-to-time, a competitor raises an obscene amount of money. It can leave you paralysed, like a deer in headlights, unsure of how to react or where to turn next. Every company is unique and so are their trajectories to success. Competition is good because it helps us to better position ourselves and to deliver exceptional value to our customers.If there was no competition, it would be because we’re building something nobody sees value in.
Any thoughts on the future of your company and your dreams?
My focus is to build a product and service that solves one of the biggest headaches for small business. Crezco is pioneering B2B invoice payments – the only checkout solution which can process up to £1 million instantly and for free – without any hidden costs. My aim is to continue to ensure that we do not lose track on delivering value for all our stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders and partners) for as long as possible.