With the ever-growing costs of products and services, consumers are always exploring different ways to optimise their limited financial resources, and defer the payments a little bit longer via ‘buy now pay later’ options. A company like Zilch has seen an explosion in popularity over receivers and they were expected to keep growing.
So what is that rapid growth for ‘buy now, pay later’ for e-commerce and consumers? Taking ownership of the future direction of this payment method requires a deep understanding of the product market, but more importantly, the need of using the technology and a good team culture that affects the total motivation of its people.
We spoke to Philip Belamant, CEO and Founder at Zilch, about his career journey in a mobile paying business, building a digital-first solution, and ways to maintain a strong company culture.
- Philip Belamant’s Career Journey
- Adopting the Amazon Approach
- Saving the Planet With Mobile-First Strategy
- Building Digital First Solutions
- Maintaining a Strong Company Culture
- Lesson Learned
- Who is Philip Belamant?
Philip Belamant’s Career Journey
I consider myself an entrepreneur who has the capability to execute ideas – turning it into something valuable. I love building new things and affecting people’s lives for the positive. It’s always fun to create meaningful product to people’s lives.
My father is a technologist who had built cards payment business, and I created a mobile payment business that we rolled out across 22 countries in Africa as well as parts of Asia.
Today. I am the CEO at Zilch, a virtual card that allows you to ‘buy now, pay later’ anywhere, including Amazon, eBay, Ali Express, and Nike.
Everything we do here is focused on the customer. Every day we try to collect feedback from our support team on what our customers dislike and address it in our next sprint. We approach this process with strategic thinking and come up with solutions for each complaint.
I spend most of my time focusing on the liquidity of the company, investor relations, the team culture, and the strategic direction of the product. We believe that if you have a great team and phenomenal culture, you can build amazing things!
Adopting the Amazon approach
People call us a buy now – pay later company. It is the best way to split payments over time. The exciting thing about us is our unique business model. We want to take an approach like Amazon – instead of going to each book store and integrating, they went directly to the customers and built an amazing delivery infrastructure.
We are doing the same: going straight to the customer and letting them pay over time anywhere in the world in any format they want.
The later you begin the business, the more tech you have at your disposal and understanding of previous failures. Being late was an advantage for us.
I also realised that the way you build the company culture matters. Our people, especially the younger teams, want to know the impact they will have on the world.
The numbers speak for themselves. Six months ago, we had around 15 people. Now, we have 180 people and are aiming to be 200+ in the next few months.
Saving the Planet With a Mobile-First Strategy
97% of our usage is on mobile, so we do everything is mobile-first. We don’t even talk about the desktop; it’s almost irrelevant to us. We were the first to launch tap and pay overtime in the UK. We use virtual cards, this way, we don’t have to print plastic and kill the ocean – we can just generate tokens and pay online.
Building Digital-First Solutions
Nowadays, everything needs to be digital and trackable. You should keep an eye on what is scaling, who is using it, and where. What is a customer doing? Where do they get stuck? What do they like or dislike?
This is what we’re doing to answer these questions:
The first step is to ensure you have the data – people build and don’t store the data. Then, they hire a data scientist who comes and asks: “Where is the data?”
Gathering the data is hard because you need to track the entire value chain. Even with smart tools like Mixpanel, you will struggle to see the entire journey. We have some of the best in the world right now in Zilch focusing on tracking and storing data in a usable way.
2. Connect the Data
How do you store the data in a warehouse? How do you effectively manage a data lake? We have some amazing data engineers and scientists working on this every day.
3. Use the Data
Once you have the data to interpret it, build it into the culture by asking: “What does the data say?” Be very careful because the data cause is not always visible.
Businesses know everything about you but they don’t use these insights. So you end up going through broken customer journeys where you need to re-identify yourself. As much as you need to follow the right data guidelines, you need to integrate the data first.
4. Creating the growth team of the future
We have a Growth team sitting between product and marketing (acquisition, discovery, trust) looking at what is converting, and what is not. The team contains analysis and a combination of marketing and product management.
The growth team helps us get new customers, retain the current ones and provide them with something to encourage them to come back again.
We set Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) every quarter to increase conversion from X to Y. The growth team has to come up with ideas and figure out how to do that.
We do a lot of user testing where customers can test new features. We watch them using new features and listen when they talk to us through their experiences. As a result, we have a product roadmap defined largely by customer requests.
Maintaining a Strong Company Culture
Maintaining company culture as we grow is difficult but still the most important thing. We have an in-house recruitment team that helps a lot.
I meet and onboard every new star (employee) within the company to help people learn the culture. We do fireside chats every two weeks where people grab a drink or snack and talk about problems they’ve solved and how they overcame it. That is how we try to grow the culture.
My father gave me the best piece of advice: “No one is special, people are just people. Doesn’t matter how important they are, you can be any one of them, if you put in the time or energy. Once you’ve done it, you realise that it wasn’t that hard. I always tell that to the new starters.”
- If you have a great team and phenomenal company culture, you can build amazing things.
- To build digital-first solutions, gather the data to track the entire value chain, connect it with the relevant experts, and use all the customer insights at your disposal.
- The later you begin the business, the more tech you have at your fingertips. Being late can be an advantage.
Who is Philip Belamant?
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