Spending most of his career in the business to business payment automation space, now referred to as FinTech, Neal Anderson had found his niche, but one thing was still missing – owning the business.
While working at his previous company, Anderson received an unexpected call from an old friend who had started up Procheck Plus, a competitive business of his own, back in the mid-90’s.
“He calls me up, and he’s a real spiritual guy, and I can hear him banging on his desk saying ‘Neal, I’ve been praying, I’ve been praying and praying, and your name is the only name that keeps coming to mind.’ I said ‘Mark, what are you talking about?’ and he says, ‘I want you to buy my company.’”
Mark wouldn’t take no for an answer and Anderson wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass.
“One of my life goals was to own my own company, run my own company and grow my company. So, when I had the chance, it was like a door opening for me and it was an easy decision,” he said. “I was too entrepreneurial for the company I was working at, so I started to talk to Mark about acquiring his company. But interestingly enough, and an interesting part of our story, is that our founder is actually my wife, Julie.”
Anderson’s wife, Juliet Negrete-Anderson, stepped in to acquire the assets of Procheck Plus in late 2009 and ran and launched OnPay Solutions until his non-compete ended and he was able to join the team in 2011.
Now, OnPay Solutions is a leading FinTech payment technology company with a mission to help customers make a digital transformation away from paper-based accounting practices to more electronic -based solutions. Their primary focus is on accounts payable and accounts receivable with clients such as Trader Joe’s, AIG Canada, Sedano’s Grocery and Hagerty Auto Insurance.
“Our solution starts with the automation of an invoice. So many inbound invoices still come in the USPS, or a company thinks they’re billing electronically when they send you an email with a PDF image attached to it, and that’s certainly not an electronic invoice,” Anderson said. “That PDF still requires a great deal of manual effort, so we’ve got solutions to digitize that invoice, put that through a comprehensive workflow and approval process based off of a client’s needs then feed that invoice into their accounting system or directly to our payment platform.”
As for working side by side with his wife?
“A lot of people ask, ‘how in the world can you do that?’ But I think she’s got much more of a challenge working with me than I do working with her,” he laughed.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole career. Julie on the other hand, I call her our “reluctant entrepreneur” but she got comfortable with the risk and jumped in as well. I could not of hired a person to do the job better than she does.”
Overcoming Challenges and Looking Toward the Future
Like any other entrepreneur, Anderson has faced his share of challenges when growing his company like hiring the right employees and access to capital.
“Finding the right team is so critical, finding people that can buy into your vision, trust your vision and can work hard to execute the plan is not easy to find,” he said. “Finding the right people is really critical to the program.”
“Of course, access to capital is really important, too. We’ve mostly been a boot-strapped company, meaning we haven’t gone out and raised private equity or venture capital dollars, and there’s reasons for that. But having that capital to be able to put to work, especially in sales and marketing is really critical.”
These challenges, however, haven’t slowed down the momentum of OnPay Solutions.
“We have very aggressive growth goals, from a revenue standpoint and our primary focus these days is really building out our direct sales engine. While in the past, we’ve been successful through our channel partner revenue model where others have white-labeled our solution and go to market with it then rely on us to service their clients,” he said.
“One of the things that we think is really key to our growth is that we have our own sales team and marketing engine as well. A big part of our goal is to prove that model, prove it’s successful and grow that organization, which all dovetails into top line revenue growth. We want to continue to be a leader in this FinTech space and want our customers to enjoy a solution that is not only useful, but they’re really happy to utilize.”
Keeping a Competitive Edge
OnPay Solution’s competitive edge lies in being one of the only companies that leverages Invoice processing, Accounts Payable ePayments disbursements and Supplier Remittance processing all in a single cloud-based ecosystem.
“We understand the cycle that occurs between buyers and suppliers,” Anderson said. “There’s inbound invoices, payments being made and money is being received and, in our mind, our big advantage is that we can address that full cycle. As you look at our product road map, it is full of various ideas of what is occurring in this ecosystem between a buyer and supplier and what we can facilitate onto our platform that will make that relationship stronger, better and more efficient.”
Unlike what you might find at other technology companies, OnPay Solutions is hiring differently. They’re passionate about hiring women and increasing diversity, which makes up 55% of their workforce, along with employees above the age of 40. Nicknamed the “Fairy Job Mother,” Juliet along with Neal is committed to fostering an environment where individuals are empowered to make decisions, contribute to the product road map and lead innovation. All of which are accomplished with everyone being driven by three simple, yet important, principals.
“First, do the very best you can, and if you’re doing your best, then that’s all anyone can ask of you,” Anderson said. “We’re going to ask you to do what’s right. Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong, so do what is right. And the third is treat others the way you want to be treated. If we’re doing all three of those were going to have a great place to work and were going to achieve a lot of great things.”
OnPay Solutions also uses both DISC Assessments and TTI – Trimetrix Coaching Reports to understand their employees’ behaviors, allowing them to work better together and optimize communication and team success.
What it Means to be an Honoree
“When I first got exposed to GrowFL, maybe 8 or 9 years ago, and they had their first one or two honoree classes, I just would think to myself how great it would be to be on that list,” Anderson said.
“At the time we were just a tadpole company, just looking at them and thinking about how you had to be over a million dollars in revenue and then thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, if we ever get to this.’ We’ve made it to the list of ‘nominees’ for several years so to now have the honor of making it is huge, and to be the only company here from Duval County and Jacksonville is really special as well.”
OnPay Solutions has been involved with GrowFL’s since participating in their strategic research program a few years ago. “We went through the program four years ago and the consultants provided us with some great market intelligence,” he said. “We’re still leveraging and utilizing that information today.”
Advice for Entrepreneurs
When asked his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, a few things came to Anderson’s mind.
“It takes perseverance and a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude and you can’t quit,” he said. “I think a lot of times when someone reads the business media, it appears as if companies have amazing overnight success. And some do. But in the “real world,” growing a business is hard, it takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, so you definitely have to have perseverance. You’re most likely not going to have some sort of overnight success and that’s okay. If you keep stacking up month after month and year after year of growth, it really compounds itself.”
“The other thing is, start early because it does take time. So, the earlier you can get started on your dream, go to it.”
Throughout the years, OnPay Solutions has been directly involved with their community in a multitude of ways. From being a supporter of the I-Tech Program out of Florida State College at Jacksonville to a supporter of the University of Florida’s “Beyond 120 Program,” their dedication to giving back is apparent.
They also created their #OnPaySolutionsCares program which has supported various causes like supported hurricane relief efforts, back-to-school programs and beach clean-ups, to name a few.