Suneera Madhani & Sal Rehmetullah

Orlando, Florida


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Suneera Madhani and Sal Rehmetullah, sibling co-founders of Fattmerchant, which was recently named one of GrowFL's Companies To Watch for 2016, came to entrepreneurship via very different paths. "We grew up in a very entrepreneurial family," Madhani said. "I never wanted to be an entrepreneur like our father because I saw the struggles involved and the stresses of bringing work home with you. But Sal, my brother, always wanted to be an entrepreneur and launched his own restaurant franchise concept at the age of 19."

Now, brother and sister have teamed up to take on the payment processing sector. Fattmerchant's business model has saved Central Florida small and medium sized businesses more than $2 million in 2015 alone and an average of 40% on their payment processing fees by implementing a subscription based model instead of a variable percent of transaction model as is traditional in the sector.

"I worked in the industry for eight years," said Madhani. "I saw the lack of transparency and I took this idea for subscription based, direct cost processing to my bosses, but they said no. They did not want to lower their margins. So I quit and decided to either launch Fattmerchant or find another industry to work in." Luckily for small businesses, she did launch Fattmerchant with her brother, who moved back to Orlando from San Francisco and his own startup job there.

"Payment processing has always been a necessary evil and not much fun at all," Rehmetullah said. "We are trying to turn that on its head utilizing social media and other measures. For example, we don't have an automated 1-800 number. Our clients can call us and actually speak to someone live."

Rehmetullah's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs centers on discipline. "It's about being disciplined with your money, and your time," he said. "You have to set deadlines against goals because you're so excited about changing something that often you are not disciplined enough to execute around it."

Madhani values market validation. "There are lots of great ideas," she said. "but you need to gather quick market validation because it is better to fail fast than lose all your resources chasing an idea. Too many companies are focused on building a product rather than selling and validating. One of my favorite quotes is 'There's no such thing as a billion dollar idea, just a billion dollar execution.'"


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