New startup Control provides businesses that accept online payments with real-time revenue reporting and the ability to respond to time sensitive transaction events from mobile devices and the desktop. Recent Interview below is with Kathryn Loewen, Co-Founder and CEO of Control:
Q: Tell us your story and something more about Control?
A: I have been working in the transactional software space for over 10 years. I started out working on one of the early online banking systems, Citidrect, when I was with Citigroup Europe. Later I went to work developing software solutions for the online gaming industry, where we were processing over $2Million per day , implemented various international payment methods tailored to local customers , and experienced every fraud scenario possible. This was an excellent opportunity to learn about the global perspective of eCommerce as well as the types of defenses an online merchant requires to mitigate their exposure to losses due to fraud, such as chargebacks. Later in my career I was working in enterprise software sales for an SAP company, hybris.com. One of the key trends I observed was the significant emphasis was placed on developing mobilized optimized experiences on the consumer side, such as responsive checkouts, yet all of our business facing back-end were only accessible from a desktop browser. Industry trends suggest that business users demand mobility as much as consumers do. I recognized an opportunity to develop B2B oriented mobile apps. I knew early on I wanted my company to focus specifically on the payments industry, as this is where device agnostic access, real time information, and the ability to act on transactions is so crucial.
Early in 2014, I had the opportunity to purchase the IP and source code for an Android app integrated to the Stripe.com platform, along with 1500 existing customers. Since that acquisition, we expanded our team and a developed an iOs app integrated into Paymill.com for the European market.
We have over 100 Beta customers, and launching live next week. Our goal is to offer Stripe & Paymill support on both iOS and Android, and then start integrating more payment methods such as PayPal and Dwolla. One thing we have observed from our Beta users is that many use Stripe AND PayPal, so we Control will be the ultimate solution for these merchants to aggregate data from both sources and have the power to manage all their payments, from their mobile device.
Q: Where are you based and how big your team is? Tell us something more about Control team?
A: Control is a company-in-residence at Invoke Labs in Vancouver BC, whose notable alumni include Hootsuite, BrightKit, Foodee, and Rosterbot. We have 4 team members within Invoke Labs that assist us with our marketing and community management. Rounding out the team is 3 engineers, 1 UI/UX expert, as well as our CTO, Charles Phillips. Charles is a full stack engineer an expert in iOs and Android apps, and inventor of the FOSS TigerJS framework for app development.
Q: What is your experience with Invoke Labs?
A: Invoke Labs is an incredibly resource for us, particularly at this early stage. When I started working with Invoke Labs, I already had both an iOs and Android MVP built. I required assistance in ramping up user acquisition and managing the Beta recruitment process. I started recognizing value in a very rapid timeframe, and the Invoke Labs extension to the Control team is highly engaged and passionate about our business model. One of my biggest challenges was understanding the modern landscape of social media i.e. the correct channels and etiquette for engaging users. As the Hootsuite philosophies are highly woven into the Invoke Labs DNA (the original founders of Invoke Media went on to found Hootsuite), therefore social marketing is one of their core strengths. The team actively coaches me on how to use social most effectively, and the traction has been remarkable. We are getting a significant amount of Beta users signing up every day, acquired organically, via social channels.
Q: Could you tell us something more about your business model?
We will be offering the iOs and Android apps free of charge via the Apple App and Google Play marketplaces. Inherent to our model is the app’s ability to intercept webhooks from any payment platform, display key metrics within the app dashboard, receive push notifications via our back-end service (we developed in-house), as well as allow the merchant to act on transactions eg. retry, refund, or create charges. Transaction usage is free to use up to a certain monthly threshold, customers can then upgrade to our premium business package. We are also working with payment platforms directly on enterprise deals, where we will be build custom iOS and Android apps specific to their customers’ needs.
Q: How are you funded?
A: Completely bootstrapped and self – financed. My ambition is to acquire a critical mass of users and reach an inflection point where profitability potential is validated. Once that is achieved, I will have a compelling proposition to potential investors when I start leading our financing drive.
Q: What are your plans for the next 12 months?
A: Our first and foremost planning objective is to listen intently to our customer feedback and fine tune the iOs and Android apps so they become the ultimate business tools for our customers to manage their payments. We will also use our customer feedback to determine the priority of future payment platform integrations. Our next milestone will be PayPal support, which is a direct result of input from our customers who advised us this is important. Our other ambition is to build a complimentary desktop web app. We believe real time and actionable data must be available to the mobile business user. We also want to provide our customers the ability to view all their aggregate data and run more in depth reports from a desktop format, which is a more appropriate form factor for visualization of historical and projected metrics. We also plan to expand our team in Vancouver BC, one of the most exciting startup communities to be participating in right now.Activate Social Media: