Kathryn Loewen sees her company, Control, as the Hootsuite for payments. It’s entirely fitting, then, that Hootsuite-founder Ryan Holmes is an investor and advisor. Control provides a web and mobile dashboard to let online businesses keep track of and manage customer payments. Control hopes to integrate multiple payment providers so any business can use its services.
Based in Vancouver, Control recently raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Here’s why Loewen thinks Control can be as successful as Hootsuite.
PROFITguide: What does Control do?
Kathryn Loewen: We’re a management platform for the payments industry. We work with different payment companies, such as Stripe, and basically provide a platform to help anybody who runs an online business to manage or control their payments better. Much like Hootsuite helps marketing managers keep on top of a bunch of different social feeds, we help a business accepting payments through different providers to manage them all through one consolidated platform.
What does your dashboard actually tell your customers?
A lot of our customers own software-as-a-service companies, so they’re fairly nomadic. They’re visiting customers, going to conferences and things like that, so those people love being able to get a rollup of some of their key stats from our mobile app. They like to see their daily sales, approved transactions versus declined transactions—the key metrics that matter. They also get sound-based alerts based on the type of transaction. Our customers love that. They get a “ka-ching” sound through their mobile app every time they get a sale. It’s actually one of our most popular features. They can take action, too. If they’re away from a computer but they’ve got an irate customer that wants a refund, they can do that on-the-fly. On the web side, you can drill down into customer behaviour and history a lot more.
What prompted you to start Control?
A few things. I’ve worked in the payments industry for 15 years. I’d had my eye on Stripe for a number of years, and what was exciting was they were the first payments company to open up their APIs. So they provided the fodder for dozens of different businesses. That was one of the tipping points. Also, at the time I was working at SAP in enterprise sales. We had done a lot of R&D around optimizing mobile from a consumer perspective, and what was interesting was our business customers were asking for our business products and applications in a native mobile format. And now there’s a huge shift over to building mobile apps for the business sector.
Are other payment companies opening their APIs?
For sure. That’s the premise for our whole business. Our real value is in being platform agnostic. That depends on other payment platforms opening up their APIs, but Stripe has set the pace and others are following suit. PayPal is working with us and really excited about our product. They’re working on open in up their API, and that’s our next integration target. It just provides more value to their own customers. They’re giving their customers access to tools without have to pay a cent on development.
What’s to stop a company like Stripe from developing analytics like this on their own?
Absolutely nothing. On the one hand, their whole success is based on supporting the developer community, but there is nothing to stop them from building analytics and intelligence. They may do so, but they sure as heck aren’t going to integrate PayPal and other companies, too. So that’s our defensive position.
What do you think of Loewen’s plans for Control? Share your (constructive) thoughts and feedback in the comments below.
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