Payflow’s mission is simple yet meaningful: to improve financial well-being for all workers. Born right here in Barcelona, this fast-growing fintech startup is now the leading Pay-on-Demand and Flexible Compensation company in the EU and Latam and the most complete financial wellness platform on the market.
Through its intuitive app, Payflow offers a suite of products and services that are transforming the way people manage their finances, including instant salary access, financial education, and savings tools.
So it’s no surprise that Payflow was crowned the winner of last year’s coveted 4YFN Awards.
Ahead of #4YFN24’s upcoming 10th-anniversary edition, we chatted with founders Avinash Sukhwani and Benoit Menardo to delve into their journey, from their time in Y Combinator to the impact of winning the award, their advice for other entrepreneurs, and more.
Tell us about the beginnings of the company: what inspired you to launch a startup focusing on employees’ financial well-being? Has the initial vision changed since then?
We came up with the idea to create Payflow in 2020 based on our shared experience while studying at MIT. We were roommates, and through a pizza delivery person, we learned about the On-Demand Pay model that was gaining momentum in the United States.
A couple of years later, after working at two of the world’s largest consulting firms and starting our own businesses, we decided it was time to establish Payflow in Spain. We found a strong Market-Solution fit for launching the company in the country.
We were driven by a mission: to improve the way all workers get paid. Firm believers in the power of empowerment and financial well-being, Payflow became an innovative and highly sought-after benefit for HR teams. It aimed to foster talent retention, reduce turnover, boost productivity, and above all, enhance the overall employee experience.
Payflow started as a provider of On-Demand Pay and in less than three years, it added four more products to its platform, becoming the most comprehensive Financial Wellness platform in the market:
- Payflow: On-Demand Pay
- Flexflow: Flexible Compensation
- Saveflow: Automated virtual piggy bank
- Learnflow: Financial education platform
Our goal remains the same: becoming the best financial platform for workers in the EU and Latam.
What was the most unexpected challenge you encountered at Payflow and how did you overcome it?
The most surprising challenge we faced at Payflow was adapting our product to meet the unique regulations and requirements of Colombia, Portugal, and Peru during our expansion. While our product fit well in these countries, dealing with their specific rules was a bit challenging at first.
Luckily, we had a fantastic team of engineers who really stepped up and nailed it. Their expertise and hard work were key in getting our product in line with each country’s legal framework.
We have a habit of trying out new things in our home market of Spain before taking them global. This approach has worked out in areas like talent, marketing, and operations. But we’ve also learned that each country has its own quirks and needs, and we must adjust our approach accordingly.
As we’ve grown, we’ve seen how crucial company culture is to our success. We’ve made it a point to foster a culture of creativity, constant learning, grit, and positivity in all our teams, no matter where they are. This shared spirit keeps us on track and motivated to reach our goals, even when we’re faced with unexpected challenges.
Tell us about your experience in Y Combinator. Any advice for startups considering an accelerator or similar program?
Our experience at Y Combinator was truly a dream come true. Being a part of this accelerator program was a monumental milestone for our startup. The entire process, from the application to the program itself, was incredibly intense but immensely rewarding.
Y Combinator provided us with unparalleled access to resources, mentorship, and a network of fellow entrepreneurs. The guidance and support we received were instrumental in shaping our growth trajectory. The program pushed us to think bigger, move faster, and refine our product in ways we hadn’t even considered before.
For startups considering an accelerator or a similar program, we cannot emphasize enough how valuable this experience can be. It’s not just about the funding, although that’s important. It’s about the expertise, the connections, and the rigorous, accelerated learning curve.
Our advice would be to thoroughly research and understand the specific focus and offerings of the accelerator program you’re interested in. Make sure it aligns with your startup’s goals and values. Additionally, be prepared to fully commit and immerse yourself in the program. Embrace feedback, pivot when necessary, and take full advantage of the resources and mentorship available.
Ultimately, the experience at Y Combinator has been a game-changer for us, and we wholeheartedly recommend it to any startup looking to take their venture to the next level. It’s an opportunity that can truly propel your business forward.
The concept of instant salary access is intriguing. Why is this so important in 2023 and do you think it will become commonplace?
The concept of instant salary access, as exemplified by Payflow, holds immense significance in 2023 due to the evolving dynamics of work and financial needs. In today’s fast-paced world, individuals often face unexpected expenses or situations that require immediate access to their earnings. Traditional pay cycles, which typically occur bi-weekly or monthly, may not align with these real-time financial demands.
Instant salary access offers a vital financial lifeline, allowing them to cover urgent expenses, smooth out income fluctuations, and ultimately gain greater control over their financial well-being.
As for its future prevalence, it’s highly likely that instant salary access will become commonplace. The trend towards more flexible, on-demand payment options is gaining traction, driven by both employee demand and innovative fintech solutions like Payflow. As more companies recognize the benefits of providing this service to their workforce, we can expect to see it integrated into standard compensation practices across various industries.
In summary, in the dynamic landscape of work and finance in 2023, instant salary access addresses a crucial need. Its convenience and ability to enhance financial security make it a trend that is poised to become a standard offering in the modern workplace. Payflow, with its innovative approach, is at the forefront of this movement.
Fintech is a fast-developing field. How does Payflow stay ahead of the curve?
Payflow keeps up with the fast-paced fintech world by being a tech-savvy pioneer. We’re not afraid to push boundaries and adopt the latest tech trends to improve our products.
Our awesome team of engineers, product specialists, UX designers, strategists, and operations experts are always on the lookout for new tools and ways to fine-tune what we offer.
What really makes us stand out is how we effortlessly sync up with any Payroll or HR software a company uses. This automation not only makes things smoother but also takes some weight off HR teams’ shoulders. We’ve got integrations for over 50 different software solutions across the four countries we operate in. So, no matter what software you’re using, chances are we’ve got it covered.
In a nutshell, our go-getter attitude towards tech, combined with awesome partnerships and a passionate team, ensures that Payflow leads the charge in the fintech world. We’re not just keeping up; we’re driving the change.
Congratulations on winning last year’s 4YFN Awards! What opportunities or collaborations did this open up?
Thank you, we greatly appreciate it!
Our involvement in 4YFN has proven to be extremely advantageous for us, especially in terms of boosting our marketing and sales efforts. The exposure and reputation garnered from the event have significantly bolstered our growth in these areas and are poised to be a pivotal factor in our upcoming investment round. For a startup like us, such recognitions hold immense value as they elevate our brand and product to the forefront of people’s minds, substantially expanding our reach.
The positive effects are still evident today, and we remain deeply thankful for the chance to have taken part in 4YFN and the subsequent advantages it has bestowed upon Payflow post-win.
With 4YFN celebrating its 10th edition, what impact does Payflow hope to make in the next 5–10 years?
In the next 5-10 years, Payflow aims to have a significant impact on the world of finance. With the 10th edition of 4YFN as a milestone, our vision is to foster greater financial inclusion globally, ensuring that every worker can receive their earnings promptly. We are committed to expanding our reach across Europe and Latin America, striving to enrich the lives of millions through our innovative financial wellness platform.
As our operations grow, we’re continuously innovating, introducing new products and features to enhance our super app and offer even greater value to our users. However, our ambition extends beyond our own success. We aspire to catalyze a broader shift towards prioritizing employee well-being in all companies. We firmly believe that content, fulfilled employees lead to thriving organizations, ultimately resulting in a more productive and engaged workforce. Through our advocacy for financial wellness and flexible compensation, we aim to contribute to a more positive and equitable future for workers on a global scale.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting a fintech company?
One of the most pivotal lessons we’ve gleaned at Payflow, particularly from our time at Y Combinator, is the mantra “make something people want.” While building a successful business is undeniably crucial, it’s equally imperative to develop a product that holds the potential to profoundly improve lives.
In our case, we’ve gone a step further by offering our product entirely free of charge to employees, setting us apart from competitors. This stems from our unwavering commitment to social benefit and our mission to enhance the financial wellness of blue-collar workers. This singular focus has not only driven our vision but has also shaped our company’s identity.
Furthermore, the team you surround yourself with is of huge importance. The culture within your company is the bedrock upon which everything else is built. In the early stages of a startup, hard work is a given, so it’s imperative to carefully select team members who not only possess the necessary skills and talents but also resonate deeply with your vision. When everyone believes in the mission as fervently as you do, the potential for transformative impact is immense.
Remember, the journey of a fintech entrepreneur is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay dedicated, remain adaptable, and be willing to learn and evolve along the way. Building something truly impactful in the fintech space requires not only ingenuity and diligence but also a profound commitment to the betterment of lives through innovative financial solutions.
Don’t miss this year’s competition at 4YFN, taking place at MWC24 from February 26–29, 2024. And stay tuned for our upcoming interview with the future winner of the #4YFN24 Awards—it could very well be the next trailblazing Barcelona startup like Payflow.