Welcome to the SMB Tech Innovators podcast, powered by Gusto, where we explore the intersection of financial services and vertical SaaS strategy and discuss how software combats the rising complexity of running a business. We aim to share stories, advice, and best practices from the leaders and investors behind today’s cutting-edge platforms. In this episode, Eytan Bensoussan, the CEO of NorthOne, explores solutions for the challenges in small businesses banking and sheds light on innovative strategies to streamline banking processes for small businesses.
- The trend of connecting back-office processes in mid-market companies.
- Disconnected systems in small businesses and the concept behind NorthOne.
- NorthOne’s market differentiation as a connected bank account for small businesses.
- Streamlining banking processes for business owners.
- Challenges and strategies in launching NorthOne.
- Changes in the fintech macro environment, including venture capital.
- Using customer data to focus on profitable and engaged segments.
- Evolving competition in banking and digital offerings by traditional banks.
- Core technology trends impacting banking today.
Streamlining small business banking processes through new technology.
The SMB Tech Innovators Podcast recently featured Eytan Bensoussan, CEO and co-founder of NorthOne, an online business banking account aimed at connecting the financial back-office of small businesses across America. In this podcast, we discuss the key insights shared by Eytan, focusing on NorthOne’s mission to revolutionize banking processes for small businesses.
Eytan’s journey to founding NorthOne started with his extensive experience at McKinsey, where he consistently worked on projects to reduce the operational costs of finance departments in large corporations. He identified a common challenge – the disconnect between various components in the finance ecosystem, leading to inefficiencies and high costs. This observation inspired him to bring a similar solution to small businesses, drawing from his experience growing up in a family of small business owners.
NorthOne’s Unique Positioning
NorthOne positions itself as a connected bank account, offering a productized experience for small businesses. Unlike traditional banks with fragmented services and disconnected information, NorthOne is a hub for the connected financial back office. Eytan emphasizes the importance of understanding the pivotal moments for small business owners and ensuring NorthOne delivers on these moments to build trust and efficiency.
Differentiation and Focus on the Customer
The target audience for NorthOne is businesses ranging from full-time self-employed individuals to those with up to 20 employees. The focus is on the growth stage, where the pain is felt by the owner, who often makes decisions and manages the financial resources. Unlike traditional banking solutions, NorthOne integrates seamlessly with various financial tools, streamlining processes from invoice receipt to payment. NorthOne aims to differentiate itself by providing a connected banking experience, removing the cost and complexity associated with disjointed financial tools.
The Role of Technology in NorthOne’s Approach
Eytan highlights NorthOne’s bill payment hub as an example of how technology facilitates a streamlined process for users. The NorthOne bill payment hub is an example of this, simplifying tasks that traditionally required numerous steps into a few clicks. The goal is to reduce the steps involved in tasks like invoice payment and offer a connected banking environment that addresses the broader needs of small businesses.
Customer Acquisition and the Waitlist Strategy
NorthOne implemented a unique strategy to build awareness before launch by creating free business tools and products. Examples include Business Loan Sherpa, invoicing tools, and an incorporation service. This approach allowed NorthOne to socialize with potential customers, create anticipation, and build a significant waitlist of over 100,000 customers before the official launch.
Adapting to the Macro Environment
Eytan acknowledges the shifts in the macroeconomic and venture capital landscapes, emphasizing the need for startups to adapt. The changing cost of capital has led NorthOne to focus on specific customer segments that offer a balance of engagement and profitability. Leveraging data and longitudinal insights, NorthOne refines its go-to-market strategy to maximize every customer interaction.
Competing with Traditional Banks and the Branchless Approach
NorthOne competes with traditional banks by highlighting its digital-first approach and the unique functionalities offered. While some banks have shifted towards digital offerings, Eytan notes that NorthOne focuses on businesses that don’t necessarily rely on branches and have specific needs addressed by its connected banking platform. By leveraging technology to provide functionalities beyond basic banking, NorthOne disrupts the notion of a bank account as a mere commodity.
Advice for Building Technology for SMBs
Eytan stresses the importance of talking to customers as a fundamental principle. Regardless of the technology or tools used, understanding the audience is crucial for building a product that resonates with their needs. He encourages a customer-centric approach, viewing businesses as anthropologists studying their customers to create products tailored to their requirements.
NorthOne’s journey, insights, and unique approach to small business banking processes underscore the significance of understanding the customer’s perspective and leveraging technology to create a connected, seamless experience. As the landscape evolves, NorthOne remains committed to providing value, building trust, and addressing the critical moments that matter most to small business owners in their financial journey.
Listen to Unveiling a new era in business banking with Eytan Bensoussan. Learn more about NorthOne and connect with Eytan on LinkedIn.