Xplor’s Strategic Approach: Embedding Finance and Payroll for Seamless User Experiences

Embedded Partners

For a company to have continued success, it needs to be extremely focused on its industries and know its customers well.

On the flip side, there are lessons that can be learned from verticals that are close by. You might be missing out if you don’t poke around and explore those other solutions.

 Andy Swansburg, Chief Product Officer, Fitness and Well-Being Vertical at Xplor, discusses the challenges and advantages of taking on multiple verticals and why SMB marketing is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity.


Highlights include:

  • Andy’s atypical journey that led to becoming the CPO for Xplor.
  • The idea behind commerce-accelerating technologies, with some examples.
  • How to think about organizing product teams and infrastructure in a company with multiple verticals.
  • How big is the demand for embedded finance?
  • How does operating internationally change the complexity of business?
  • Advice on integrating acquisitions for other CPOs and lessons learned.

Listen to the podcast or read the episode highlights below.

In a recent SMB Tech Innovators podcast episode powered by Gusto, we talked with Andy Swansburg, Chief Product Officer for the Fitness and Well-Being Vertical at Xplor. Andy started his journey with a background in graphic design. While pursuing an art major in college, his knack for website design and an innate understanding of user experience led him into the world of product design. Despite limited tech knowledge, his passion for problem-solving drove his career in product management and strategy.

Andy entered a pitch competition during college and embarked on a mission to create innovative solutions. A conversation with his mother, a yoga studio owner, revealed fitness businesses’ challenges, inspiring him to develop marketing automation solutions. This journey ultimately led to the founding of BrandBot in 2018. BrandBot’s success attracted Advent International’s attention, resulting in its acquisition in 2020. Andy subsequently joined Xplor, an Advent portfolio company, as CPO for core services.

Understanding Xplor’s Vision

Xplor is an innovative company that recognizes the importance of seamless customer experiences. Andy Swansburg aptly uses an hourglass metaphor to illustrate Xplor’s approach. They aim to provide a broad payment infrastructure supporting recurring payments for various SaaS products. Simultaneously, Xplor offers tailored everyday software for specific verticals. Xplor excels by offering integrations with payroll systems and marketing automation tools, balancing broad functionality with industry-specific solutions.

“We know we need to scale our product, but as we scale it, we can’t walk away from delivering the value we’ve been delivering.”

Commerce Accelerating Technologies for Verticals

Xplor’s philosophy includes “commerce accelerating technologies” designed to help customers grow their businesses. These encompass marketing automation, embedded payroll systems, loyalty and referral programs, email messaging automation, and more. The goal is to deliver tangible ROI for SMBs, boosting revenue and streamlining operations.

To effectively serve multiple verticals, Xplor emphasizes the importance of deeply understanding each vertical’s unique needs. By grasping customers’ context and workflow, Xplor tailors offerings to meet the specific requirements of each vertical.

“So it’s a broad bucket for us, but we’re very focused on growth functionality right now.”

Andy Swansburg, Chief Product Officer, Fitness and Well-Being Vertical at Xplor

Seamless Integration Strategies: Native vs. Embedded Solutions

Xplor adopts a modular approach to product development, prioritizing APIs and business logic. Collaborating closely with sister vertical SaaS companies, they create generalized versions of features like referrals. This approach fosters seamless integration and a consistent login experience through single sign-on (SSO). Separate applications are built to cater to the specific needs of each vertical while ensuring a seamless user experience.

Navigating International Markets: Localization and Competitive Insights

Xplor treats international expansion as integral to its product-market fit strategy. The company adapts offerings to meet diverse market needs, adding localization for each country. For instance, invoicing processes are adjusted to comply with specific tax regulations. Deep market research helps Xplor understand local competition and value propositions, ensuring effective competition and local market adaptation.

Going Slow to Go Fast

International expansion requires a measured approach. Xplor prioritizes agility to swiftly add new countries while maintaining efficiency. Localization plays a pivotal role in tailoring offerings to meet specific market needs, thus ensuring a seamless experience.

“International expansion requires a measured approach. Xplor prioritizes agility to swiftly add new countries while maintaining efficiency. Localization plays a pivotal role in tailoring offerings to meet specific market needs, thus ensuring a seamless experience.”

Andy Swansburg, Chief Product Officer, Fitness and Well-Being Vertical at Xplor

3 Key Considerations During Acquisition and Integration

  1. Flexibility in Tactical Plans: Adaptability during integration is vital, as unforeseen circumstances can arise. Embracing agility helps smoothen the process.
  2. Preserving Value Drivers: Acquiring companies should identify and retain the unique value the acquired company brings, ensuring the continued delivery of core value.
  3. Alignment of Philosophy and Culture: Aligning customer and employee values is crucial during integration. This alignment facilitates a smoother and more successful transition.

Andy Swansburg and Xplor exemplify a strategic approach to embedding finance and payroll solutions within various verticals, delivering seamless experiences to customers worldwide.

Listen to Managing multiple vertical SaaS solutions to create seamless customer experiences with Andy Swansburg.

Learn more about Xplor and connect with Andy on LinkedIn.

Updated: November 3, 2023

Brian Busch Brian is currently Head of Marketing at Gusto Embedded; the only payroll API with 10 years of experience and actionable data behind it. Before joining Gusto, Brian held leadership positions at Cloud Elements, Kapost, and Captricity. He holds a BS in finance and a BA in philosophy from Boston College and an MBA from the Cal Berkeley Haas School of Business.
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