People of Blenheim Chalcot: Myles Stephenson
For Myles Stephenson - CEO of Modulr this is the second business he is building under the Blenheim Chalcot umbrella . After his first payments venture CorporatePay was successfully built and sold, Myles came back with another idea to disrupt the payments industry. Modulr has just celebrated its first anniversary and is set for significant growth in 2017. We have asked Myles to share his unique story of building another venture with Blenheim Chalcot.
Coming to BC and building CorporatePay
My first experience of Blenheim Chalcot was whilst working for Retail Decisions (ReD), a payments and fraud prevention provider. I worked closely with NetDecisions, an early BC business, to support the payment requirements for one of their travel industry projects. My interest in the growing portfolio of business was piqued, but little did I know that several years later we’d be building a business together.
My career has taken me from working for one of the UK’s largest companies to a start-up. My graduate training and early career with Marks & Spencer provided a strong grounding in business as well as my first exposure to payment systems including what they’re missing. Helping to build Retail Decisions (ReD) through product development, strategic partnerships and acquisition projects provided a solid understanding of the payments industry as well as new trends which were emerging globally. Based on this experience I developed the idea for a corporate payment solutions venture, CorporatePay. A business plan quickly turned into an offer from Charles and Manoj, the founding partners, to develop the idea under the Blenheim Chalcot umbrella. The journey lasted from 2008 to 2012, when we sold the business to WEX Inc., a NYSE listed specialist corporate payments firm. The CorporatePay leadership team integrated the business into WEX, launched their broader product portfolio locally and expanded it into the European market.
Second time with BC to build Modulr
Four years later and the team has come full circle with another business plan backed by Blenheim Chalcot. This time the company is Modulr offering an API driven business-to-business payments platform enabling businesses to automate getting paid and making payments. The team’s first hand frustrations of not being able to access the payment services we required when building CorporatePay was the start of the idea for Modulr. Opening bank accounts was a significant challenge and technology access to automate processes simply wasn’t available.
Unlike the traditional providers of business payments such as conventional banks Modulr focuses solely on the payments and solely on businesses. Consequently, we are able to create tools giving businesses better access to payment services, enabling companies to sign up for payment accounts easily, quickly and integrating it all through technology. Modulr is being built sector by sector using the technology platform to solve sector specific problems.
BC’s ‘Unfair Advantage’
The Modulr team are strong believers in the venture building approach developed by BC. There’s no question that businesses benefit from being part of BC – returning for the second time hopefully provides proof.
Why wouldn’t an experienced start-up team go it alone for their second venture? The experience brings a clear recognition that building a start-up is hard work and the chance of success can be low considering the majority of start-ups never make it beyond their first year. Accessing the scale provided by BC including the services, capabilities, experiences and network significantly increase the chance of success – something demonstrated by the number of successful businesses which have emerged from BC.
Building a start-up can be a lonely task. The portfolio of businesses across BC provides a fantastic peer group of CEO’s all facing similar challenges to share knowledge and experiences.
One piece of advice
For an entrepreneur going alone, it may seem attractive to retain full control of a new venture. It’s lonely, hard and high risk. Venture building with BC provides an alternative and more enjoyable option with a much higher probability of success.
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