KY FOUNDER SPOTLIGHT: Raffi Kayat
Raffi Kayat is the co-founder and CEO of Louisville-based borderless.
What does borderless do?
borderless is a global payments company focusing on making bank payments accessible, affordable and transparent. Making payments with borderless is always free, and we offer users low, affordable, and transparent rates that allow users to save up to 90 percent compared to traditional payment methods, PayPal and credit cards.
borderless is simple and intuitive. Once you connect your bank account, our 3-step payment process allows users to make payments in seconds to over 60 countries. We provide unique @handles to each user and enable businesses to generate custom payment links that they can email to their clients.
- borderless is private. Users are never required to share their sensitive banking information when making or requesting payments.
- borderless is secure. We use bank-grade security protocols and military-grade encryption to keep all information and transactions secured. Payments are transferred directly from bank to bank reducing the risk of fraud.
- borderless is trackable. All parties can access real-time payment tracking providing users with total control over their cash flow.
What sets borderless apart?
Our team, infrastructure, and focus is what sets us apart.
In recent years, there has been significant innovation in the peer-to-peer (P2P) payments space such Venmo, Zelle, and CashApp. Business-to-business (B2B) transactions have not seen the same focus of such innovations. This has pushed businesses to traditional payment methods like credit cards, bank wires, and checks. More than 40 percent of US business payments are still made by checks.*
That’s where borderless comes in. We provide a global bank payment solution that is just as user-friendly as P2P payment solutions, but designed specifically for business payments.
In addition to business to business payments, we offer 4 main services: Contractor Payouts to pay remote teams, E-commerce plugin to accept bank payments online, Subscriptions to automate payments, and our Bank Payments API to execute multiple bank payments using a few lines of code.
Using our unique infrastructure, we avoid unnecessary bank fees; and with rates as low as 0.1 percent we can save you up to 90 percent on payment processing fees.
*If your business still collects or issues checks, give me call, we need to change that statistic!
What was the greatest challenge you encountered in launching your startup and how did you overcome it?
Outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, there hasn’t been one singular insurmountable challenge, but rather a continuous series of challenges that we’ve faced. From compliance, to tech integrations, to finding the right team members, we’ve faced challenges at every turn. When looking back at how we got started, there is one thing that stands out: none of our team came from a traditional finance background. Our capabilities were questioned by many industry experts since we did not come from the same financial background as they did. However, we believe this difference was the key ingredient to making borderless a success. Our perspective allowed us to rethink payments and ultimately deliver a solution that uniquely improves the lives of our users. At each turn we are reframing challenges as opportunities – opportunities to get creative, problem solve, and try things in ways that haven’t been done before.[Text Wrapping Break]
What are you most proud of about Borderless?
borderless recently won Fintech Startup of The Year at the 2021 US Fintech Awards. This award is very special for borderless as it comes on the heels of a particularly challenging year. Like most folks, we were deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am incredibly proud of how the borderless team came together and adapted to the changing market. Thanks to the tenacity of the team we were able to quickly release several new features that leveraged the insights we uncovered during the pandemic. For example, we discovered that with companies working remotely, the need to pay a globally distributed team was a major pain point. With the release of our contractor payouts feature, we now enable businesses send payouts to 60+ countries in one click.
What piece of advice do you have for new founders – or – what have you learned that you wish you’d known when launching a startup?
This has been a journey of tremendous learning and personal growth. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:
Patience – things take much more time to shape and bring to life than you may initially think. Having that foresight and taking a longer-term view of your entrepreneurship journey helps you set accurate expectations for yourself and your team which inspires confidence in your vision.
Plan for the worst, then multiply the worst-case scenario by 3 – whether it is time to market or funding needed it always takes more than you think.
Build a Team – surrounding yourself with talented, smart, and mission-driven people can be the make or break of your company. Whether they are your employees, co-founders, investors, or advisors they will be the ones to help you rise above challenges and take your company to the next level. My team not only gives me the confidence, but pushes me to think bigger and continuously improve how things are done.
Grit and perseverance – in every entrepreneurship journey there are highs and lows. Celebrate the small wins. Be curious in solving problems, understand the why behind things, and know that there is no barrier too high for you to overcome.
What is the most important ingredient or ingredients for a thriving startup ecosystem?
At its core, an ecosystem is a community that interacts with each other. A startup ecosystem is comprised of many community members like startups, mentors, investors, talent, and support programs rallying around the common goal of innovation. Fostering a sense of purpose in the community will allow it to spread and prosper. That sense of purpose naturally attracts the two fundamental components for a thriving startup ecosystem: (1) capital, and (2) innovative entrepreneurs.
What makes Kentucky a great place to innovate?
The community and resources available to founders at different stages of the entrepreneurship journey make Kentucky a great place to innovate. Kentucky offers multiple programs that provide aspiring entrepreneurs with equity-free capital, physical space, and access to mentorship and resources. Together, they lower the barriers and risk associated with entrepreneurship and bringing innovative ideas to life. Kentucky also has a strong, supportive community of founders and investors who are ready and willing to provide guidance and support as you look to grow your company.
Know a startup founder or entrepreneur with a story to tell about their journey? Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.