We combed through websites, interviewed tech experts, and researched a host of product categories to assemble, once again, the roster of 20 companies that make up our annual “Tech Companies to Watch.” We uncovered a wide range of technologies and products that would be valuable to finance chiefs, and we also discovered a wealth of innovation going on in “traditional” finance-related tech categories.
The entirety of the list appears in the April/May 2018 edition of CFO magazine. We are revealing the first 10 companies on CFO.com, one per day. Our first two tech companies to watch were Pymetrics and Prattle. Today, we cover Tipalti and its global accounts payable automation platform. Other companies in the 2018 list appear at the end of this story.
What company doesn’t want to improve its working capital? One step toward that goal involves seeking efficiencies in accounts payable processes. But the area has been somewhat neglected, especially for companies that don’t have the capital to piece together best-of-breed treasury management solutions or invoice processing systems.
Instead, their overworked accounts payable staffers type in supplier information manually, collect tax forms via email in a mad scramble at year-end, and log-on to five or six bank portals to execute payments. Even the “top performers” in a benchmarking analysis from APQC have to manually key in 42% of their invoices.
It’s a void in automation that Chen Amit, co-founder and CEO of Tipalti, saw as an opportunity.
“Midmarket companies don’t have the resources to go all out solving this problem,” Amit says, and instead do what they would rather not — throw more and more people at accounts payable. Even large companies have this problem: some are using as many as 22 full-time-equivalent employees in AP per $1 billion of revenue, according to APQC.
Tipalti (Hebrew for “I took care of it”) is a global payables automation solution that claims it can automate 80% of the work. The product isn’t the only horse in the running, but it seems better-equipped and more enterprise-ready than services like Bill.com.
Tipalti’s open API application allows users to make payments across 190 countries and in 120 currencies, and those users can offer suppliers six different forms of payment (PayPal, prepaid debit cards, wire transfer, U.S. ACH, global ACH, and local bank transfer).
The Silicon Valley firm has racked up many big-name tech clients, including Amazon, GoDaddy, Roku, Indeed, and Twitter. And its solution seems to be scaling well: men’s fashion website Touch of Modern implemented Tipalti when it had $6 million in revenue; it’s still using the platform at $150 million in revenue. And, according to Robert Israch, Tipalti’s chief marketing officer, the company has not hired another AP person since adopting Tipalti.
About 2 million payees use the Tipalti platform, and it has processed as much as $4.5 billion of payments in a year. It’s particularly suited to multi-entity organizations.
“I think you need to have a few hundred payments a month to start feeling the pain. If [the volume is] smaller than that, your admin or your accountant will be able to handle the burden, but once you hit a few hundred a month, then it becomes too risky, painful, and expensive,” Amit says.
A key to Tipalti’s success is the ease with which a client’s suppliers can sign up. The system also provides visibility into a payment’s status and notifies suppliers when their payments go out. A wizard walks suppliers through tax forms. And if a supplier wants to change payment methods, no work on the part of the payer is required.
For clients (payers), the setup can be fast, says Amit. Some organizations can sign up on a Monday and make payments on the platform by Friday. The more complex implementations take longer. Twitter, for example, uses “every bell and whistle that Tipalti offers,” and implementation took six weeks from the time Tipalti won the request for proposal to when Twitter made its first payment on the system.
Tipalti raised $30 million in a series C round in February, which should help in defending its market territory by finding areas to add value. The company introduced a purchase order matching capability in January that adds machine learning on top of invoice processing.
For being a leader in automating payment workflows, Tipalti merits watching.
Other 2018 Tech Companies to Watch