HIGHLINE 2015 Investment: Payso

by Bianca Bartz 1 year ago

When social payments app Payso came across our radar at the end of 2014, one co-founder (Natalie Cartwright) was based in Canada while the other (Jake Tyler) was unable to join her as an Australian without a work permit. Fast forward to early 2015, and Payso officially joined the HIGHLINE portfolio and set up shop in both our Vancouver and Toronto offices.

Here’s How it Works

Payso is a Canadian iPhone and Android app that lets users easily and securely send money to friends without any charges or fees. It works by linking to your VISA or MasterCard, and takes out funds at no charge whenever you want to send money to a friend. When receiving a Payso payment, you can choose to either transfer the funds back to your credit card, or leave it in your Payso Wallet until the next time you need to pay a friend back for lunch, drinks or a weekend away.

But What About Venmo?

If you’ve split a bill with a Millennial friend in the States recently, there’s a good chance they suggested you can just “Venmo it” to them. And if you’re Canadian, you were probably stumped until they explained that Venmo is an app that lets you transfer money for free between friends… and then left disappointed when you realized Venmo doesn’t exist in Canada. For our American friends, that’s hard to believe since Venmo has become ubiquitous among their Gen Yers — in the first quarter of 2014 alone Venmo handled $314 million in mobile payments.

While Venmo (acquired by Braintree, which was then acquired by PayPal) has exploded in popularity in the US, there have been no viable free p2p money sharing solutions in Canada up until now, making Payso a national pioneer.

Because Reminding Friends They Owe You Money is Awkward

Payso’s Co-founder & CEO Jake Tyler came up with the idea while doing his MBA in Spain and looking for a solution to a personal problem. He found himself faced with a recurring challenge that he had already encountered while living in London — easily splitting bills with friends — so he decided to build a solution.

“Payso was the simplest possible solution to the problem of splitting a bill, be it sharing expenses with flat-mates, or dividing up the tab at dinner,” Jake told us, explaining how complicated his initial few business models had been. “Getting to that – cutting everything out – took me a lot of time and a lot of iterations. Other people in the market have more complicated versions, like Tilt, and there were different versions of that in Europe.”

More than a logistical way to track group spending and distribute individual tabs, Payso also removes the most awkward part of divvying up money: reminding friends they owe you. Through automated alerts, Payso will ping your friends to notify them that you’ve requested money, then continue to send little reminders over the coming days to jog their memory, allowing you to focus your personal conversations on shared memories rather than finances.

The Founding Team

Jake met Nat, now Payso’s COO, during their MBA program in Spain.

“We were in separate classes in the MBA program so it wasn’t til later in the MBA when our accelerator teams were working together that we became friends,” Nat shared. “Jake was one of the most impressive people in the program. I told him, ‘Jake of anyone in the class, you’re my horse.’ I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d ever see him again – he was an Australian and I was a Canadian – but I knew he was going to do great things.”

After the program, Nat and Jake continued to discuss the idea that would become Payso, and eventually they both moved to Canada to build the business, spending time in both Vancouver and Toronto. Their third Co-Founder & CTO, Guru Sivananda Reddy Atlu, will be joining them shortly, also thanks to Canada’s Startup Visa program.

HIGHLINE made our investment in Payso in February 2015, and the startup’s growing team has been working out of our Vancouver and Toronto offices since.

“It was so exciting to be recognized as a team that was at a stage and of potential to be accepted into HIGHLINE,” Nat shared. “That was one of the highlights – we really hold on to the successes, and that was a great validation for us. And all of the support that comes along with it: sitting here and telling our story, and getting support with media, and having a team behind you that’s really making sure you’re successful. And being able to leverage all the experience from the other founders.”

Since moving into the space, Payso’s team has expanded to include Designer & Product Manager Cole Devoy and Web Developer Stephen Hammond.

Traction & Recognition

Since launch, Payso has attracted media and investor attention across North America. They were selected to pitch on Dragon’s Den, nominated as a DigiBC finalist, were a Top 15 Startup at Metabridge, and won the OCE FinTech investor pitch competition in April. Nat has also been strongly involved with women in tech initiatives, including the Vinetta Project in New York.
Payso is now working on completing their seed round, which has received strong interest from notable investors across the country.

Media links

  • Peer-to-peer app aims to unseat Interac – and it’s free (Globe & Mail)
  • #YVR FinTech: The business of your money is changing (BetaKit)
  • #YVR FinTech: A cultural shift towards money (BetaKit)
  • Payso wins OCE FinTech Investor Pitch Competition (BetaKit)
  • Metabridge Names 15 of Canada’s Hottest Tech Startups (TechVibes)

HIGHLINE posts about Payso

Payso quote highline