In the Familiar Faces series, our Target Accelerators Program Managers check in with companies who have participated in one of our Target Accelerators programs. This is a chance to dig in and learn more about each company’s growth since completing their Target Accelerators experience and our way of continuing to root them on every step of the entrepreneurial way. Welcome to Familiar Faces.
Checking in with Sezzle, Target Technology Accelerator alum
Sezzle believes financial freedom can be achieved by all. With their shop now, pay later technology, Sezzle is growing their number of retail partners who want to enable shoppers to take control of their financial futures and spend responsibly. Charlie Youakim, co-founder and CEO, and Paul Paradis, co-founder and President, share updates on Sezzle’s growth and what might be next.
Interview by Sarah Hill, Target Technology Accelerator Program Manager
Sarah: Thanks for checking in with us, Charlie and Paul. A lot has happened in the world since you went through our Tech Accelerator program. How has Sezzle grown in these past 18 months?
Paul: We’ve experienced tremendous growth across the company. When we first entered the program, the prior quarter for us (Q1 2019) finished with the following key metrics: Underlying Merchant Sales of US$28m, 270k active users, and 3,000 active merchants. As of Q3 2020, we posted the following key metrics: Underlying Merchant Sales of US$228m, 1.7m active users, and over 19,000 active merchants.
Sarah: While mentoring the most recent Tech Accelerator cohort, you spoke very favorably about your IPO. Can you give more context on why that was such a beneficial move for Sezzle?
Charlie: Whenever I talk about being a public company vs a private company I always it feels like the private world feels like the land of Neanderthals to me now (I’m sorry – no offense meant!). It’s just so much better being public.
Being public has multiple benefits, and many of them are founder-centric. First, you ‘grow up’. You’re forced to add higher levels of compliance and process. You’re also held to a higher standard, which is good for your company.
Next, you get tons of free PR. You release results quarterly, and they always tend to be good results, because you’re in growth mode. Additionally, the equity you include in your employment packages can be measured, which increases its value.
And finally, if you do work in the b2b realm with enterprise clients, those enterprise clients view you more favorably. It’s a win on many levels.
Sarah: I’m guessing it also just feels better to be a Public Benefits Corp; why did you become one?
Paul: We did it because we believe in a mission-based, stakeholder approach to business. That philosophy completely aligns with being a Public Benefits Corp. We’re really proud of that designation and we’ll continue to strive towards being seen as a social good type organization.
Sarah: You had thousands of existing customers prior to working with Target, what has working with Target taught you?
Paul: Working with enterprise, like a Target, is so different. Unfortunately, enterprise sales is a very slow process. Target has exemplified that for us. We’ve been talking to team members at Target for over 4 years and we’ve only just gone live. Winning enterprise (and Target) is worth it, but you need to make sure that you’re designing your business in a way that you can have success regardless of these long timelines.
Sarah: What was the reaction from Sezzle users when they found out they could use it both on target.com and in Target stores?
Charlie: Oh my. It’s a huge win for our customers. They LOVE IT. It’s hard to explain how much our user loves the potential partnership, but the love is definitely there.
Sarah: Speaking of love…CONGRATS on welcoming your new baby recently, Charlie!! Do you think your next startup will be in the baby industry?
Charlie: Ha! I think my hands are full with the baby and Sezzle. I’m not even thinking about the next thing right now.
Sarah: Hands full indeed! Can you give us a peek into what might be next for Sezzle though?
Charlie: We’re going to keep on working on adding great features and improvements for our customers. Sezzle Up is probably the best example of that. It’s an upgrade path within Sezzle that allows our customers to build their credit score up. We love the product enhancement because it’s something we’d do for our own kids – so it makes total sense for us to add it to our product.
For more information on Sezzle, check out sezzle.com