Zoe Newman joined Capital on Tap in 2012, its founding year, fresh out of school. She has worked her way around the business from operations, product, partnerships, and, most recently, launching the product and team in new geographies.
Having recently moved from London to Atlanta in the US, she is now the US Managing Director and building out the US business and team – along with enjoying all the new local Southern experiences and culture…and the fried chicken!
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Zoe’s personal journey
- The story of their US expansion
- Capital on Tap
- The evolution of their product
- Atlanta as their US headquarters
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:03] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on pay. Built in Atlanta, on pay is the top rated payroll and HR software anywhere. Get one month free at on pay. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor on pay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories today on the Atlanta Business Radio. We have Zoe Newman with Capital on Tap. Welcome, Zoe.
Zoe Newman: [00:00:49] Hi, Lee.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:50] Hello there. I am so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about Capital on Tap. How are you serving folks?
Zoe Newman: [00:00:57] Sure. So thanks so much for inviting me to join today. And just to give you a bit of background about us, so as you can probably tell from my accent, I’m not originally from Atlanta. I have recently moved to the city from London. Earlier this year I’ve been working with Capital on tap since we first got started in 2012. And really our goal is to support small businesses, to access a really streamlined, easy to use business rewards credit card and basically all the all the good features and good stuff that they would expect from a small business card. But just trying to make that better, using better technology, better customer experience and really supporting their small business to give them the time to focus back on running their business and not having to worry about their finances.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:46] Can you talk about the genesis of the idea since you were such an early employee there? Was it always kind of geared to that small to midsize business owner to give them the capital they needed?
Zoe Newman: [00:01:58] Yeah, yeah, for sure. So as I said, it started in 2012 and originally we were trying to figure out what the best product was to support small businesses and their kind of working capital and payment needs. So we’d always been small business focused. It wasn’t kind of a broader market that we were looking at and then we drilled in on small businesses. So we’ve we’ve always kind of our founders and our roots have always been embedded in supporting small businesses in the best possible way. And when we first started out, we were more kind of a traditional loan facility and giving customers access to funds through a kind of working capital loan solution. And it was probably kind of four or five years in that we started to test out our credit card products, and that’s really where things took off. We saw amazing engagement from our customer base and customers were really kind of pleased they could use a line of credit with a really great rewards card and option earning, earning rewards for all of their business expenses in the U.K. It’s just not such a common thing to be to be earning rewards on all your credit card spend. And so we saw this huge opportunity in the small business market in the U.K. And then early 2021, we launched the business over in the US and have started to support small business and customers with the rewards card over here.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:22] So you got the short straw. That’s why they sent you over here. Or how did that how did you get chosen for this adventure?
Zoe Newman: [00:03:29] I definitely don’t think I got the short straw. It’s been an amazing adventure so far. Really awesome opportunity to come over to the US and to build the team and operations over here. So I was the last kind of two or three years was looking at international expansion, looking at new markets that could be interesting for the business to expand into. And the US had always been one that was kind of front of mind for us. Our CEO and CEO are both from Atlanta and they they definitely had a connection here and kind of that that goal of launching into the US. It’s always been been one for us. And so as we started looking into different markets, it then became apparent that US was going to be a great one just in terms of market size, opportunity and kind of some of the opportunities with with payments and banking systems here. I’ve, I haven’t used a checkbook so much since I’ve been over here in the last 20 years in the UK, I think. So there’s definitely opportunities to be really streamlining and improving that payments journey for small businesses.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:32] And then when you were looking at coming to America because of some of your leadership was from Atlanta. That’s why Atlanta got chosen. Or did you look at kind of the different places to be? And just because of the strength of our fintech, this became like kind of a logical place for you.
Zoe Newman: [00:04:49] Yeah. And I definitely, definitely a bit of both. And that connection to Atlanta was was strong for the for the leadership team and just coincidentally was also a really strong city in terms of payments, infrastructure and talent and and fintechs more generally. As I’ve as I’ve spent more time here, I keep seeing more and more amazing fintech companies popping up that I’ve been starting to connect with. So there’s a really awesome and kind of network and community of entrepreneurs, venture funds and investors, and also kind of the fintech space. So yeah, it’s been a really, really, really good opportunity and. Any great talent here. And yeah, it just just feels like we just sort of scratch the surface and really sing some some great stuff from Atlanta.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:37] So how do you kind of kind of penetrate America? It’s such a large market and there are so many business people where I would think that this is something they should know about and, you know, and try. How do you kind of get the word out to help, you know, put your card on their radar?
Zoe Newman: [00:05:58] Yeah, it’s a good question. So our kind of playbook and how we’ve approached things has been see what has worked well in the. We’ve got that sort of foundation and that knowledge. And we’ve then brought over and kind of followed up one of our key values, which is just pilot and testing that and seeing if that sticks in the US market and has some traction here, and then if it works, then we run with it. So we’ve tried a complete mixture from online marketing channels, digital channels and PPC and pay per click and using AdWords, that sort of thing. We also have been approaching a lot of the aggregator sites. So those platforms where you would want to look for a credit card and you know the kind of household names of ones to go to and reaching out to those providers and trying to get listed. That’s been a really good opportunity for us to kind of gain brand recognition and credibility in the US market, where we’re pretty new. We also have used direct mail in the UK, so have started campaigns with with that channel and then also looking at some above the line, we’ve done some podcast sponsoring, we’ve looked at kind of some magazine ads and billboards potentially in the future as well.
Zoe Newman: [00:07:17] So really for us it’s kind of looking at those different opportunities and seeing which ones kind of work from a pilot perspective, sort of putting a small budget into one of those channels and seeing if we can attract the right business customers, if we can convert those customers to being kind of loyal customers that are choosing to use our card over others in their wallet and then doubling down as soon as we get that traction and we can prove that those economics are working and really then kind of going full throttle to roll that out and grow that channel as much as we can. One of the other interesting ones we found in the US has been, which has been interesting because the UK has been customer referrals and and influencer channel as well. So I think it’s a British thing. People often don’t like to talk about their credit products and if they’ve if they signed up for a credit card. But we’ve seen some really good opportunities through our customers, really going out and telling their networks, telling their small business owner friends about capital on tap and really getting the word out there, which has been it’s been an awesome channel for us.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:26] Yeah, that kind of organic growth is probably the best because it’s coming right from the horse’s mouth. People who are benefiting from it.
Zoe Newman: [00:08:32] Exactly. Exactly. Just yeah. That whole piece, as I mentioned, sort of brand recognition, credibility being a new small business credit card in the market takes some time for people to trust and kind of be willing to take a punt on us. So having that that word of mouth and yeah, people telling their friends and kind of backing us in our abilities has been a really, really great channel for us and for some great customers.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:58] So let’s educate the market. So tell us about capital on tap and tell us why a small business would benefit by using your service.
Zoe Newman: [00:09:08] Sure. So as I mentioned, we are really trying to make it as quick, easy, streamlined and simple as possible to sign up and start using our credit cards. So we have a very simple application form. It’s one page on our website. On tap. And we don’t ask for a ton of documentation. We try and source that data as much as we can so that the customer’s not having to send in lots of paperwork and lots of proof of business and all of those types of things that traditional credit card providers might ask for. And we have an all digital journey. So within four or five clicks, the, the business owner can be all the way through the process and can be accessing a virtual card to add into their digital wallet and then can be using that, that credit card for their business spend and so matter of minutes that they can get all the way through that process. And then once they once their virtual card is activated and ready to go, they can start using it for their business, earning 1.5% rewards on all their spend, and also activating additional cards for any employees in the business. They want to get signed up as well. So your finance manager, your sales manager, people team, any of those different employees can have access to. The cards can have spend controls, receipt management, tracking, and then all of that spend can flow through into your counting package. So hopefully launching with QuickBooks in the next few weeks so that any spend on the card is just straight into QuickBooks and can be easily reconciled for your business. So just really easy to use simple products with great rewards and credit limits that small businesses are looking for and needing to help them manage their cash flow a bit more effectively.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:59] Now, is the business solely focused on business credit cards, or is it eventually going to be like, you’ll be my kind of merchant account where I can clear credit cards myself in my business? Or is this the kind of the main and sole service that you’re offering businesses at this point?
Zoe Newman: [00:11:18] Yeah. So for now, we are fully focused on the credit card products and it’s tough to build a credit card product. So we want to make sure we’re doing it right and we’re focused on building the best products that we can. And I think often other financial institutions, fintechs, can try and do a lot of different products for a lot of different people. That’s not what we’re about. And so we are really focused on supporting small business owners who historically have been forgotten about by other financial companies that maybe are going after consumers or going after larger corporates. And so we always think there is a market that’s really underserved. We want to fully dedicate and focus our time on supporting those customers. And for now that credit card products, we’ve still got work to do. We can still make it better. So we want to focus on making that the best we can. And who knows, in the future there will be other opportunities, hopefully other products we can start to look at, see what pain points we can solve for our customers, take that feedback in and start to develop over time, but for now pretty fully focused on the credit card.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:24] Now, is your team solely in Atlanta or do you kind of have boots on the ground in other parts of the country?
Zoe Newman: [00:12:31] Solely in Atlanta, we have one office and that is in Atlanta. And we do have a couple of remote team members. We have one one lady who is up in Brooklyn and then a couple of members of our team are in Maine, but everybody else based in Atlanta, majority of people coming into our midtown office. And yeah, just just really building out that that office culture and kind of startup atmosphere here in Atlanta.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:58] And so how has it been have you been able to get you know, are you are you growing at the pace you’d like or what do you need more of? How can we help?
Zoe Newman: [00:13:08] Yeah, it’s been it’s been good. It’s the first few months I was I was remote from London. That was definitely pretty challenging. And time zones and just not being able to be here was, was tough. But since I’ve been able to be here and since we’ve started to kind of build out our office in this midtown location, we’ve brought in a number of people. We’ve got over 50 people in our office here now. And so, yeah, really just always looking for new talent and new people to join the team and any of your listeners. I would I would always suggest reach out to us if people are looking for new roles in a in a new fintech interested in the space, we always love to hear from you. And then yeah, really try now to support as many small businesses. We’ve started to do a few events in Atlanta to reach out to the Small Business Network here. But yeah, if anybody is interested in kind of checking out our products, please, please come and see us and have a look on our website and reach out for any questions you’ve got.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:09] Now, is there a certain type of business this is better for? Like, is it better for, you know, brick and mortar stores is a better for ecommerce? Is it any service business, professional service, creative like? Is there a better fit or is it just kind of industry agnostic? And if you’re a small business, then you should consider this product exactly that.
Zoe Newman: [00:14:34] Yeah, we really try and keep it industry agnostic. We’re not specifically focused on ecommerce or service providers. We really want to keep it broad. And the small businesses we serve usually kind of less than 20 employees and kind of not multimillion dollar revenue is probably our sweet spot. So those smaller mom and pop independent retailers, stores, consultants, landscapers, they have real, real mixture of businesses. But as I said, ones that are often kind of seemed to be underserved by the banks can be forgotten about in terms of the products that is offered to them. And so that’s the pain points that we’re really trying to solve. So again, no industry specifics. Any school business definitely welcome to apply.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:26] Now, is there an annual fee for this?
Zoe Newman: [00:15:30] No, no annual fees. No fees. So if you’re ever traveling abroad and you’ve been charged 3% by a lot of the other traditional banks, yet we do it as a 0% fee on any international spend, no fees for kind of adding supplementary cardholders. And we also don’t leave any hard inquiry on the individual’s credit report. So no harm in applying. So it has no impact on the individual that makes the application always worth. I would recommend to anyone to just fill in that one page application and see if you can get through that journey and hopefully you would be approved and it has no impact on your on your personal credit.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:15] And if somebody wants to learn more, what’s the website or best way to connect with you?
Zoe Newman: [00:16:21] So our website is WW Capital On Tap and if you want to learn more, reach out. I’m on LinkedIn. My name is Zoe Newman and. Yeah. Come and come and come and learn more. Come and see more on our Twitter page or Instagram page. And hopefully we’ll be supporting many more small businesses in Atlanta over the coming months.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:44] Well, Zoe, thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Zoe Newman: [00:16:49] Thanks so much, Neal.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:51] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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