Scaling a SaaS company. Lessons from NexPay.
Article by Janeece Keller, StackGo
NexPay is a global payments platform for paying international school fees and transferring allowances or other educational-related expenses.
We love working with innovative businesses operating in niche spaces. There’s no shortage of fintech innovation, but we like how NexPay has gone deep in a specific use case; collecting payments for universities from overseas students coming to Australia.
Innovation is about improving people’s lives in a way that generates economic gain. NexPay is a great example of that, and it’s always interesting to learn how different companies think about scaling their business.
Here’s what Matt Collis uncovered when he spoke to Piew Yap, NexPay’s CEO.
Tell us about NexPay.
Piew: NexPay is a global education payments platform. Thousands of international students use NexPay to pay school fees or transfer allowances when they’re studying overseas. We’re a niche SaaS payments company in the education sector.
Our vision is to make international transfers seamless for students, parents, and education businesses alike. We strive to provide the best service and the best rates.
At what stage is the NexPay business?
Piew: We’re at a unique stage. We have been around for 10 years, but we have effectively circled back to operate like a startup. It took some time to shift to a startup mindset and culture, but there is no looking back once it is done. We are constantly asking questions, looking for better ways to do things. We engage and listen to our clients. We work as a team.
The results were amazing; the team was getting better results with less time spent. Our clients love us even more.
Tell us a bit more about that. Who are NexPay’s customers?
Piew: Education consultants and agents who assist international students in deciding which country, which school, what course, where to stay, visa, and so on. They consult hundreds of students every year.
Before Nexpay, payments were made with banks. That often costs more, and tracking payments is a nightmare.
Matt: So Nexpay improves convenience and reduces cost for education agents.
Piew: Yes! We have clients who used to hire a team just to reconcile and chase down outstanding payments. NexPay solves that. We provide users with a dashboard to track and check the statuses of every single payment. It really streamlines their process. So they can focus on working with the students, giving them the best advice.
You mentioned that you’re in a growth phase at the moment. What are your growth plans?
Piew: We’ve got big plans for 2021. With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in progress, we expect that the borders will start reopening by the 2nd half of the year. Especially in the major countries that receive international students.
Our top priority at the moment is to help our clients expand into China and India. We also plan on opening up more payment options and expanding our product offering.
Matt: It sounds like you’re chasing product-driven growth through new features and functionality. Can you share some of your marketing plans?
Piew: We believe a great product will sell itself. Of course, it will be backed up by a good digital marketing strategy, industry conferences, and event sponsorships.
What are some of the challenges NexPay is facing?
Piew: The first challenge is reaching out to enough people to let them know about us. There’s so much content on the internet. And we compete against some much larger companies who have a marketing budget many times ours. But we believe that how we spend it makes a difference.
The second major challenge is that we need to address credibility. There is a belief that if you’re big, then you’re trustworthy. And that’s not necessarily the case.
From an integration perspective, we need to look at platforms that we can plug into because we can’t be everything to everyone.
We are a specialist payment platform, and there are a wide variety of CRMs that our clients use. We don’t have the time or money to build out every client request. So our strategy is to integrate with other SaaS platforms to deliver what our customers need.
Can you explain more about how you approach software integrations?
Piew: I’ll share one of our recent client conversations.
They are an education provider, and they've had issues with their payment processes; collecting payments, reconciliation, and tracking what has been paid and what has not been paid.
The CRM they use doesn’t have the payment functionality they need. Their CRM just has basic functions. So they need a specialist payment company like us.
But where it gets complicated is when they asked if our API integrates with Hubspot (their current CRM). Then said that they were likely to move to a different CRM, and did we integrate with that one too? Finally, they told us that another part of their business uses a portal CRM to really be beneficial. NexPay would need to integrate with that one too.
My response was that, “Our platform is built to be easily integrated.”
But I was thinking to myself, the next client I talk to will come up with a different list CRMs that will need us to integrate with.
It’s a near-impossible task for software providers like us to integrate with everything that’s out there. Especially when you read about a new one every day. It’s pretty much impossible to keep up.
It would be great if there were an API adapter. Like a universal travel adapter which I can just plug in any country, and things just work. It would be great if there were an API integration adaptor like that.
Matt: So what you’re saying is that it would be ideal if you could build one API integration that would let you get found in multiple places? And that by doing that, it would fast track your growth?
Matt: And in terms of addressing the need to have NexPay found more easily, have you looked at the marketplaces of the SaaS platforms you’re looking to integrate with?
Piew: We haven’t got to that stage yet. It’s on our roadmap to look at a few of the big-name CRMs and see which one is better for us to integrate.
Because we have limited resources, we can’t afford to integrate with multiple SaaS platforms. So we’ll choose, hopefully, just one or two to integrate with.
To make that decision, we need to find out which marketplace most of our users (and education agents and providers) use.
Once we understand that, we’ll take the top three from the list and look at what providers are already integrated and which ones offer the same things.
We will make a decision based on the reach as well as the competition within the marketplace. And of course, how difficult it will be to build the integration.
I see this as a never-ending task. If you want to get into the detail, you’ll be spending a lot of time analysing before you can make a decision. And to make it harder, the platforms keep adding new functionality, new parameters, new API frameworks. It is just too difficult to keep up with the market.
Matt: As you say, there’s so many different parameters and data points, and everyone does it differently. So to make a full analysis is almost unachievable at the moment because there’s too much information. There are too many options. There are too many marketplaces.
So what’s next for NexPay?
Piew: In three years' time, NexPay will be a truly global FX platform for the education sector. Hopefully, by then, we’ll have branched out slightly from education to other sectors like migration and wealth management.
Matt: Awesome. It sounds like you know that international education is just such an important part of our society—all the cross-cultural learnings.
COVID-19 aside, I believe it’s an important part of our future to be educated overseas. And, it’s great to hear that the NexPay solution is addressing real-life issues – ones that you’ve had yourself. It’ll be great to see what other tools you build to make the lives of students and education providers easier.
To find the right SaaS integration for your business, check out the StackGo Marketplace. You’ll find commercial and technical information on dozens of SaaS marketplaces – many of which you’ll know, as well as a few new gems you won’t.