Benoit Menardo and Avinash Sukhwani: A Duo of Astute and Visionary Professionals

Benoit Menardo and Avinash Sukhwani

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Evidently, since the arrival of the novel coronavirus, the payment and card industry is on the path of transformation. The pandemic has pushed more towards digital modes of payment. The industry has witnessed notable changes such as the extensive growth of cardless and mobile payments to breakthroughs in Payment infrastructure and the ways people send money such as Visa Direct. Making the most of the increasing opportunities in the sector, several new players are stepping into the Payment and Card Industry.

Established in March 2020, Payflow is one such startup that is catering to the changing needs of the industry. Being a COVID-born startup, Payflow was not affected by the changes in the industry and the new normal was the actual normal for the company. The Barcelona-based startup is a brainchild of Benoit Menardo and Avinash Sukhwani (Co-founders of Payflow)—a duo of ingenious and ardent entrepreneurs committed to changing lives by improving the way people get paid.

Initial Steps in the Fintech Industry

The educational and professional journeys of both Benoit and Avinash display similarities. Both of them are multilingual and have lived in various parts of the world. Benoit, in particular, has lived in 5 continents and learned 8 languages. Additionally, the duo has an engineering background. Avinash pursued his education from Cambridge and MIT while Benoit studied at Mines ParisTech, MIT, and INSEAD MBA. Both of them have also been consultants—Avinash at BCG and Benoit at Bain & Company.

Prior to founding Payflow, the duo worked for Rocket Internet as Founders on different ventures and learned how to scale a business. However, their interest in the Payment and Card industry was initiated way back when they were roommates at MIT. They realized that people in the USA were not getting paid once a month. They were getting paid twice a month or even once a week, and some of them even used apps to get paid on demand. This was 8 years ago and both of them envisioned establishing Payflow. This marked the beginning of their journey in the fintech industry.

The Life-changing Decision

Despite their innate desire to go on their own, the journey towards establishing Payflow was not easy for both Benoit and Avinash. They knew leaving their jobs would make things only worse and it would have been a lot easier to stay with their lives until the world normalized. However, they did not like it the easy way and took the difficult decision to start from scratch a venture in the middle of a pandemic.

The duo, however, loved challenges and wanted to bring the much-needed change in the way people get paid. “If we think about it, hundreds of years ago people were paid when they worked, and everyone was happy. It changed for the worse because it would be complicated for a big company to pay their employees when they want,” adds Avinash. The duo wanted to bring this freedom back and thus took the life-changing decision to establish Payflow.

Providing Access to Liquidity

Incepted a year ago, Payflow has scaled at an unbelievable speed in the crowded space of salary-in-advance. For the employees, the company provides a simple mobile application to charge when they want and receive their money instantly and for free. On the other hand, for employers, Payflow provides an intuitive and complete cloud platform to manage the payflow and transform the experience of their employees. These innovative solutions have provided advantages such as a drop in employee turnover, improved employee experience, and improved productivity.

Unlike most competitors, we do not have the hubris of saying that we invented the concept of salary-in-advance, but we believe we have developed a well-rounded product of financial wellbeing including much more than mere advances,” says Benoit.

Payflow was established with a primary aim to solve the biggest challenge in the current situation—access to liquidity. It found that its competitors were charging the end-user for the service—which for the company was, on the top of being borderline illegal—totally unethical in the current context. Payflow’s mission drives its products and unique features it develops, leading to a quicker adaption and a stronger engagement than the market standard.

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Desire to Make the World Better

The desire to make the world better, as cheesy as it sounds. We sincerely believe that we can make a great impact in this industry in the current context, and this is what inspires us,” asserts Benoit. As the co-founders, the duo splits responsibilities based on urgency. Avinash takes care of the present viz. operations and sales, while Benoit takes care of the future viz. fundraising and products. “This gives us a unique way of running a business that has been so far very efficient. Additionally, it is extremely complementary as the future needs present and vice versa,” Benoit continues.

Opportunities and Challenges

The demand for Payflow’s solutions has been positively impacted by the pandemic as employees need the service now more than ever. However, the flip side is on the selling side. Payflow only sells to companies that are facing hard times and for which implementing an innovative solution is not a priority. Thus, the main challenge for the company is to create this sense of urgency around implementing the tool.

Benoit believes that some of the changes of 2021 will remain in 2021 and beyond. He believes that it will never be strange to work from home a day or two, or even go fully remote. “We don’t expect that by the end of 2021 everything will be back to pre-COVID, but anticipate a clear recovery for the second half of the year,” he adds.

Scope of Improvement

Talking about the scope of improvement for companies in the Payment and Card industry, Avinash states that a company can fail in the industry by not giving real care to the needs of the population. According to him, it all comes back to a product’s market fit and the value it provides. He further mentions that a pitfall in a few companies in the industry is that the solution does not answer a very clear problem. “The best way to prevent this is to constantly talk to you consumers and make sure what you do is relevant and solves a pain,” he concludes.

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Read full issue: The 10 Most Renowned Payment and Card Leaders 2021

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