U.S. small businesses are strong and their revenue is projected to be even stronger as more people, especially millennials, look to entrepreneurship for more flexibility and opportunity. A recent poll found that 59 percent of young people say they want to ditch their jobs and work for themselves, but entrepreneurship can be challenging even for those with top skills. Technology is also rapidly changing the dynamics of what it means to be a small business owner and one of the few remaining tools that have not kept up with the times is the core business bank account.
Making Entrepreneurship Easier
Azlo, a digital small business banking account geared towards new entrepreneurs, freelancers and the gig economy is building a new platform designed specifically to make starting a business easier. The data is clear- 34% of the workforce is currently in the gig economy and by 2020, that number will rise to 50%. Azlo, backed by BBVA Compass, is making its mark by eliminating the barriers to entry for these entrepreneurs by offering a no-fee, no-minimum business banking account. But no-fees does not mean no frills. The platform is leading the way with easy digital on-boarding, automation and in-app invoicing.
Meaningful Partnerships for Seamless Integration
While the proliferation of digital solutions has substantially unbunded financial services, there is a new movement in fintech that is leveraging partnerships that create more value for customers. Azlo is making integrations with fintech partners a priority, and will be enabling its customers to interact with their accounts not only through mobile and web applications, but also through a set of user-accessible APIs.
With Square and Stripe already built into the platform, and other payments services, accounting platforms and marketplaces coming soon, Azlo is providing integrations and partnerships with all the tools that people use to get paid.
“The nature of what it means to be a ‘small business owner’ is changing as the technology that revolutionized consumer digital interactions with their money begins to catch up with the business tools ecosystem. It is not unusual for an entrepreneur today to be familiar with APIs, partner applications and a host of other scrappy ways to “growth hack” or kick-start a business. We believe that providing access to the core payments rails and account services that banks normally keep behind complicated treasury management walls will open the door to creative options for entrepreneurs to establish and grow their business. We’re especially excited about democratizing access to these services for a diverse set of founders in the new economy, where freelancing and side-hustling is becoming the norm, and banks have been slow to adapt” said Brian Hamilton, Azlo’s Founder & CEO.
Creating Greater Opportunity
Taking advantage of the market’s demographic shift is not only good business but leads measurable social and financial inclusion. Women and communities of color, the largest growing market of entrepreneurs, have long been overlooked and underserved in financial services. Technology is creating greater access to payment acceptance, lending and business management tools, but the core account and access to the real backbone of financial services is often still curiously difficult to get to behind a wall of confusing bank treasury management services and other fee-based products. Helping marginalized communities navigate this maze is an amazing opportunity to have a real impact on society and economic equality. Azlo’s head of Marketing notes content marketing in financial services is extremely important within these demographics to help them understand the value of access to the core financial infrastructure on which commerce is really built. “The new generation, including millennials, want to be engaged , not sold to. If we want to be a financial brand that is trusted it is very important that we reflect the values of our customers. We believe that being a differentiator in financial services in not just about your product but also what you stand for. Providing greater access to economic opportunity for a more diverse entrepreneurial community is really what we are passionate about at Azlo.”
About the Author: Brian is Founder & CEO at Azlo, a disruptive new digital banking service for freelancers and underserved entrepreneurial communities. A serial entrepreneur, Brian has over 15 years of experience in product development, business management and innovation in Payments & FinTech. Brian was co-founder at Pushpoint, a location-based ad redemption platform successfully acquired by Capital One, where he served as President of Capital One Merchant Services and SVP for National Digital SMB banking. Brian also founded Isomer Labs, a technology incubator in San Francisco which, developed the Chargesmart Mobile payments platform later acquired by Verifone. Prior to his start-up experience Brian led Product & Strategy for Clear2Pay, the global payments technology provider based in Brussels, Belgium, and began his career at Wells Fargo as a Commercial Loan Officer, later leading new product development for the WF Foreign Exchange group.