Sebastian Builes, Co Founder & CEO of Arcum…The making of an award winning Fintech startup.

In a world where innovation reigns supreme and dreams are transformed into reality, there exists Arcum. A testament to resilience, vision, and unwavering determination.

At the helm of this company stands Sebastian Builes, Co-Founder and CEO. In this episode, part of our Founders series, we delve deep into the heart of Arcum, a fintech startup that champions the cause of reducing merchant churn for payments companies.

Launched in 2018 along with Co-Founder Tad Zhang, fast forward to the present, and Arcum stands tall as the “darling” fintech startup in its vertical. Its journey, a continuum, culminated in being honored among Georgia’s Top 40 Innovative Companies of 2024 by the Technology Association of Georgia.

Join us as we unravel the narrative of Sebastian Builes. Prepare to be inspired, enlightened, and empowered as we unveil the wisdom gleaned from his journey.



Miscellaneous notes:

A book mentioned: The FountainHead by Ayn Rand


You're listening to Bridges to Excellence. Inspired leadership in payments and FinTech. Networking is how do you find your first clients? How do you find your first investors? How do you find your first partners, and for that as a founder, you need to be having conversations, Going to different trade shows. I always kind of jokingly say that, I was going to trade shows when this was just an idea, And my networking for me was talking to people like you, Desmond, and saying, Hey, Desmond, you're a First Data, right? how big of a problem is attrition in your line of business? And whether you're an agent, whether you're an ISO, whether you're full blown processor, I was pretty shameless to ensure that I would ask the right questions to determine if this was a product or company worth building, Mhm. That was Sebastian Builes, co founder and CEO of Arcum. Arcum has become a rising star amongst Atlanta's based fintech startups. In this episode, Sebastian delves into what it takes in birthing and nurturing an award winning startup. Join us on The inside. Welcome to Bridges to Excellence podcast, inspired leadership in payments and fintech, bringing you conversations with payments, most fascinating people on top of their game, leaders, influencers, experts, and innovators. Each weekly episode turns our guests wisdom into practical advice. Their personal journey starts now. are meant to inspire and challenge you to explore your possibilities. Here is your host, Desmond Nicholson. In this episode, part of our Founders Series, our special guest is Sebastian Builes, Co Founder and CEO at Arcum. Arcum a fintech company, at its core, helps payments companies reduce merchant churn. Sebastian, with an academic background in economics and political science, launched Arcum in 2018, along with Co Founder Tad Zhang. Since then has become the darling FinTech startup in its vertical to the extent where Arcum was recently honored among Georgia's 2024 Top 40 Innovative Companies by the Technology Association of Georgia to learn more about the leader behind this amazing company, along with some actionable takeaways. Then come along on this journey with us. Enjoy the episode. Mhm. Sebastian. Welcome to the Bridges to Excellence podcast. Thank you for having me Desmond. it's great having you on the show. and, excited to be able to share a little bit about our journey and how we got here all together. Well done. Now let's get into it. Can you give us an introduction overview of Arcum, your functional role and who you serve as customers? Then We'll circle back and dive into the specifics of your journey and the building of Arcum. Absolutely. So Arcum a payments platform that helps essentially acquirers, identify who's going to leave in their portfolio, who are they going to leave, and providing steps. Towards taking actions to ensure that those merchants don't go anywhere. So essentially at its core is a merchant retention tool. And we have added other functionalities that allow, I think of it as a, BI functionalities that allow our clients to get a good sense of how their portfolio is trending. If I look in a very specific KPIs throughout that book in terms of who do we serve primarily merchant acquirers. So merchant acquirers, anyone that could be an ISO payments, payments facilitator, ISVs that are embedding payments into their core offering. So essentially everyone within that vertical, is kind of a potential client of ours. Good. Now, let's get into your backstory. Take us to your earlier life, where you grew up, what your life was like growing up, and where did you go to school? Oh, man, you want to take this back, give a little sense. I was born in Miami, raised in Miami, but I did live, by the time I was one, I moved back to Columbia. My mother and siblings, I spent there the majority of my early life before going back to Miami. went through school out there and then ended up at Florida State University, where I did both my undergrad and grad school. And I think you mentioned earlier, economics and then later on a master's in applied economics. how and when did you get into payments? What was the path? The path. so I got a job out of grad school basically helping publication companies reduce subscriber churn. So my job out of grad school essentially work with top publications like New York Times, McClatchy Corporation, and the job role was very straightforward, Build these essentially churn models or retention models to identify what subscribers were likely to leave. The publications that we're working with, and does it for about a year? And shortly after I ended up working for EVO Payments and prior to going to work for EVO, I knew very little about the payments industry. In fact, I always joke about this and say, as I was doing my research on EVO, I couldn't really figure out what they did. it seemed a little bit of, a multi level marketing scheme. but I just couldn't put my finger on it. but obviously after, interviewing and meeting the leadership team, I got the sense that this was, an industry that really touched upon every facet of the economy that I was very unaware of, prior to walking into that, office. It's now 2018, Arcum is launched. How was the idea conceived leading to adopting attrition mitigation as a viable business model for the payments fintech industry? walk us through that light bulb moment. Absolutely. that's actually, one of my favorite stories to tell because, I clearly after grad school, one of my main jobs was, essentially building these. Predictive churn models in the publication space. And then when I go into payments, my job was as part of the FP and a team was to provide portfolio analytics insights. That was one thing, right? and during that job, one of my specific, reporting, tasks that I had to do was, compile a list of our top 500 merchants that have left the EVO portfolio. at the time there was very little. there wasn't really much being done as opposed to, just compiling this list of 500 top merchants that left across the different portfolios. So, at one point I decided to, pitch Jim Kelly and the idea that, Hey, we can probably build some, churn models to try to get ahead. Of this attrition right by identifying who's going to leave we can actually intercycle or take action before that account or merchant has decided to turn So the idea wasn't I have to admit it wasn't purely designed or created by me I had been exposed to this concept in my previous employer but it was the ability to transactional data that we had access to right and apply it to a whole new concept or whole new industry, which was payments. and being the fact that I was one of the four financial analysts and the team, I had the ability to see some real time data across the portfolio of call that a million plus merchants, worldwide. I was very blessed to have a pretty decent lab. to test this concept and really see if the applications went beyond publication and into the payments realm. Great. tell us about some of the major hurdles you encountered in getting Arcum off the ground and how you feel it's strengthened Arcum as a company. Wow. The hurdles I can, we can spend the whole day talking about that. ground founder, first time founder. It was every mistake you can think of and every challenge, pretty much had to be overcome. Right? So starting with the fact that, For the most part, I never really started a business, that was a big challenge. the second piece or component of it was, having this new idea of leveraging data essentially would require and acquire run ISO or payments processor to send us over some data, At the very beginning, what this was just an idea of, we don't have a case study, we don't have a proof of concept. we don't really have a roster of clients that we can go and showcase, to have someone trust us with that transactional or portfolio data, to actually build one of these models. so I would say the first obstacles we encountered was really just having access to a portfolio that we can actually test this, concept outside of my time at EVO Payments, although I've been around or doing some type of or started Arcum back in 2018. It really wasn't until I would say late 21 that we're actually able to get a data set to be able to test this out. so from there it was, off to the races. Okay. So, why did you choose Atlanta to set up business? and I might add how would you assess Atlanta's ecosystem for FinTech founders, startups, pros and cons in terms of say, environmental friendliness, talent pool, educational institution, government, state, economic development incentives. Private funding resources. Community support groups, in short, why Atlanta and not elsewhere? Is Atlanta truly a Mecca for FinTech startups as it's touted to be? Or is there more hype than substance? I don't want to make any enemies given that I chose to live in Atlanta, but I'll tell you this, in a way kind of Atlanta chose us same as payments. kind of you always joke around the fact that payment sort of chooses you in one way or another and it was no different for the way why we chose Atlanta, right? for me, I came out of grad school, started working here, then worked, went to work for EVO payments. And, when I was thinking about launching what Arcum is today, For the most part, I was very encouraged by the fact that some of the largest payments companies were here in Atlanta, Obviously I came out of EVO, but if you look across the street, Global Payments was there, go down the road and 400 and you'll find yourself a First Data of building, which is now the Deluxe building, Ella bond party payment systems, NCR down in midtown, So all. The major players, whether you're talking about big full blown processor or a, independent sales organization or an ISO, right? They could all be found here. So when it came time to deciding whether we stayed here to build, my Co Founder was based out of here. I was based out of here. so it really wasn't like we looked around for any other options, Given that people would often tout as Atlanta being transaction alley. And we decided, well, we're going to be building a Payments or a product that serves payments companies. we're better off doing it here, in terms of how friendly it is, obviously, you mentioned some of the good things about atlanta talent pool, right? We have a team of 11 today Everyone is based out of Atlanta We have Georgia Tech. We have Emory. We have G. S. U. We have, U. G. A. So a heavy concentration of universities literally around their office, In terms of ecosystems that we can partake. we're building our office today is in the Atlanta Tech Village. Very famous for some. Huge unicorns to have come out of here including Sales Loft and Calendly, So we're amongst good company, in terms of some cons and i've openly always thought about this, Although we do have all the ingredients necessary to build a great business here in Altanta, One of those key components especially when considering building a huge enterprise is capital or access to capital, so I would say maybe access to capital here is not as mature as other places like New York California and so forth, But I think that you do have pockets or individuals that do come from the industry and have a tendency to write checks around here so we can maybe circumvent some of those early challenges, But from a community perspective, I do host a monthly founders meetup out here I try to get together 50 to 60 founders once a month at the very least to drink, have some food, And really discuss closely in terms of some of our challenges that we may be facing, to learn from one another. So, you're supported? yes. we are, obviously, we're also an, I forgot to mention, ATDC company. So ATDC is one of the oldest accelerators in the country, which is part of the Georgia Tech, Institute down here in Midtown. So, from the standpoint that we see it, we couldn't think of any better place to be building our business than here in Atlanta. Well done. what is the mission of Arcum, and why is Arcum an asset to the payments fintech space? Great question, Desmond, you have plenty of experience working with the likes of First Data out there in the world, right? And one of the challenges, that you experience, whether you're a big blown, big processor like First Data or Evo Payments, for that matter, all the way to, uh, Joe Schmoe's ISO from around the corner, is as that portfolio continues to grow, There is a big challenge in terms of how do you engage with that customer base in a way feels like you're providing a white glove service approach, Which is currently not being done, Everybody knows who their top 100 top 500 merchants are But when it comes to that, who's the rest or that 80 to 90 percent of the portfolio, it's very challenging to have some visibility into there, so our solution, it's in essence is an engagement tool, to leverage data, leverage AI. Pinpoint those accounts that may be unhappy or dissatisfied with the current offering from their providers and point that out to our end users or clients, So they can engage those customers or merchants to ensure that they're having a good experience. And if they're having a bad experience, they can actually intervene to ensure that those bad experiences can be alleviated through new products, new services, and so forth. Okay. when you have a very competitive market, people figure out innovative ways to differentiate. What in your product suite offer that kind of value differentiation that benefits your customer? I would say industry knowledge, right? So although we do compete with other customer success tools out there, uh, TrendZero, Plain hat just to name a few, We are the only ones who focus in the financial services space specifically payments, so payments is very complex, right in terms of hierarchies you have bank sponsored payments processor You have a super ISO sub ISO agent merchant, and the intricacies within those hierarchies, can make it extremely difficult, to build viable models that actually help predict and identify accounts that may be likely to churn, so it is that industry focus and expertise that we rely on. to build a differentiated product, Our software is just a way to deliver those insights, And everything within our software is custom tailored, to meet the demands of a payments user or a payments company for that matter. Okay. Let's talk about one of your customers. You could select any customers you you want in your portfolio on the Arcum platform. And let's focus on use case scenario and talk about the before and after. Absolutely. So we're seeing, upwards of 1 percent increase. In revenue in six months and just to give you an idea of what that represents, right? Because you can sometimes get lost in the figures How do we get to 1 percent increase or a revenue lift in six months and a lot of that is really? recapturing or retaining some of that lost revenue that would be attributed to attrition, So a specific use case will be, for example, one of our users logs in and sees that one of the largest merchants say processing north of $100, 000, it's about to be, or has been identified at risk of churning for product reasons, right? Just say product reasons, and there we're meaning specifically the terminal or point of sale, At which point once our client or end user knows that merchant is likely to churn for terminal or product reasons They'll reach out to that account right in this case. Maybe desmond's pizza shop and say hey desmond This is Sebastian with Arcum Payments calling to check in on you, see how you're doing. My user already knows that you're going to be leaving in the next 12 months, that you're experiencing product issues, But we're coming into this conversation along the lines of, this is a courtesy outreach to see how you're doing. At which point the merchant would usually say, yes, I'm actually experiencing issues, specifically with my terminal having difficulties. Maybe charging or maybe having difficulties with, firing it up in the morning as I get there. So instead of arriving at 7:30 as the time I should be, I'm actually getting there at six 30 to ensure that the POS works properly before actually opening the doors to the store. And that's just one facet, as is product related. Sometimes most often we see a lot of funding issues. that emerged that perhaps the merchant is growing really fast and at the beginning when risk and underwriting decided to set their risk parameters, they put an average ticket hold in there that anything beyond would get funds withheld from the merchants, Perhaps the merchant sent over three months of banking statements, but risk and underwriting can be a little detached sometimes from the customer success team, So we see often that we flag an account likely to leave maybe same reasons maybe product reasons for example and as our end user calls that merchant they learn that they've been having funds being withheld for them for several months at a time So although that merchant acted, sent over their statements to the ISO or acquire, end user will call that merchant, realize that those funds are still being withheld, go ahead and release those funds, And also update risk and underwriting to ensure that no funds will be withheld for that merchant again, simply because that account is growing relatively fast, So those are just a couple of facets in terms of one of the couple of use cases that we have seen internally. where our product has done really well to help or stem some attrition, that would be, a result of not solving some of these issues in a proactive manner. Wow. I didn't know you go that deep. We go pretty deep. We go pretty deep. And again, a lot of the insights that we're able to derive right. they all stem from the access to the information that we can see, which is transactional data. I always talk about how much we can learn about a business or a merchant based on that historical transactional information. Right. And, we can even pinpoint, other assets or other facets like service, pricing issues, That may be stemming, in, it's all stems from that. Processing data that we obtained from our clients. Okay. if you can share, and I don't know if you can, how many rounds of funding has Arcum received to date? we only done one round of funding, say friends and family round, a little bit less than a quarter million dollars at this point, alter angels, payments angels, local Atlanta angels, non institutional investors at the moment. Okay, good. Thanks. what was a low point in your entrepreneurial journey? What was that like? in retrospect, what would you have done differently? Oh God, there's, this journey is filled with low points. I'd say, I would say the lowest points are usually when the personal and the business sort of mix, give me an idea. I lost my mom last summer. and that was one of the hardest, most difficult moments or periods of my life, At which point I had to really decide, Do we keep this going or do I just throw in the towel and focus on something that requires maybe a little bit less of my blood and sweat, decide to opt for the latter, and really double down in the business. At that point, we had probably about four other team members. And during that time, all we did was, heads down, focused on the principles and really went into scaling the team to ensure that we had all the core members, needed to scale the business properly in 2024, which is what we did took the team from. roughly four, team members to about 11 where we are today. and a lot of that stem from that very low period of time where, had a lot of soul searching. Why am I doing this? should I be doing something else? The opportunity cost of obviously starting a business is extremely high and there's absolutely no guarantees that you will make it to the other end. but for me, it was more of call it a promise to my mom or to myself that I have to see this through. And I started some years ago with the hope of changing this, industry. And just because, we got to call it a significant curve ball thrown my way. Uh, are we not letting this necessarily stop us from our mission? And our mission is still the same, How do we help these payments and acquirers really connect deeply with their merchants, To provide a better experience, and a better service. as it comes to something as, intimate as processing someone else's payments. Well, Sebastian, sorry for the loss of your mom. It happens, and as an entrepreneur, you really have to see these tough moments as. sort of building blocks, I mean, when it boils down to why we do the things that we do, There is a thousand other paths that could be easier, are easier, And we choose the hard route for whatever reason, and I think it's using moments like that as, either fuel to add to the fire and continue going when the going gets hard. Good. To switch gears somewhat, what are your thoughts on mentorship and what role mentoring played in your career? Does any one person come to mind? I have a whole slew of rosters of people that I respect and admire that, have given me their two cents and obviously put us in a position to be where we are today. I'll start with my, very initial one. I don't, I'm not even sure that he's aware, but no old CEO of EVO Payments, Jim Kelly, he, at the very beginning, I pitched this idea. I was a financial analyst, And all I said was, hey, I think that we can get ahead of this churn problem by identifying accounts likely to leave 12 months or months before they actually leave. And he very simply said, listen, my 40 years in the industry, I've never heard of anything like this. but if you can go ahead and actually build this, I would say, go ahead and do it. Get out of here start knocking on doors because you're in Atlanta and every single shop in here that process Transactions for any given merchant is also experiencing the same problem, So from the very beginning I always had the you know blessed enough to have a whole loo of rosters of individuals that I can talk to and really get ideas across to really see if, what is the path forward, and many times we've been lucky to even include some of those early advisors or mentors into our team. I'll give you an example. Kevin Lewis, he's our new CPO or chief product officer. Initially started advising us and really, reviewing our MVP when it did very little or was very, Started in the early stages where I like to call it a glorified Excel sheet online, As a product progressed and evolved, obviously we interact with more and more mentors and Kevin being one of them ended up coming in as our one of our team members, So always been lucky enough to have, older or individuals that have been there, have been in the space for a lot longer, Really helping us, not only understand sort of where the puck is going, But really, using that information to derive new products and services that we could cater or use for, to bring value to our customers. Good. starting out as an entrepreneur can be a lonely and numbing existence. You need positive and like minded community of people around you. And Sebastian, I know you're a strong advocate of networking. How important a role networking played in your personal development and in the growth of Arcum? I'd say it's everything, I mean networking is how do you find your first clients? How do you find your first investors? How do you find your first partners, and for that as a founder, you need to be having conversations, Going to different trade shows. I always kind of jokingly say that, I was going to trade shows when this was just an idea, And my networking for me was talking to people like you, Desmond, and saying, Hey, Desmond, you're a First Data, right? how big of a problem is attrition in your line of business? And whether you're an agent, whether you're an ISO, whether you're full blown processor, I was pretty shameless to ensure that I would ask the right questions to determine if this was a product or company worth building, so before we wrote a single line of code, I was tout that I must have spoken to thousands of individuals through these, trade shows to really pinpoint not only a, how much of a problem is attrition in your day to day business, But also what would the ideal solution look like? in order to actually solve this problem, Because you can imagine, attrition has been around the industry for, God, since the first merchant was on board, right? Absolutely. And it really hasn't changed. Although we've seen solutions that tout that, hey, we can help you reduce attrition or increase retention, there really hasn't been anything that has been productized and allows to, The acquire is to essentially get ahead of those accounts that, if nothing is done, we'll end up churning down in the future. so I say that we have, I'm not going to say crack the code, Because I would say it's a very complex problem. but we have surely done our part in helping our clients, mitigate some of the losses that would stem from attrition as a result of being able to get ahead of the problem before it's too late. Now, and, still on the topic of networking, what advice or encouragement would you give to new FinTech startup founders? Get out there, be vulnerable, be authentic, be yourself, I think that people can see through whenever you're sort of pop this facade, right? Or call it a mask. and sometimes to build deep relationships with people, you gotta be vulnerable, And I would say that's probably one of my key takeaways, whenever I go to any one of these. trade shows or networking events is just be myself. And people can see through that, And that sometimes may bring some people that don't like you, others that would love you, And you have to be yourself in order to find that tribe and group of people, That see the world, whether it's through your lenses or very similar lenses, right? That you can actually Go ahead and build long lasting relationships with so get out there over the years, CEOs and business leaders have shared their thoughts on the phrase work life balance. What does that mean to you and how would you phrase it differently? work life balance, entrepreneur. Yeah. I don't know if there's any, if there's a separation between work and life, um, but I'll say this, I do have a very strict regimen in the mornings, Mornings are for me wake up about five a. m. to go into the gym, workout, hit the steam room, meditate, stretch, do my thing, and for that whole morning, call it 5 a. m. to 8 a. m. It's my time, I could have emails coming in, phone calls coming in, But it's very rare that something is going to happen in the business that needs my attention right then and there, So for me, work life is really, ensuring that the mornings I set myself up to success, no matter how hard might be. And give you a prime wintertime, I picked up c for me it was getting 30 40 degree cold there for three minutes a the hard stuff at the beg To no matter what the day brought later on, Be able to overcome that. Now that we manage a team of, call it 11 folks, it's very important that you are at your best, even when you're having a terrible day. follow that with, I also have a fiance that I have to spend some time with, And I ensure that when I get home. that first hour when I get back from the office, call it, 6 to 7 p. m. It's spending with her and being present, And once seven o'clock comes around, it's get back to the business, So it's never really stops. sort of circumventing or the thought of the business never leaves your mind, But it's really the ability to compartmentalize during these moments that you know are important, for the long term, success of your business. The business as well as your own sanity, That's Discipline extraordinaire. My hat's off to you. Thank you. let's address the elephant in the room. AI machine learning. AI is the hottest areas of innovation right now. Lay out for us from your perspective, the realm of possibilities. Where do you see opportunities, problems to solve within your vertical and perhaps beyond by leveraging AI? All right. Um, obviously payments and A. I have been touting a dance for the last call it 10 years, Specifically what the on the fraud side, If you think about it, most fraud companies out there have built M. L. Models right to combat fraudulent transactions as they're coming in, and that has been sort of the main use case we have seen within payments, and the use of A. I. I think once we came in, there was a, obviously we opened the door to another use case, and that is customer engagement. and merchant and how to mitigate merchant attrition in a space where attrition rates can go north of 25, 30 percent many times, As we look forward to the future of what is possible, it's a lot of it. It's on the engagement side that we're looking at, Where imagine a customer success manager, retention manager. Or for that matter, an account executive, Can go in there, see their portfolio. Who are their fastest growing accounts? Who has doubled volume year over year, Or who has been crushing in the last three months and been able with just one click, send out an email congratulating that merchant, letting them know that, Hey, we're here for you in this exciting times of growth, Something that it took an individual before time to see who that account, who their fastest growing merchants might be, what message do they have to send out to that account, and what is the tone to be able to engage with that merchant, It can all be done simultaneously in a very short amount of time, So I'd say from, we're in an industry where, we're dealing with merchants and many times thousands of merchants. It becomes very difficult. Difficult, To provide that white glove approach to everyone in the portfolio. So what tends to happen is what happens in most industries, We focused on the top 10 percent of accounts that are making us the bulk of the revenue, And everyone else gets this base level of engagement that it's very subpar to what it should be, so I think as we look forward into the future, this ability to really engage with merchants, in our industry specifically, it's going to increase or be 10 times easier than it currently is, Which I would say set that standard for service, that it's currently not there, right? If you talk to merchants, what is one of the biggest challenges that they have to deal with? Whether they're talking to a First Data or an ISO, it's that level of service that sometimes get lost because as the portfolio grows over time, It's very difficult to dedicate that extra one on one or white glove. Approach, to servicing clients, So I hope that, um, ourselves have a hand, a landing hand when it comes to improving this baseline level of service that we see across the industry, because that really does determine whether an account is going to be satisfied with their service provider or not, Now, what do you see as the greatest challenge facing payment fintech space right now? Hmm, there's a whole slew of things that I can comment here, but I'd say competition from outsiders Specifically individuals that are approaching the problem where they call it not a payments lens, but rather a tech lens, So if you look at Square, this was started by Dorsey who? for the most part had very little to none payments experience, Identified a problem, decided to build a solution and essentially, created or enabled a whole lot of merchants that weren't participating or weren't accepting credit cards, To be able to accept payments relatively easy, They changed the way risk and underwriting was done for that set of accounts, And I'd say that Toast has just done the same for the restaurant space, So I think the biggest challenge for the payments industry is if you think about it, it's been ran or has been operated, by large legacy players, For the most part. and a lot of the independent sales organizations that operate with it have this sort of sales DNA, embedded as part of their organizations, So I would say one of the challenges will be how do you marry, some of tech, some Of this sales DNA and payments knowledge with more technology, to build a better Offering that serves the merchants better at the end of the day, what I like to think about sometimes is imagine all the merchants that could benefit From proactive engagement from their acquirers, right? If you're growing really fast and you need access to working capital, And a lot of this is why you have to go outside of your way to prevail, to prepare some balance sheet income statements, to go talk to your bank, This is something that A function that your payments processor can see your transactional history and determine how much you're growing and see that, Hey, Desmond, you're growing by double digits. Here's some work in capital. Verity really cheap, and it's just one click to upset without having to go through your regular financial institution, which is always been, the way something like this would go about. so I'd say. Proactive engagement can mean a lot of things, and here specifically, it's solving merchant issues before it's too late and getting ahead of that, by leveraging technology, Got you. What are some of Arcum's growth initiatives for the year 2024? this is the year that we're looking to get into market and really start expanding our footprint in the industry. I would say for the last couple of years, there was a lot of R and D. first R and D about how do we build these churn models? Second piece was how do we build a software solution? where our clients can leverage some of these predictive analytics models, 24, it's really all about expansion and getting more and more into different facets of the industry. So right now we mainly work with isos. we want 24. It's all about expanding that to, ensure that we're working with, ISP providers, payments facilitator. And other individuals that play within the ecosystem, but it may not necessarily be ISOs for that matter. what are you most excited about Arcum's future? Desmond, we just got, like I said, we brought in some rock stars in the last couple of months as part of our team, for the vast majority amount of time, we've been operating my myself, my co founder, a couple of engineers, this was the time, a couple of months, the first time that we really have focused a lot of team, in really just learning and seeing all the different, heuristics or perspectives that these individuals are bringing, and how their insights or their perspectives almost changed the vision. Of what we believe Arcum should be and a lot of that stems from, some individuals come from payments. Others don't come from payments, And it is in that diversity of thought that really has me excited about the possibilities of what we can do together, We started as a retention or An attrition mitigation solution right quickly expanded to more of a bi solution within the payment space. And now we're all about, how do we leverage our analytics to solve other problems within the vertical, And also for bringing additional value to our clients. looking back at the last 12 months, 2023, what are you most proud of? as I mentioned, 23 was probably the hardest, but both from a personal business, et cetera. I mentioned earlier that I had lost my mother during the summer and my co founder lost his grandmother shortly before. so from a personal perspective, it was probably one of the toughest years for the two of us. and really. If I was to sum up what that year entailed was in one word, that would be resilience, Tough moments will come, And you have to decide what do you do with those tough moments? Do you go curl up in a ball and say why me or use whatever call it? pain or suffering and use that to fuel you to new heights, And it requires an element of great in resilience in order to actually be able to do that. And I'd say that, from, from myself to my co founder, that's where we really dug deep and figured, why are we doing what we're doing, When there is a million other things that we could be doing with our time, why focused all this time and energy, building this, and the answer always came Forward to it has to be done, If we're not doing it, someone else will do it, hopefully, But this is an industry that for the most part you have to understand that merchants always categorize payments processing as one of those necessary evils that that they need in order to run a business, If we can change the paradigm on Payments processors being a necessary evil to hey, I got some great payments partnerships, I think that we have would have done a good job in changing how the perception of our industry seen in the lenses of the end user in this case being or the end client being that the merchant or business, right? Well done. We'll be right back. The lightning round bridges to excellence inspired leadership in payments and fintech. Okay, Sebastian. Quick questions, quick responses. The Lightning Round. What one word would you use to describe your career path, journey, so far? Resilience. I would say that would be the main keyword that highlights both my career as well as personal journey as I build Arcum. What is the one thing you attribute to your career success to the level it is today? Ah, the people I've surrounded myself with, whether it's mentors, friends, or advisors, been really lucky, to find myself with a tribe of individuals that not only believe in me, but also believe in the mission and what we're building here at Arcum. What one book would you recommend to our listeners, and why? Ayn Rand The Fountainhead, probably what I consider my Bible. I've probably read that book, two to three times as, times gets up And it's really the story about, people go against the current, When you're building a business or you're an entrepreneur, in many ways, you find yourself outside the city wall, And outside the city wall, things are hard and there is no rules, there's no laws, And you have to find a way to figure it out. And I think Ayn Rand does a really great job in the Found Head to give you an idea of what can that look like. You stick to your guns, Good success for you means. Success for me means being able to create an impact and whether it's in my industry, my life, the life of those around me, we all come here for a purpose. We don't know what that purpose is and it is up to us to find that purpose. And to me is make sure that, I can bring value to not only are my clients, but Customers, partners and so forth, but really bring something to life that wasn't previously there. that makes the lives of others 20 and 30 times easier than what it is today. What's the best advice you ever received? Don't give up. Stay with it. Yeah. Yeah. It's. It's hard, and as people always these cliches get thrown out there, Rome wasn't built in a day. And sometimes the founder, it's very difficult to see if, white breaks reached a 2 billion valuation in just, 18 months. You're like, crap, how, if I'm not getting or building at that speed, am I failing? And sometimes you have to learn that everyone's journey is different and be patient with your own journey and stick to your guns and. What has you fired up right now? What has me fired up? I'd say the opportunity for the future, this is, I think that for the most part we were pitching AI solutions in a time where nobody really cared about AI, All of a sudden, even my own grandmother is asking me about AI, So once it has reached that level, I'd say that the market has picked up. Or come, come at the intersection of where our industry is in the market, to be able to offer and have also be, individuals to be receptive about our message, And I think that's what has me the most exciting that out of all the years that we've been building Arcum, right? This is the first year that we feel some market pull and really a lot of interest to get to know a little bit more about us and our solution. And I think it's specifically just because of that wave of AI coming into every industry. Everyone is trying to figure out what is the use case, within their particular business, Mhm. Sebastian, it's been great having you on the show. Is there anything you want to add or we didn't mention that's important for you to talk about? no, just I'm very, Very open, always looking to connect with other individuals, whether it's building in payments or adjacent industries. so definitely feel free to connect at any point. LinkedIn, mostly active on, but other than that, always looking for a good payments conversation to have. Okay, so that's Sebastian. B-U-I-L-E-S. Les Buis. at Arcum dot ai again, Sebastian, thank you. Thank you, Desmond. It's been a pleasure. It, and to our listeners as always, thank you for your time. And never forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you excel. You've been listening to Bridges to Excellence podcast, inspired leadership and payments and fintech. Be sure to join us next time for more conversations with another of your colleagues in payments and fintech. Insightful conversations in their journey to excellence for transcripts and other materials covered on the show. Visit us at DesmondNicholson. com.

About the author, Desmond

Desmond Nicholson is the creator and host of the Bridges to Excellence podcast

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