Twenty-five years ago, my wife and I bought a house with a tranquil turtle pond. Over time, we added to that pond. We collected a vast variety of turtles of different sizes, types, and species. We loved sitting at the water’s edge sipping our wine, watching the turtles swim carefree. Little did we know, nor did the turtles know, of the dangers that were lurking around. The tranquility was shattered late at night when invaders, namely raccoons, would enter the yard and wreak havoc. We would wake in the morning to find one or two turtles had been caught and chewed by these varmints and they would disappear by morning. Most of the turtles survived the attack and would still be alive, but many were injured.
Taking them to the vet, we found there was nothing we could do to save these poor suffering friends. The vet suggested, the humane thing to do, would be to place the little guys in our freezer, where they would slowly fall asleep pain-free and eventually expire.
So why would I tell this sad little story in a business column? Well, business and our experience with the turtles have similarities. There are attacks on businesses every day which we recognize and fight against. It’s that stealth, rouge raccoon who strolls into our market with an attack one might not see coming that slowly erodes one’s business.It’s the outside attacks one can fight off. The ones not seen coming until it’s too late are ones to worry about; that slow freeze that puts you to sleep until it’s too late and you’re gone.
It’s that slow freeze that’s eroding the accounts receivables financing industry. It first started with the Fortune 500 when Citibank, Wells Fargo, Chase, US Bank, and other national and regional banks created programs that allowed major industrial corporations the ability to offer early pay to their vendors. Slowly invoices from the world’s largest companies just weren’t around anymore. One by one vendor’s chose to take a small discount to get paid early rather than offering them to a bank or commercial finance company for liquidity. Raising capital from an asset-based loan could be labor intensive and intrusive. Small banks and commercial finance companies have slowly seen the quality of accounts receivables offered up by customers drop. It’s been a “slow freeze” and it has so far been painless. However, adoption starts out slow, then picks up steam.
Now with a full head of steam, the march to full AP automation and vendor early pay is ready to transform another industry and mow down anyone and anything in its way. Now with 20 years of experience in AP automation, companies and major banks are starting to make their move into the mid-market. This move is helped by Accounts Payable automation companies that have brought all payables online and labor free. AP automation software and portals, AI (artificial intelligence), and national banks armed with low cost of funds and billions in capital, are a triple threat to the status quo. Recently, the Fortune1000, has started to team with new upstarts like Taulia, Avid Exchange, and PrimeRevenue to bring “early pay” to the mid-market taking even more AR available to finance off the market.
Now if you are in business, at some point you will have to decide if you are going to try and outlast the cold, or find a better, more hospitable climate. That is the innovator’s dilemma. Do I move from what’s warm and comfortable, or do I upturn the organization to survive the coming future? History is full of the non-believers who didn’t recognize the threat and those that survived have changed their business model to fight another day.
For example, AT&T, once a simple local and long-distance phone company, is now an integrated cellular, entertainment and content company.Billy Durant, the owner of a successful horse-drawn carriage business, realized after seeing his first car, that in order to survive he needed to cannibalize his carriage sales to build cars. Thus, he created General Motors.
Change is exactly what AeroFund Financial did in the fall of 2016 when it established AeroPay Express. AeroFund, located in Silicon Valley, had a front row seat to watch the innovations, change, and disruption happening in every industry. AeroFund watched as an army of young entrepreneurs, armed with hundreds of millions in VC funding were disrupting the accounts receivable industry through AP automation, infused with early pay options for buyers and sellers. Not wanting to be frozen out of a market, it helped create. AeroFund launched AeroPay Express offering its own “early pay” to buyers with revenues ranging from $25 million to one billion dollars. In its three short years, AeroFund/AeroPay Express has emerged as a market leader in the “early pay” industry.