18 Feb The rise and rise of eWAY: Matt Bullock’s story
Sometimes you get the pleasure of being privy to the inner workings of a truly successful and driven person. This February saw Matt Bullock take the floor at Innovation Bay in Sydney. If you’ve ever purchased anything in Australia, chances are Matt’s company eWAY has processed your credit card payment. One dollar in every four spent online in Australia is processed by his company.
Matt spoke about where he came from, where he is and where he’s heading
We’re introduced to Matt as a 16 year old Canberran. He’s at school writing code. He sells his code to mates who then on-sell it. He starts small. He then takes a consulting job – the last time he had a boss. He saved $50,000, left the government job, and became his own boss, launching his startup with that nest egg.
His first customer sold bicycle parts. His biggest customer paid for everything that was required in his business. It didn’t take long.
Matt’s ownership structure is simple: he owns it.
He’s never taken venture funding – and it’s been offered – but he’s never taken it, because he’s never needed it. Matt is open about his revenue model. The company takes a clip of each transaction, but it also has a capital arm; lending merchants money to complete ecommerce sites. So far they’ve lent $250K.
eWAY have grown fast, with 80 staff managed from their main office in Canberra with offices across Auckland, Edinburgh and Toronto. Their transactions were to the tune of $5.8bill last year. But there’s no time to stop, with each month’s numbers needing to be built upon in the following month. This has led Matt and the team to change processes, look at hiring more people. There’s a bigger opportunity for the company now than ever, with a huge proportion of Australian businesses not having an ecommerce functionality. His customer number is 24,000 and growing. The eWAY narrative is resonant of many fintech success stories, their agility as a business far eclipses the banks. It’s taking eWAY mere hours to do what it takes financial institutions weeks. eWAY align themselves with anyone who link the market and make it easier for someone to make a payment, so Visa, MasterCard, Amex and Paypal are all on eWAY’s Christmas Card list. Having said that, they’re also connected to 27 banks globally.
And they’ve never been broken. I’ll repeat that: eWAY has never been broken.
What sets Matt apart?
It’s a number of things. He doesn’t have a formal board, he’s his own Sole Director. If there’s a problem, everyone is involved in resolving it. He does have a coach though, who Matt says has “been a really important part of my life”. He’s found a coach that shares his dream and encourages him. When he first started with his coach Matt had 27 employees.
Matt started out coding, but his calling was elsewhere. As CEO he has a team with far more talent at writing code, but Matt’s background arms him with the knowledge to confidently call bullshit on development progress.
Day to day, Matt prefers to look at processes. Fixated with automating things, Matt tends to pick something that is broken and work hard to fix it.
After experimenting with other programs, Matt is entirely happy with Salesforce and attributes it to being able to provide the service that eWAY prides itself on. It’s the eyes and the ears for Matt and the team, knowing every single activity that the customer has taken. From there, the team can call the customer to expertly and explicitly engage with them in the right context. Salesforce synchronicity didn’t come easy: it took three goes for them to get it right. And now they’re hooked: literally. They have 72 TV screens in the office broadcasting all their data from Salesforce – big data. When a sale happens, it’s on the screen.
Right time, right place
eWAY has been fortunate to benefit from the right environment and climate. Their location in Canberra means that they’re a diamond in the rough, standing out amongst a litany of government and education job opportunities. They haven’t needed to lure people in with equity offerings.
Their attitude to recruitment and retention? They have built a culture and attracted executive and specialist talent to the business who are passionate about their mission. This has been their biggest draw, and as the business has grown they have been able to compete with market rates to hire top executives.
What Matt does have is bucket loads of vision, but he knows how to manage it. He focuses on one thing that he’ll build or fix for the year. We look forwarding to following the continued growth and successes of eWAY.
Kevin Griffiths leads MitchelLake Executive for the ANZ Practice. Based in Sydney, he is focused on supporting startups, NewCo’s, scale-ups, and established tech companies with C-suite and board requirements, in addition to working with Australian SME’s and enterprises undergoing digital/technology transformations.
Since joining MLE in 2012, Kevin has led over 100 searches. His time has been divided into three key areas – CEO searches for scale-ups or tech companies going through transformation; CTO/CPO searches for tech companies with a global requirement to bring talent to Australia with technology and/or product leadership at scale; and consulting to and leading searches with clients looking to innovate, who are seeking advice from the MLE practice on the question of build, buy, or partner.
Prior to joining MLE, Kevin was a Partner at BMS where he built and led the Midlands commercial practice in the UK, before moving to Australia to help scale the business in Sydney and Melbourne.