Anthony Hynes is the serial entrepreneur behind travel tech company, eNett, but the payments firm wasn’t an instant success when he started the business eight years ago. Now eNett is a global growth company, turning over $150 million and a 68 per cent five-year CAGR, all while transforming payments for travel companies through its partnership with Mastercard. Here’s how he grew eNett over the years.
What does your business do?
We provide fast, easy and safe B2B payment solutions to travel companies all around the world. Our secure Virtual Account Numbers (VANs) allow travel agencies of all sizes to generate a unique MasterCard number and pay suppliers from within their booking flow. Not only is this faster than manual payment processes, but it’s cheaper, helps to reduce fraud and delivers a better customer experience.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
A hotel chain asked me to help solve the hours they spent on manually processing and reconciling payments. That’s when I had my Eureka moment for Virtual Account Numbers (VANs). It was two years before the concept became reality, and required a lot of input from a lot of people, but I never doubted it, and I was able to project that unshakeable confidence to others.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I was shocked at how old-fashioned the processes were in the hotel. I looked at the broader travel industry and saw that B2B payments were very complex – different types of suppliers require differing payment methods through multiple, unconnected systems. I saw the potential of an innovative new payment method to simplify and automate the process.
How did you raise funding, and why?
I got a chance to pitch to the MD of Travelport for investment who had travelled from London to Melbourne. But he had to cancel the meeting to catch a plane. They’re called ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities for a reason – so I pushed hard and he agreed to meet in the back of his taxi! We signed a joint venture a few months later.
Describe your business model in brief.
Customer experience has always been at the heart of eNett’s value proposition and business model. Providing a great experience for our employees creates a motivated workforce focused on delivering an exceptional service. Our customers feel valued and supported, and we see consistent year-on-year growth.
Your lowest point was…
Q3 2007, when we saw the first signs of the GFC. I arrived into Singapore to attend a contract signing ceremony with two significant Asian banks. As I walked into the room, they apologised to me as they tore up contracts. Having to then go to Europe to do the same thing with customers was heart wrenching for all involved. It did however, build enormous resolve in our conviction and is now firmly in long distant memories.
Your highest point was…
Every new day! We now have 240 plus people in our team, servicing 800+ customers in 50+ countries and continue to grow from strength to strength in delivering awesome payment solutions the benefit our customers, their customers and us.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
If you don’t have 100 per cent% belief in your offering, don’t bother. It’s that belief that’s going to give you the energy and tenacity to make it into reality. And when comes to funding, don’t be intimidated by a job title or a company name – think big and aim high! Don’t be afraid to knock on the door of the CEO. Once you’re up and running, standing still is the same as going backwards! You need to look at where the trends are heading five years or ten years down the line and start planning for that now.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Somewhere on earth, rather than in it! Preferably spending time with my wife and kids and #teamenett
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…
A philanthropist. Life has been very kind to me and is often very unkind to the majority. In many different, and even very small ways, we can all repay #repaytheenettway
If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
Not a single thing! I made every decision with the best knowledge I had available to me at the time, including input from an amazing team, shareholders, Board and customers. You can’t change anything that’s happened anyway, so learn, but make sure you live!
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
Be courageous and kind, in both!