Ep. 525 w/ Jeremy Almond Founder & CEO PayStand

Ep. 525 w/ Jeremy Almond Founder & CEO PayStand

Transformational Business Payment Network for the 21st Century.

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Kevin Horek: Welcome back to the show today. We have Jeremy almond. He's the CEO at pace. Stan, Jeremy, welcome to the show.

Jeremy Almond: What's up Kevin man. It's great to be on the show and talk to you and the listeners.

Kevin Horek: Yeah, I'm excited to have you on the show. You have done a tremendous amount of stuff, but maybe before we dive into all that, let's get to know you better and start off with where you grew up.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah, man. We'll talk a lot about tech, I think, but I'm the most unlikely person I feel like to have gotten in tech. My background is my mother's side of the family originally came over from Mexico right before I was born. She married this blue collar construction worker. Who'd never been to college, never been to high school. I think my destiny was probably to go work in the fields to be honest, sometimes fate intervenes. I grew up kind of all over the place, but the place I spent the most time is this urban industrial town called Stockton is not a high tech center. It's in the middle of agriculture zone in California, ? Just by a stroke of luck, my life changed by getting involved in technology. Otherwise, I might be working in a factory or in a farm right now, not talking to you.

Kevin Horek: Okay. How did you get involved in tech? Let's talk about your education because you went to university and I'm curious to know what you took and why.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah, so I was, I think like, anybody who's got high ambitions, I was a bit of a troublemaker as a kid. A couple teachers took kindly on me and put me in these programs that kept me more busy. Back in the nineties, it was less common, but I learned to program, which, now that's common, but it wasn't so much then. I was very young when it happened. Because of that, I got involved in hacking and just a new world opened up for me. I got a scholarship to go to computer science program and really what changed my life was I was looking at the time, this was in the late nineties.com was kind of going crazy. And, and so I wanted to work in tech and I had some options. I was looking, going into the cow or Stanford and I was checking out a backup school of mine, which was the university of California, Santa Barbara to go study engineering.

Jeremy Almond: And it's an okay school. It's not Stanford, it's not Cal, but one thing it had different was it had this, a beach with a surf spot. If you grew up in the ghetto, a beach with a surf spot, sounds pretty cool. I try to talk my folks into going there versus, Stanford or something. And they were like, you're crazy. You're the first kid to go to college. You're going to, should go work in Silicon valley. What I did to combat that conversation was, I said, Hey, if I can get a job as an intern at a tech company and go work and surf and do all of these things, boy, wouldn't that be cool? I had kind of hustled my way into the startup down in Santa Barbara as a way to be able to go to this kind of beach college. And I worked full time after,

Kevin Horek: Sorry to cut you off, but how did you get that job?

Jeremy Almond: I basically cold call. There was in Santa Barbara at the time. It's still a small beach town. There's almost no tech. Now the good thing about that was because there was no tech and this was like yellow pages days. You could kind of figure out like the three or four like tech companies. I figured if I had a chance to go work at a tech company and go live at the beach, I was going to do it. I just basically cold called them, figured out who worked where, and just kind of hustled my way in and what I got when I got the interview, I said, look, I'm a 16 year old kid. I know next to nothing. I'm about to start engineering school, but here's the deal I will go and I will sweep your floors. I'll go work on wires. I'll do whatever it is that happens at these startups that nobody else wants to do.

Jeremy Almond: They took a chance on me and it was a pretty small startup at the time. My journey in the tech ends up being that while I went to engineering school for four years, at the same time, I worked full time at the startup and the startup grew phenomenally, ultimately got acquired. The acquiring company went public, still public on the NASDAQ today. It was a amazing experience to see, from ground floor to global world changing company, all while I was, 16 to 20 and also hustling at school, so incredible experience for me. So.

Kevin Horek: That's amazing. Okay. Walk us through getting out of school, getting your MBA and your career. Maybe just some highlights along the way, because like I said earlier, you've done a ton of stuff.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. I guess this is a somewhat into the origin story paste in which is my current gig, but so for the first 10 years after that startup, it basically spent in enterprise tech. So that startup was a hardware company. We built the equipment that ultimately helped invent the iPod and the iPhone and, made computers the size of, the Palm of your hand. What I realized was I spending a lot of time in enterprise. This enabling software enabling infrastructure that's unsexy, but becomes the core of our economy is very interesting to me anyways. I had done that for a fair bit of time and was really enjoying it. It took me out to New York. I got to see what a public companies look like. I got to consult for a bunch of big financial service companies and a big ERP systems and e-commerce systems. All of which was, blowing up in the early two thousands anyways, fast forward to 2008.

Jeremy Almond: I'm living out in New York at the time and I get this call that you never want to get. Life had been very good to me. Like I said, my world is shifted, but meanwhile, go back to my origin story, which is where, how my parents were founded. Any parents that are just good, hardworking salt of the earth, folks, they have two American dreams. One of them is, to see their kid go off, to do a little better than themselves and get education and all of these sorts of things. The second is to buy, a home. For my parents, that was a 20 year labor to buy an 800 square foot home. It was the culmination of their American dream. They worked super hard to get it. It was, one bedroom in a closet in the middle of, not a great area, but they just loved it.

Jeremy Almond: It was ownership and it was a chance for them to be upwardly mobile. Anyways, they live in it for a bunch of years until 2008. My parents basically have some tragedy in the family. One of the family members passes away, it causes. Yeah. It caused the, the Safety net problem, because people who live for a paycheck by paycheck, they don't have, long-term seats. The culmination of this was my family was like one of the many millions of Americans who ended up losing their home during the financial crisis to really fault of their own. For me, what happened was this I'd almost call it like holy anger. I remember walking down wall street at the time, cause I was there and there's this thing called occupy wall street, which were, a bunch of people were just frustrated at the system that, wall street got bailed out main street.

Jeremy Almond: Didn't, it's the tale that's too old to tell, which is, the haves and the have nots get treated unfairly. I just remember seeing that and thinking, my parents were affected a lot of people's lives were affected. I think at that time, we all felt like the financial ser system could be fundamentally better. I had this moment where I thought, boy, I could pick up one of these signs and throw rocks at the banks, which, a lot of people were doing at the time, or I could do, which I was so lucky for the last 10 years to do, which is in tech. We get to have this amazing privilege, which is to imagine the world not as it is, but as it could be, and then go to make that. Out of these kinds of riots that were going on in wall street, I decided, the best thing for me to do is I was at a point in my life where I could take of time off.

Jeremy Almond: I went back to grad school and I studied, complex financial systems and effectively my master's thesis was on why banks were too big to fail. What you see in there is this is just the systemic problem in how the financial system is set up in this very deeply unfair way. Out of that grad research become this larger thesis on, how can we create change in financial systems that ultimately create trains in our economy, in our society. Fast forward down the road, and that's partly what started pace down.

Kevin Horek: Okay. How did you come up with the idea then for pay stand? What is it today? I, I guess what made you ultimately decide that you need to be the one building this?

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. Yeah. I think when you start a company, building companies is very difficult. It's very rewarding, but it's very difficult. If you're going to do something really with impact, you got to want to work on it for a long time and I mean, decades. It's got to be this thing that meets where your professional skills and your personal passions lie. So you'll run through walls, right? And, and so if you think about it for me, that first 10 years of working in, what I'd call enterprise software backend enabling tech was formative. This experience to me was also formative. Out of that was a thesis that boy, that the 2008 financial crisis was actually a commercial banking crisis, not a consumer banking crisis, the backend banks that had failed. A lot of people were doing all this innovation, today and FinTech and consumer banking and consumer financial services, but very few are actually touching the backend stuff that the banks are made of.

Jeremy Almond: Where I felt I was uniquely called and enabled to do, was to go, how can we democratize? Ultimately decentralize the commercial side of the financial system, which is really what the foundation of our economy is. Out of that was born this notion of pay stand, which pay stands really goal is to change and transform B2B enterprise and commercial financial services to make them more fair and ultimately more and better for our economy. What we do today, our core business is we are a B2B payment network. You can simple way to think of us, as you can imagine, what Venmo does between consumers making, money movement, in the 21st century, delightful magic, easy and kind of rethink how money is done. Money is just software. We do the same for complicated commercial transactions between large companies, large enterprises, large systems where massive amounts of money move, but they move in these old school ways where power accumulates.

Jeremy Almond: What we do is basically unlocked that money becomes software. When we do, we create this radically new kind of business. We're best known today as the largest B2B blockchain enabled technology company in the world, that's kind of a new decentralized technology. That's changing our financial services work. We also radically change the business model of a payments problem with a lot of payments. Today is the business model of banks and payments in general are fee-based. Every time money moves and exchanges, hands, some bank, or some kind of financial system like visa and MasterCard, they have their hand in the cookie jar. They take some toll charge and this ends up being punitive to the companies and ultimately to society. What we do is we change that around and we say, instead of taking fees altogether, we're basically going to create a free network anybody can use.

Jeremy Almond: We're just going to create a business that basically creates great software that helps the companies get their money better, cheaper, faster, and more efficiently. That helps the business become more competitive, which is who the customer we serve, but it ultimately creates the financial system to be more open and fair, which is really what our mission is about.

Kevin Horek: Okay. So let's unpack that a bit. How do you monetize the platform on your end then?

Jeremy Almond: Yeah, so if you think the core thesis is money is now software, which is an interesting idea, how the software gets charged in the regular world. Most companies pay for it through something called SAS software as a service. What that does is it incentivizes companies basically to build better software, right? If I build better software, if I'm Salesforce or I'm Oracle, the businesses that I serve, the better the software and the more it helps their business, the more they're going to pay. In our case, we do the same thing. Instead of charging a fee and instead of being punitive to a company, success, what we do is just say, Hey, we charge a flat amount, which is just for us to create great software and the better software we create, the more value it creates for you as a company. That flat fee, allows the company to scale without charging them.

Jeremy Almond: The more they scale, the more they're basically going to get, punitively hit. What that ends up being for the customer is a bunch of bottom line savings because, today, if the customer was not using us and using standard, I don't know, visa or MasterCard or federal system, they might be spending millions and millions of dollars in fees just to collect their revenue. Instead what we do is we give them all that money back. For them, that means that they can reinvest that into, hiring more people, helping the company and we be successful, and we think that's actually great for the bottom line of the economy. We like to think we make companies more competitive and ultimately more successful by doing that this different business model.

Kevin Horek: Fascinating. Okay. What size of a company is ideal to use pay standards, I guess is probably a good place to start.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. Our core product is on what we call the receivable side, which is to help companies collect their money. The billing and collection and money movement process, those are generally midsize and enterprise companies. Think, at the low end you might be a hundred employees up to 10,000 employees. And, and the reason why is because the more money you're collecting, right, it becomes incumbent. If you can get your money faster, time is money. If you can kind of automate the process, which is one of the things we do, that means a company's more efficient. As a company scales, that becomes more important. Those fees really start stacking up. So, so visa and MasterCard generally charge 3% basically on all of their tolls on all their fees. Now, if you're just a small coffee shop and you're charging $5 for a coffee, which is kind of one of my great loves, that's 3% on the $5 is maybe a fair value exchange.

Jeremy Almond: It's 15 cents, right? 3% on a a hundred thousand dollar invoice with a company, an enterprise company you've worked with for a decade, that's doing hundreds of millions of dollars. That's a big problem. The problem just magnifies the larger the company gets. The short version is mid to large enterprise is our core business. We've also just re opened up a new product though, which I'm excited about, which is a, a new digital corporate spend card. This also runs on the blockchain. It gives crypto and Bitcoin rewards, which is a really cool concept we can talk about in a minute. What we're finding there is companies of all sizes are using that. So, so that's used from everything from fortune 500 companies to, companies with 10 employees.

Kevin Horek: Okay. Very cool. Dive into this new product, cause I'm curious to learn more about this as well.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. One of things we noticed is even though our core business was on the receiving side, how did you, how do you innovate on, expenses and bills that every company pays? This corporate expense card, we call it the defy card. What it does is three kind of main things that are different. The first one is when the card gets spent on any company in our network with a customer that's on the other side, instead of going through visa or MasterCard, it goes through our network on the blockchain and there's no fees for anybody. Yeah. So, so that's a really powerful concept that it could be huge. Yeah. Again, that's putting visa and MasterCard in general, there they're roughly a trillion dollars between the two of them and market cap. That's a trillion dollars of basically lost money in our economy. If we can put that back by running it over, our system or decentralized system, that's great.

Jeremy Almond: So that's one cool thing. The second thing it does is because it uses blockchain, it's does smart control. It's got all this cool, expense management control stuff that, companies would expect so that they can have all their employees use it and they can, determine how it gets used and what it gets used on. It's this sort of next gen topic. The third one, which I guess is what we're probably most known for with this new product. You know, a lot of news covered. This is the reward points, our base natively in Bitcoin. Why that's interesting or important is, when I have a corporate card, let's say it's an American express card and I get my points. The problem is those points are kind of very opaque. So, you can't just easily exchange them for, I dunno, my United airlines points or my Starbucks points or whatever, they're kind of locked in for one.

Jeremy Almond: They're inflationary, meaning over time, those points become less usable. They're kind of this thing that they're supposed to be a benefit, but they're really just the lock-in. In our case, what we do is the card is spent in just regular dollars. It operates just like a normal credit card, a corporate card, but your points come back in this open, decentralized and deflationary system where your points actually increase in value. They can be used anywhere because what we see in the crypto side of the world is things like Bitcoin can be exchanged for everything from travel to rewards. It's not a closed garden, it's an open garden. It's part of the way we think financial services will evolve. It's an easy way at the end of the day for a corporation to get involved in dip their toe into these next gen financial products like crypto, but just operate like they normally would as a business.

Jeremy Almond: They're just spending like they normally would saving on all those fees, having really awesome NexGen expense management capabilities, and then they get to just exchange and learn about crypto for effectively free.

Kevin Horek: Fascinating. Okay. How does, well, I guess, are, can people use pay Stan obviously in America, but can they use it outside of America as well? Or how does that kind of work?

Jeremy Almond: Yeah, so our core business today is in the us, but we serve as because we service large companies. Those are global companies. It's not uncommon for us to have, a us national domiciled company, but have many subsidiaries in Europe or Canada or Latin America. We generally service companies over those contexts. We're, we're really excited about cross border. We haven't had anything to announce yet, but it's an area you can kind of watch where our business evolves because if you look today in the U S in generally mature markets in general financial services is in one case broken. On the other case, it's relatively mature, but in other parts of the world, financial services is not only broken, but they basically don't exist. The fact that businesses are highly under-banked and everywhere from Latin America to Africa, to parts of Asia. Yet we live in a global world where they're all part of the supply chain.

Jeremy Almond: This is where we're particularly excited about things like blockchain and decentralized finance, because it's a great enabler for that. It opens up and democratizes the economic systems and the concept of money to the whole world.

Kevin Horek: Totally. No, that's actually really fascinating because just like I live in Canada, myself and just doing work for American companies sometimes and getting paid can take months really, sometimes just because of how I know you can just based on how things just moving money across borders, it sounds so simple, but it's actually really challenging. Like you've just mentioned.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. And it's challenging for two reasons. One is the financial infrastructure itself was predominantly built before the internet. So. Both in the U S and in Canada and in most places. So, that that's kind of duct tape and bailing wire plumbing. In general, the infrastructure itself has not caught up, which is even in 2022. Then, so you have a, a systemic problem there. You also have a systemic problem again, around the business model, because all of the folks that are in the value chain, when you move money across the borders, again, they're all incentivized to put their hand in the cookie jar. What that means is you end up having not only speed problems, because the systems don't talk to each other, they're not global, they're not internet enabled. They're not all these things, but you also have this problem where, okay, well, the bank's going to charge a wire fee on both sides.

Jeremy Almond: So that costs money. They've got to kind of manually intervene in most cases, then there's FX fees. So, you have different exchange rates and then you have, input and output fees. It kind of all of this stacks up to a system that, doesn't look like the internet is great, promise was it was this democratizing force. We could send email or write a tweet to anyone in the world for free, because it's all just deemed materialized in software. That is not how financial services work. When you look at it across the borders, that whole becomes even glaringly larger. So,

Kevin Horek: Nope, that makes a lot of sense. I think it makes sense to probably cover as somebody that owns crypto. I think it makes sense to just say that before. I guess my question is blockchain and crypto get lumps, in my opinion, as the same thing to a lot of people, I know they're not, but how like, and if you, obviously, if you've read any news on crypto in the last couple of years, it's been a lot of kind of doom and gloom and that it's just like, it's nothing or whatever. Right. Like I said, I own some, so I don't really believe what I been reading, but I think it makes sense for you to cover what is like, how do these companies leverage the blockchain and put trust in the blockchain as well as crypto going forward? Because it's not getting great publicity right now, both things I would say.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. Yeah. I agree. I think the context I have is as someone who grew up right at the commercialization of the internet, it's actually really exciting because it feels the same way. So, when I entered undergrad as an engineer, you didn't quite know what the internet was going to be, but you certainly knew it was going to be something, it was a heck of a lot controversial at the time. So, I've been in the blockchain Bitcoin crypto ecosystem for over a decade now, and it's very similar to how this stuff felt in the internet, in the nineties, which is super exciting, but you have to kind of separate out the signal from the noise and there's a lot of noise. So here's a couple of thoughts. Things like digital assets are here to stay and they will change financial services. I can talk about why, Bitcoin as a store of value is a very interesting concept.

Jeremy Almond: Now seeing it, 12 years in, but think of that as the internet, I spend my world, my day job on the business side of the house and talking to fairly conservative enterprise companies. The way I talked to them about blockchain, which is the enabling infrastructure under some of these new financial products, the way you can think about blockchain is the new cloud and enterprises understand is, when the internet became a consumer revolution in the nineties, a lot of businesses tried to figure out, well, how do I engage in that? What happened was, in the late nineties and the two thousands, a couple of really innovative companies like Salesforce and Oracle net suite said, Hey, the way you can think about the internet for you as a business is it's enabling infrastructure. And, and so they said there was a CRM software, but you'd have it on premise and you have to buy the box software and you'd have to, maintain it and all of these things, or we can deliver it over the internet and it can be basically better, cheaper, faster software for you.

Jeremy Almond: That's what you care about as a company. That means your business is ultimately more efficient. And, at the time for folks, cloud was kind of this ominous thing. In the two thousands, a lot of folks, there was all this conversation around will companies, put their data in the cloud, will companies trust the cloud, all of this stuff. Now, we know 20 years later, like the cloud is so table stakes, like you don't, there's no software, that's not cloud, like literally all software in the business context is SAS software in the cloud. It took, a decade and a half, but it's now like the foregone conclusion. What I would say is blockchain, which is enabling technology that changes how we think about moving financial services and moving data around is a very similar evolution where today it feels like will companies put their information on it, how will it get used?

Jeremy Almond: What I would say is the technology, innovation is real it's world changing. It's never been invented before, 20 years ago. It does enable us to think about creating better, cheaper, faster, more efficient things, particularly in financial services. That's his first main use case, but in other areas as well from supply chain to insurance, to education, to all of these amazing things. The best companies today bet on cloud 15 years ago, and they are now the leaders of their space. What I'd say is for you as a company, you want to think about invest in and bet on, in early ways of blockchain today, because blockchain will be the new cloud and it will be the new commodity and a decade from now.

Kevin Horek: I think that's really good advice. The other thing that I think we should touch on quickly as well is how does web three play into this? In talking to some of these big and large enterprises, how are they adopting or thinking about web three? Maybe just before you answer that, what is web three to you, I guess? What does that mean for the listener? They don't know what it is.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah, but Bree means a lot of things to a lot of people, what I would say is web three almost goes back to, eh, the full realization of what we wanted web one to be. The promise of the internet was a completely open internet and, open beats closed. And, back in the nineties, there was things like AOL and CompuServe, these walled gardens of what you might consider as mini internets, but the open internet beat them. What happened in web two was to create great user experiences. We ended up centralizing a lot of the internet. Whether that's on social media, whether that's in big companies and they became these walled gardens, again, web three is this notion, which is enabled through blockchain, where, how do we decentralize and open up a lot of what we know the web to be. Whether that's, everything from communication to social media, to protocols on how businesses operate, web three is a new way for us to be able to inter operate in an open kind of way.

Jeremy Almond: That's really exciting because it will change how industries operate. We know of privacy concerns today. We know of concerns around, kicking people off platforms, ? Web three is a way to basically us all work together to create a system where there's great interfaces like web two, but are built in a more open, decentralized way. That's really what the blockchain does as a technology enablement.

Kevin Horek: Yeah. Interesting. I'm curious then what about, does the metaverse play into any of the stuff that you, or any of the big enterprises that you deal with? Are they thinking about that yet? Or is it still too early for them?

Jeremy Almond: Well, I'll give you an example of how web three, which has a lot of hype, right? Just like web one had a lot of hype. Sure. There's, there's a kernel of interesting thing. So, so NFTs are an example of something. That's got a lot of hype and now, there's been a shake down in the market as it should, but let me give you an example of why web three NFTs are interesting. There's an economic component to an NFT that I think gets missed. Like people think about it as just a JPEG that people spend a lot of money around, as some eight that you put on your profile. One of the big things, when I talk about more interoperability is you, how do you transfer ownership, but till still participated in an economy. So, maybe the example would be in the fifties or sixties when Marvel comics started, it was a very niche thing, right?

Jeremy Almond: If you had a comic book, you might be this great Spider-Man lover, but maybe only a handful of people love Spiderman, but you wanted to really tell people about Spider-Man. So, everywhere you went, you said, Hey, I love Spider-Man and I've got the first Spider-Man comic, and I'm going to trade it for you after you trade that first Spider-Man comic, it's kind of left your hands. While you could be an evangelist, you've no longer participated in the evangelism at the economic level. Now we know, Disney is this giant juggernaut that's bought Marvel and Spider-Man is this huge cultural icon. It's clearly worth a lot of money. What would happen if those first evangelists were able to participate in the economic value creation after they traded that first comic? That comic, then now exchanged hands a hundred times. You still talk about how cool Spider-Man was, you're participating in the economic outcome of the tribe of interest that you care about.

Jeremy Almond: Okay. So, so that kind of thing does not exist before NFTs. If Ts are a way for us to have shared interests, shared values with an economic engine behind it, that has more participatory now that hasn't been fully explored yet in deep levels, but folks like NBA are doing it with top shots, around trading cards and things like that, other brands are using it. So, so there are very interesting ways where digital commodities that we have shared interests around that brands participate in now become bottom up where it's both the brand, think about, Marvel in this case and the evangelists now super involved together. That's an area where web three again, is a playing field leveler because it allows instead of companies being all, top-down the economies to be actually built bottoms up, which is really interesting. It's never happened in history.

Kevin Horek: Oh yeah. It's totally fascinating. I always like covering NFTs on the show because I think we're just kind of scratching the surface on it. There's a, there's some people really doing some interesting things. Like I know a gaming company is basically making you as the NFT and as you compete and if you lose, they kill off your NLT. It's kind of an interesting idea around just different. I'm really curious to see how that plays out as well. Right. Cause a lot of people just think like, yeah, it's just the JPEG. It's like, no, there's a lot more that will come out in the coming years. There's some really good use cases for that stuff.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. It, and it's blurring the lines too. This is where like bucked blockchain on the enterprise side and web three on the consumer side start interacting. So on the enterprise side. One area of blockchain, that's very interesting to me that that's still early, but as this notion of property ownership. So, so property ownership is a huge way that people are able to jump the economic ladder and in a lot of emerging countries, things like title records are actually very difficult and fraught with fraud. So, so you actually might not know who owns what, and then if there's regime change, your ownership records can completely get wiped out. And, there's all kinds of bad things that happen in these systems because they're not digital, they're not kind of connected to your identity. They're just really fraught with problems, blockchain, because it has a immutable record that cannot be changed.

Jeremy Almond: It's this sort of assertion forever. It is a really good use case for Hey, property, land, title ownership, and records around that. In emerging markets, I think, there's a lot of really interesting work being done around it. So that's on the enterprise side. On the consumer side, a friend of mine is running a gaming company where, it's this big open world and it's a space company and you can basically get land in Mars and places like that. On the consumer side with web three, you're buying an NFT, which is a piece of the digital version of Mars in that game. And you're actually buying land ownership there. The NFT is your representation of that land ownership. Wherever you go across the open world, you always have it. The consumer side is using an NFT for that case is for digital land ownership in this game.

Jeremy Almond: Right? The enterprise side is using the blockchain as this stamping record with the government of actual ownership you have, again, those are two areas where both the digital world you might call the meta world in the actual world can intersect in today. Those things only exist outside of the blockchain in centralized ways in paper. Outside of the blockchain, that's a file somewhere in the government, on the enterprise side. Outside of web three, that would be some database entry that some, video game company owns forever and could change. Right? In both cases, the blockchain is kind of rethinking that. The ownership you have, whether physical or digital, is impermeable.

Kevin Horek: Fascinating. No. Interesting. I want to circle back to pay, stand again, as we're kind of coming to the end of the show, I want to talk about some of the integrations and some of the API is because I think any developers listening that would want to potentially integrate into their current software and or company.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. So, so pay stands core business. We spend a lot of time with the big cloud system. We work with very closely with, the big ERP. Think Oracle NetSuite, Sage Intacct, Microsoft dynamics, Salesforce, et cetera. And, and so most of these big companies, it's part of thesis of this. The business is they've invested in cloud. Like all their systems are digital, but then their money part, which is like the lifeblood of the business is not. And that's like, that's just weird. We oftentimes talk to the CFO who usually is our customer and say, look, you've invested in making, an, a post COVID economy like your whole business automated and people can work remote and all this other stuff. If you have to like send people in to go collect checks, that's a problem. We have really close partnerships with those folks and we tend to work with companies that are already invested there.

Jeremy Almond: What I'm excited about in the developer community is so our core blockchain, which runs our core network, we run over $4 billion in payment volume on the blockchain. We're probably the largest commercial blockchain on the planet today. All of that works in dollars and cents. It's done at a highly scalable fashion. So it's not a prototype. It's not an idea in a lab. It's not a white paper, but it's at scale it's pegged to, theory and public chain with high availability on the private chain. We've solved a lot of really interesting problems there. One of the things we've done is we've given back to the community where developers can use our version of highly available chain scaling for the enterprise in their own projects. We're not going to go and build that, property title management system for emerging markets, but the way we've scaled our payment system can be applied to that use case.

Jeremy Almond: We give developers, access to the chain and the protocol and APIs to be able to kind of build what we think are next gen enterprise blockchain type services in a totally open, decentralized way, because we think it's bigger than paced and what we're trying to accomplish. We think that's the magic of blockchain and defy and decentralization is we can all build open software that interacts, and hopefully that makes the systems a little more fair. So we're excited. We've got a bunch of developers who are building really cool things on it, and we're happy to talk to other folks who have great ideas that we can just, help you go do something really cool. So.

Kevin Horek: Fascinating. Okay. Very cool. I'm curious, did you bootstrap the company? Did you raise some money? Walk us through that.

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. So I've been doing startups for 20 years now. I've been, I've done it in bootstrapped environments, which I learned a lot from, I've done it in high financial service environments like New York. I've been in Silicon valley for the last 12 years now. I think actually you want of all of that when you have a really ambitious project. The way the early company started was, we basically self-funded the business until we got to the first customers, because one of the things I observed was, and this is way back. In 2013, when we started developing the idea on a napkin, it was really like the first hype cycle of crypto and blockchain. What I saw then, and it's crazy that this is still true. Nine years later, everybody was talking about this cool tech, but nobody was building anything of like real value. I was really just afraid or leery of going and raising a bunch of money with an idea, even though maybe we could have.

Jeremy Almond: I just wanted to go get customers and prove real value first. Went the first year, basically self-funded and, we brought in a handful of customers showed that the payment infrastructure was just better, right? If you can move money, instantly and automatically without fees. That's great. From there, went out to investors and, we've chosen investors who are really aligned with our vision. So, the first investors in PayPal and plaid and these big financial, iconic companies now are, part of our journey, which we've been really blessed. So, today we've raised, I don't know, almost $90 million in venture capital money. That's huge. Well, obviously I don't need to say that last, but at the same time, we've always stayed true to, we, as a company we've always been, and I think this has changed in the last couple of years when the market was really hot, the startup market was hot.

Jeremy Almond: We've always just been indexing on building a global world, changing iconic and during company that hopefully one day is public. I was less concerned with the hype cycle. We didn't raise money to raise money and, just post unicorn valuations. For us, it was just, we've been one of the fastest growing companies in the world. We've been on the Inc 500, I don't know, three or four times in a row. Now we've been top tenants fastest growing in Silicon valley, I think the last two years. And, and so we're, we're using that money to reinvest in the growth of the company, but the company actually economically is fundamentally sound. So we wouldn't need to raise capital. The core business can run just as it is today because we're creating real value for customers. VC is great as a growth and enablement vehicle, but you really want to create enduring companies.

Jeremy Almond: That's kind of been part of the DNA of the company for the beginning. So.

Kevin Horek: No, very cool, man. That's, that's awesome. I'm curious, because you've been in this obviously been an entrepreneur for a long time. Now you teach you mentor, you've done all this stuff. What advice would you want to give to people listening as we close out the show?

Jeremy Almond: Yeah, I think value creation really matters in, and I would just go back to the most simple things. If you're starting a company there's really only two things that matter, working directly with the customer and, building and shipping product. Even, our company knows at a reasonable scale, we'll be, I don't know, 500 employees this year. I think we're servicing 350,000 businesses on our network. We're at a nice level of scale, but at the end of the day, like all of the extra stuff, like, how do you change? How do you change the customer? So you make their lives better. If you do that, the business has ultimately work out. All this technology innovation, I'm fundamentally a technologist, but it's got to reach the customer. So, the model I think about is a bunch of my friends in the late nineties, when I was doing computer science, they all dropped out of school and the VCs gave him a bunch of money to go start, some random.com company and nearly all of them flamed out.

Jeremy Almond: One of my friends though, went to go work for Amazon. And Amazon is tiny at the time. I was thinking, boy, for all the opportunity, this guy is going to go work for a bookstore, which seemed kind of crazy. But, he ended up being one of the most successful out of our cohort because, he was whatever, I don't know, one of the first hundred employees there. What I realized was to get to your vision, you really have to succeed at one thing really well, forced to prove value. Amazon had to first prove, before all this conquering e-commerce, they just had to prove that the bookstore online was better cheaper and more efficient than, shipping books everywhere, physically at Barnes and noble or whatever. And they did that really well. For all the internet hype, they had to do that really well. The customers had to delight there and only then could they prove their next, horizon, which was a to Z, this notion that if I take that and then I play it to all commerce and then eventually they can do AWS, right.

Jeremy Almond: Which is to power the commerce of the internet, but you have to build your way there to do these enduring things. I think, the stuff I'm excited about, whether it's in blockchain or defy or crypto, I, I think the thing, what I want to see is more enduring companies be built focused on, the value first and do more show in a little less tell. So,

Kevin Horek: No, I, I think that's really good advice, but sadly we're out of time. How about we close with mentioning where people can get more information about yourself, pay, stand in any other links you want to mention?

Jeremy Almond: Yeah. So, so thanks for having me on Kevin. It's always awesome to talk to you and the listeners. First, if you're interested in B2B payments, if you're, a company growing fast and want to get your money faster, cheaper, and more efficiently, you can just go to pay, stand.com. It's just like, it sounds pay stan.com. If you want to follow me, I, and learn more about blockchain and define where the FinTech industry is going. You can find me at Jeremy almond on Twitter and LinkedIn, and then look for an upcoming blog series that myself and VC co-hosts are going to do really unearthing what defy means for our economy. I'm excited about that coming up too. So.

Kevin Horek: Very cool. Well, Jeremy, I really appreciate you taking the time on your day to be on the show. I look forward to keeping in touch with you and have a good rest of the day, man,

Jeremy Almond: Keller Kevin. Appreciate it, man. Thank.

Kevin Horek: You too. Okay. Bye.

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