May 29, 201311:47 AMVan Lines
with Joe Vanden Plas
Term of endearment: Networking, the TermSync way
(page 1 of 2)
Mark Wilson might be a humble former accountant and CFO, but he can network with the best of them. So much so that TermSync, the Madison start-up company he runs, now has more than 100,000 business points of contact.
Such critical mass is what Wilson has built during his first couple of years as chief executive of TermSync. While he’s quick to note his business is not a collections company, it has designed a cloud-based, software-as-a-service product to help companies manage their accounts receivables process and take some of the hassle out of collections.
You might call him the “cash-flow dude” because it’s not a coincidence that his company has taken off in a slow-growth economic period in which cash flow took on added importance. TermSync now has enough customers aggregated in one place – its software product of the same name – that it can think about what future product development cycles will bring.
What they will bring is more product add-ons. “When the company formed, our software was basically an electronic funds transfer for transaction processing,” Wilson explained. “That’s still part of what we do, but the software has evolved to help companies manage their accounts receivables in the same way customer relationship management solutions help sales teams manage the entire sales process.”
In mirroring CRM, TermSync has automated the parts of the accounts receivable process that can be automated – tracking calls, logging notes, sending payment reminders, sending or receiving invoices, or automatically drawing funds via Automated Clearing House (ACH) if a payment has not been received by a previously agreed-upon date.
So instead of an archaic combination of sticky notes, Excel spreadsheets and – channeling my inner Romney – binders full of whatever, there is one central software system to manage such interactions. Companies that like their accounts receivables process can incorporate their own workflow rules and best practices and then use the technology to handle things that affect customers, such as offering access to TermSync’s payment portal.
If that sounds a bit Pay Pal-ish, so be it, but there are more relationship dimensions to this system. TermSync – the organization, not the software – is tracking the number of businesses that are not its direct clients but “have done something” in TermSync, whether it’s paying an invoice or receiving a copy of an invoice, Wilson said. Two years ago, that number was about 2,000 per month, but now it’s more than 100,000, most of them small or medium-sized businesses.
With more than 100,000 companies now part of the TermSync network, the number of monthly ACH transactions the company handles has grown from 15,000 to 300,000. With so many businesses using the software to perform some type of function, it creates opportunities for those aforementioned add-on products.
“The hardest part was getting everyone in the same room (software system), if you will, but they are there,” Wilson noted. “Now we have an opportunity to provide customer support products or some of the other things we’ve talked about, such as helping companies build out loyalty programs, either on the business-to-consumer side or the business-to-business side.
“You don’t see a lot on the B-2-B side, partly because if you have a loyalty program with your vendors, you probably have 50 vendors, so you’d have to manage those 50 individually. If we get several of your vendors on the same platform, it allows you to manage a loyalty program in one location.”
Since the company’s founding, TermSync has secured angel capital funding (seed funding and a $2.3 million round last July), has signed some fairly large customers (including a PepsiCo distributor), and has released CustomerConnect, a separate product offering that vendors can make available to their customers. It also launched ScoreCard, a monthly executive dashboard of some of the key metrics the TermSync platform records.
While add-ons were always part of the business plan, the idea for CustomerConnect came from conversations with clients. “Perhaps one in 10 companies we talk to legitimately has a good, efficient [accounts receivables] process and doesn’t need our full product,” Wilson explained, “but they still want the part that relates to their customers.
“This wasn’t in the plan all along. It came about dealing with existing clients and then other prospects that weren’t ready for our more complete offering. We’re giving them almost a ‘light’ version of our core product.”
The easiest way to explain TermSync is that it offers a universal portal for every vendor. Think of how it might work for a restaurant proprietor. Among a restaurant’s various suppliers are food, beer, and soda distributors. Most of them probably have some sort of customer support portal they can log into, but if they are a small business owner, they are unlikely to create a username and a password for each vendor’s individual portal. So TermSync and CustomerConnect become a standardized portal where they can manage any of their individual vendors in one location.
The software enables them to go a step further “where if you do ask questions, or need to file disputes, it puts some accountability on the vendor,” Wilson explained. “How long does it take the vendor to resolve an issue? You can also know your satisfaction levels with vendors. It’s really about trying to get customers to be more proactive and ask questions, rather than sitting back and waiting for the vendors to call them.”