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A big challenge in B2B relationships is knowing the reliability or trustability of new companies you work with. Will they pay invoices on time for example? StonePay noticed a gap in the market to give businesses ‘reputation scores’ based on real data. Think of StonePay as the Tripadvisor for businesses, where your reputation matters! You can build your business’ reputation or evaluate your client’s reputation based on virtuous payment habits, validated by the supply-chain community.

We wanted to know more, so we sat down with Founder Filippo Mazzei for an interview.

To start off can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a dynamic person with a strong interest in new businesses and innovation. In 2016, I moved to the UK from Italy to study Business and Management at University of Westminster. New technologies have always interested me: I took part in my university’s Start-Up Co-Creator programme contributing to the ideation and launch of the start-up ‘Happy Student’ in 2018, which is now up and running offering foreign students a set of solutions to help integrate into London’s university life.

What did your career look like before StonePay?

I started work in a sports marketing agency based in London named Mughoot, where I was part of the business development team responsible for partner relationships. After this I had the chance to join one of the leading B2B marketplaces in the natural stone trade industry. I was put in charge of the development of SmartFair, their online event-driven exhibition solution to assist selling their wares; facilitating thousands of companies during the first pandemic wave when trade events and exhibitions had to be held remotely. Our online catalogues carried goods valued at over US$250 million.

When and how did you realise that there was a market being underserved? 

When working on SmartFair I realised that B2B in terms of overall business transacted is much larger than B2C; and for new businesses it offers an easier and more concentrated market to address than B2C. I identified two major business risks in the B2B trading community: the lack of corresponding party trust, and the wide acceptance of late payments. 

In our SmartFair platform, the ‘shopping cart’ was a high-value container and all transactions were settled by term payments; letters of credit are no longer viable because of costs and delays incurred.

Transaction risks remain all upstream, and lack of trust between trading parties affects business trading relationships in every part of the world.  

These risks mean that many business operators do business mostly with parties they already know. The alternative for new relationships is to acquire information from credit score companies, credit bureaus, and other financial institutions about the other party. But this data is hard to find and costly, and then it is often incomplete or outdated.  So I quickly came to the realisation that this current financial data solution was simply not enough to engender trust between companies that are often not in the same jurisdiction or even sometimes on opposite sides of the world, speaking a different language.

What does StonePay do?

When we set out to build StonePay we wondered how we could obtain such verified business information? We didn’t want to approach it like another credit score system, relying on external financial data. We wanted to start and end with the community to help democratise trust. Our mission was ambitious, to create a new standard of trust that helps accelerate trading by facilitating establishing the terms of trade with a new partner, client or vendor. 

We came up with a simple and positive approach where each company can control their ‘Reputation Score’ by virtuous payment behaviour – turning confirmed payment history into reputation points. This approach completely revolutionises the current paradigm. StonePay captures data from the two parties directly involved in the transaction, confirming each other’s performance, that’s it.

This way every company can build their rating and trust profile, which is secure and in their control to be shared or kept private if they wish. Your business reputation report can be shared to represent the company’s trustability, to obtain better credit conditions or business terms, and generally to accelerate business through the promotion of greater trust.

You can call it the ‘Tripadvisor for business’ or the ‘TrustPilot of B2B trading’ but it’s more valuable, it’s a trust-mark certified by a community of B2B companies. Technology is changing finance. Help us accelerate this change. StonePay challenges traditional norms, optimises trust through a virtuous cycle and makes it easier for everyone to do more business.

What does your competitive landscape look like and how does StonePay differentiate itself?

In B2B late payments are a huge worldwide problem, mainly addressed by 3 types of solution:

  • Accounting software platforms 
  • Credit insurance companies
  • Credit score apps 

All these current solutions are based on financial data that is often incomplete and out of date. Financial audits cover only a part of the problem, they aren’t reliable or available in every relationship. Also today’s generally accepted approach is based entirely on external control: it means that an institution or software app evaluates and gives a ranking. We wanted to change that, let the community deal with that. We bring the power back to the user and to the business and trading community.

How do you plan to create a scalable and profitable business model?

First, the business model. StonePay app will always and forever be FREE (freemium). ts main purpose is to reach the maximum number of users worldwide and offer a private and secure reputation rating that they control. We have a distribution strategy based on viral processes built in, and have various approaches to mitigate the common ‘cold start’ problem. You can read more on this in our pitch. In the next phase we will release a Premium version which will add more advanced features such as branded profiles and notifications, branded and customised reports and more. Offering services like credit and loans, credit insurance, invoice financing, collections, HR, etc.

Second, the go-to market strategy. We believe too many start-ups rely on generic marketing strategies,  advertising or social media campaigns, to increase the number of downloads. But what follows is the real problem: will there be active users that regularly check-in on the app? Is it sticky?  

How many apps are downloaded in our phones but never used? We realised that to maximise the app’s traction and usage, StonePay has to be very easy to use. And it has to work right out of the box and require no change in business processes and work routines.

That is why one of our first steps after crowdfunding is to finalise two API modules for the main accounting solutions (Xero, Quickbooks) in order to integrate StonePay with no coding required.  You can just imagine how many invitations are be generated by each company in an invoicing cycle.  

We will make a series of agreements with software houses in order to add a free StonePay script in their accounting software to let their customers earn points while doing something they are already doing, with no interruption or even change to their routine. Another element of our go-to market strategy will be to develop partnerships with a range of ‘influencer’ companies. We will develop a branded StonePay version for them. Those clusters will be another important source of active users for us. We offer something very special for such large companies: a new way to track and reward payment and collection at their own company. StonePay can provide granular analysis on payment and invoicing activity, and offer a new way to incentivise certain payment and invoicing behaviours.

What do you plan to do with the money you raise? 

We need to provide StonePay with more solid elements in terms of the current team and new management and expand the technical team. In terms of technology, our main goal is to develop the APIs for the two most popular accounting solutions, and to improve our web-based StonePay version.

What do you love to do in your free time? 

What I like most is travelling. I am very lucky to be born in a wonderful country, so every time I have the chance, I go back to Italy and take my car to go visit new places. I am a sports enthusiast and love to play football and tennis. I also really enjoy watching Formula 1, and Moto GP. Finally, since my earliest years I have been a show jumping enthusiast and I was a professional show jumper before moving to London, representing Italy in international shows around Europe.

If you weren’t building StonePay, what do you think you’d be doing?

I am pretty sure I would be working in a startup. After my experience at SmartFair, I have developed a strong desire to be part of ambitious projects that are still at the beginning of their journey. Contributing at such an early stage of the process involves many responsibilities, but definitely pays back in terms of satisfaction.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far building StonePay?

We all make mistakes, it is how we deal with them that really counts.

Interested in investing in StonePay? Take a look at their campaign here.