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Learning From the Leaders

Discover the secrets to success from SumUp co-founder Marc Alexander Christ. SumUp was named one of Europe’s fastest growing customer with 3000 companies joining every day.

By Ollie Forsyth | Head of Growth Insights | June 27, 2019

BLOG

Learning From the Leaders

Discover the secrets to success from SumUp co-founder Marc Alexander Christ. SumUp was named one of Europe’s fastest growing customer with 3000 companies joining every day.

By Ollie Forsyth | Head of Growth Insights | June 27, 2019

Each month, we catch up with a founder of one of the country’s most successful high growth businesses to find out the challenges they’ve faced in scaling their companies and what advice they have.

This week we have the pleasure of speaking with Marc Alexander Christ, co-founder of leading payments solutions company, SumUp.

SumUp was recently named as Europe’s fastest-growing company in the ‘Inc. 5000’, with over 1 million active users and over 3,000 companies joining every day internationally.

Founded in 2012, SumUp is Headquartered in London with offices in Berlin, Dublin, São Paulo, Boulder, Sofia, and Amsterdam.

Marc, thank you for your time. Could you start by telling us about your background to date?
Sure, I graduated in 2001, so I was either going to go into banking or consulting. So, I first went into banking doing real estate in New York and then moved to Germany. When the whole industry blew-up, there wasn’t a job for me – so I travelled the world and stumbled across a startup which was later sold to Groupon. I then started a fashion startup, MIOSATO, which failed instantly at the Series A stage, but I ran into my co-founder and launched SumUp.


You started SumUp in 2012, what was the eureka moment?
When my first business failed, I really wanted to understand the payments market, and we wanted to make it simple for the merchant for accepting payments. When I met my co-founder who had the idea of SumUp, I joined within the first two hours. I’ve learnt setting up a company with a co-founder is much better.


What is SumUp all about?
We started a few years before anyone had heard the word FinTech. SumUp is card acceptance for merchants – we are taking advantage of POS, and the fact every merchant has a smart device.


The  payments space is incredibly competitive, what are some of your biggest challenges?
Given that this is a huge market, I actually think the competitiveness could be much larger than what it is today.


What have been some of the fundraising challenges?
We have raised more than $100m to date. Back in 2013, there was a lot of interest in the payments market – there was a lot of hype around that period. We had 25 competitors in 2013 alone – but many didn’t survive because they couldn’t find product market fit but we were able to keep going.


How do you manage 15 offices and employ the right people?
It’s obviously challenging but we use Zoom. We are always hiring so it’s important for them to understand our vision and passion for the brand. We now have 1,000 employees.


Would SumUp ever IPO?
I am quite against IPO’ing because it’s quite difficult for startups to grasp the financial markets but for now, we will stay private.


You are also an Angel Investor, what have been some of the lessons from investing compared to being a founder?
Well, they are very similar because in the end, Angel Investing is about backing very early founders where 80%-90% don’t make it, but the trick I think is to find the right team and companies that have found a solution in the market.


What have been one or two of your biggest screw-ups?
When we launched, we had a very large payroll team, around 100, but this was too early for us and the economics didn’t work, it actually took us a long time to realize. So, we had to let the entire team go. We had to go big, because when we started in August 2012, we were solving such a big problem, we just needed to hand this out to merchants in order for them to use it. But, like all startups, the product was going to change but what I learnt is we scaled too early. Today, we have one million merchants.

What would be your advice to founders?
Just keep the motivation up and the team inspired. Keeping grinding until you find the solution. Don’t scale too fast.

Interview Conducted by Ollie Forsyth from strategic marketing consultancy, Thomond.  Thomond are leading experts at helping businesses outperform the market by creating measurable, profitable, predictable and scalable marketing campaigns.  To find out how Thomond can help your business drive revenue growth programmes read more about our services here.

About SumUp
SumUp (www.sumup.co.uk) is a financial technology company that allows businesses of all sizes to receive payments quickly and simply, both in-store and online. Named this year as Europe’s fastest-growing company in the ‘Inc. 5000’, SumUp has 1 million active users and over 3,000 companies joining every day internationally. With its card readers relied upon by businesses from DHL to black cab drivers, SumUp surpassed an annual revenue of $200 million in 2017. SumUp’s 100% digital sign-up, fast delivery, and quick and easy set-up, means that merchants can be empowered by digital transactions within just minutes of receiving their reader.

Headquartered in London (and with offices in Berlin, Dublin, São Paulo, Boulder, Sofia, and Amsterdam), SumUp was founded in 2012 and is currently used in over 31 countries on three continents. Working with leading payment companies such as Visa and Mastercard, the company has secured funding from the likes of American Express, Groupon, and BBVA.

Marc Alexander
Co-founder, Sum Up

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Each month, we catch up with a founder of one of the country’s most successful high growth businesses to find out the challenges they’ve faced in scaling their companies and what advice they have.

This week we have the pleasure of speaking with Marc Alexander Christ, co-founder of leading payments solutions company, SumUp.

SumUp was recently named as Europe’s fastest-growing company in the ‘Inc. 5000’, with over 1 million active users and over 3,000 companies joining every day internationally.

Founded in 2012, SumUp is Headquartered in London with offices in Berlin, Dublin, São Paulo, Boulder, Sofia, and Amsterdam.

Marc, thank you for your time. Could you start by telling us about your background to date?
Sure, I graduated in 2001, so I was either going to go into banking or consulting. So, I first went into banking doing real estate in New York and then moved to Germany. When the whole industry blew-up, there wasn’t a job for me – so I travelled the world and stumbled across a startup which was later sold to Groupon. I then started a fashion startup, MIOSATO, which failed instantly at the Series A stage, but I ran into my co-founder and launched SumUp.


You started SumUp in 2012, what was the eureka moment?
When my first business failed, I really wanted to understand the payments market, and we wanted to make it simple for the merchant for accepting payments. When I met my co-founder who had the idea of SumUp, I joined within the first two hours. I’ve learnt setting up a company with a co-founder is much better.


What is SumUp all about?
We started a few years before anyone had heard the word FinTech. SumUp is card acceptance for merchants – we are taking advantage of POS, and the fact every merchant has a smart device.


The  payments space is incredibly competitive, what are some of your biggest challenges?
Given that this is a huge market, I actually think the competitiveness could be much larger than what it is today.


What have been some of the fundraising challenges?
We have raised more than $100m to date. Back in 2013, there was a lot of interest in the payments market – there was a lot of hype around that period. We had 25 competitors in 2013 alone – but many didn’t survive because they couldn’t find product market fit but we were able to keep going.


How do you manage 15 offices and employ the right people?
It’s obviously challenging but we use Zoom. We are always hiring so it’s important for them to understand our vision and passion for the brand. We now have 1,000 employees.


Would SumUp ever IPO?
I am quite against IPO’ing because it’s quite difficult for startups to grasp the financial markets but for now, we will stay private.


You are also an Angel Investor, what have been some of the lessons from investing compared to being a founder?
Well, they are very similar because in the end, Angel Investing is about backing very early founders where 80%-90% don’t make it, but the trick I think is to find the right team and companies that have found a solution in the market.


What have been one or two of your biggest screw-ups?
When we launched, we had a very large payroll team, around 100, but this was too early for us and the economics didn’t work, it actually took us a long time to realize. So, we had to let the entire team go. We had to go big, because when we started in August 2012, we were solving such a big problem, we just needed to hand this out to merchants in order for them to use it. But, like all startups, the product was going to change but what I learnt is we scaled too early. Today, we have one million merchants.

What would be your advice to founders?
Just keep the motivation up and the team inspired. Keeping grinding until you find the solution. Don’t scale too fast.

Interview Conducted by Ollie Forsyth from strategic marketing consultancy, Thomond.  Thomond are leading experts at helping businesses outperform the market by creating measurable, profitable, predictable and scalable marketing campaigns.  To find out how Thomond can help your business drive revenue growth programmes read more about our services here.

About SumUp
SumUp (www.sumup.co.uk) is a financial technology company that allows businesses of all sizes to receive payments quickly and simply, both in-store and online. Named this year as Europe’s fastest-growing company in the ‘Inc. 5000’, SumUp has 1 million active users and over 3,000 companies joining every day internationally. With its card readers relied upon by businesses from DHL to black cab drivers, SumUp surpassed an annual revenue of $200 million in 2017. SumUp’s 100% digital sign-up, fast delivery, and quick and easy set-up, means that merchants can be empowered by digital transactions within just minutes of receiving their reader.

Headquartered in London (and with offices in Berlin, Dublin, São Paulo, Boulder, Sofia, and Amsterdam), SumUp was founded in 2012 and is currently used in over 31 countries on three continents. Working with leading payment companies such as Visa and Mastercard, the company has secured funding from the likes of American Express, Groupon, and BBVA.

Marc Alexander
Co-founder, Sum Up

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Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

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