A Few Reflections on a ‘Weird’ 2020

A message from our Co-Founder and CEO to the Payability team:

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” — Frederick Douglass

What a year we’ve just had. I kept promising myself I’d come up with a better description, but ‘weird’ continues to be the best I can do for now. 

We started this year with a stagnant 2019 behind us and a team that was over-stretched and under-resourced. Not exactly the fact pattern you want heading into the most tumultuous year any of us has seen in our lifetimes. And yet, as a team we rose to the challenge, ending the year with substantial revenue growth, 40% more team members at Payability and much more operating cash than we started the year with. How we accomplished that is worth reflecting on.

There was not a single silver bullet to our success this year; 2020 was a year where we waged our war with a thousand lead bullets. By that I mean that every member of the Payability Team executed our strategy extremely well in every corner of the company. That’s not to say we didn’t make mistakes (if we hadn’t, it would have meant we were going too slow). What it means is that everyone worked as a team, and as a team we took informed risks and won more than we lost. In a year where victories seemed hard to come by, this team win feels especially good. And in many ways, Payability was a microcosm of humanity as a whole in 2020 – we struggled, but we made progress.

I lay the credit for our victories squarely at the feet of our team and the company culture we have jointly created. Our company culture is the operating system by which we communicate and execute together. That proved especially difficult in a year where we had to suddenly begin working remotely and then proceeded to increase the size of our team by 40%. But, our team and our culture met the moment, and I couldn’t be prouder for it.

That is not to say that we don’t have challenges to overcome and fix. We do, and some of them are huge. But for now, for this moment of reflection as we prepare to close out 2020, let’s all take a moment and relish what we came together to accomplish. Together we provided over $1,400,000,000 in financing to small and medium sized businesses in a year that saw record breaking SMB bankruptcies, yet we managed to do so sensibly and profitably.  That is over $22,000,000 in funding for every member of the Payability Team. That’s a lot. And it was badly needed capital to an underserved area of the economy that suddenly became the supply chain lifeline to hundreds of millions of people. You provided $22mm in funding to small businesses this year – feel good about what that meant to a pandemic ridden society.

All of this leaves me feeling grateful. Grateful to be surrounded by a team that I trust going to battle with. Grateful that together we put ourselves in a position where we could have an impact at a critical time for humanity. And grateful that there is light at the end of this long tunnel.

I am excited for what 2021 and beyond holds for all of us. I wish you all Happy Holidays and New Year and some much needed rest so we can show the world what we have in store for our next act.

Stay Safe and Healthy,

Keith Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Payability

Keith Smith
Keith Smith is the Co-founder and CEO of Payability, a FinTech company that provides financing and payment solutions to eCommerce sellers. Its patented technology utilizes machine learning algorithms to underwrite customers based on sales quality and historical eCommerce performance - rather than simply looking at personal credit scores. Previously, Keith founded and ran multiple startups, including; CyberMortgage, Zango, and BigDoor. Keith lends his time to early-stage startups via Techstars and serves as an adviser, investor, and board member for multiple tech startups.

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