Friday, February 28, 2014
Quick Pitch Friday: Taher Scherzay, Thaeres
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
For our pitch today, we have an interview with Taher Scherzay, founder of Thaeres (www.thaeres.com), a Los Angeles area startup developing subscription and recurring payment processing services. Scherzay was previously the CTO at CrowdGather, and also had founded social media software firm FavRav.
What is Thaeres about?
Taher Scherzay: We launched Thaeres last July. For organizations that have subscription or recurring revenue, Thaeres is a billing system that fully automates the operations and administration of payment services. Thaeres is a SaaS-based, dashboard solution for mid-market enterprises. Effectively, when an organization uses our product, the can scale any subscription service with ease.
Where did the service idea come from?
Taher Scherzay: In my past career, I have been building commercial services. Eventually, what happens with those services, you have to monetize those. Usually, that piece isn't thought of very clearly, and you end up having to put a billing system together. I knew that there were a lot of businesses who also struggle to put a payment processing system together that will scale with their needs. We are looking at a market which is primarily mid-level, where they are too big for using Quickbooks as their solution, but they're not big enough to use an Oracle or SAP. They're left in the middle ground. In those situations, they're really relying on human labor to resolve the problems of accounts receivable. We looked at the market and tried to figure out how we could provide a solution for those industries, to specifically meet their needs. There was a need in the marketplace for solutions like this.
Talk about your background?
Taher Scherzay: I've been an engineer since school, and a CTO for quite a number of years. I've always had an entrepreneurial drive. I looked at this as another opportunity to target and industry I could make an impact on. I built the software on my own, initially, and brought it to market. Now, we're putting together a team of engineers, sales, and marketing people to launch this nationally.
Where's the sweet spot for your product?
Taher Scherzay: We've actually gotten ourselves into a niche market, initially. We are looking at commercial business services, those businesses who in turn also have customers who are businesses. One of the big markets we're looking at is call centers, another is commercial landscapers, and other business-to-business services. The reason these services are unique, is that they have regular, subscription services, where customers pay on a month to month, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual basis. They have large customer bases, and do tens-of-millions of dollars of revenue. But, they're not $100M and can't afford that kind of infrastructure, and they're too big for the smaller solutions. What we've done for each of these industries, is we've built out individual adapters that meet their unique need--for example, call centers have a very specific way they meter minutes and provide services, as do other industries.
How are you funded?
Taher Scherzay: We've bootstrapped this from the get go, which is from design. The idea was to bootstrap this to where we had enough traction that we could prove out our business model and find our niche, and find a large, addressable audience. We think we have, at this point. We're looking now to gain more traction and hope by summer is we might consider venture capital, if it makes sense. Right now the trajectory has been very nice. If and when we raise money, we'll be looking at strategic partners, where it is a benefit to both the partner as well as ourselves.
What's the model behind how you charge customers for this?
Taher Scherzay: It's addressed to each individual business, since they all have very unique needs. There is significant customization, branding services, and unique services. We structure it so that if they make money, we make money. It's a variable cost, depending on nature of business it varies up and down.
What's the biggest thing you've learned so far getting the business up and running?
Taher Scherzay: The hardest thing for customers is to get them to understand that there's an alternative. They've been going for so long without a solution, it's hard for them to understand there's a solution. The businesses we have gone after, they've been in business for decades at a time--and they haven't had a solution for this. The good thing is that we see there's a need for it, and it's a must-have. Because we deal with payment services, they have to have it, because it generates revenues for them. The hardest part we find is when we we start talking to a customer, we have to get them over the hump that we can meet their need. It's really change management to deal with, that they have to wrap their heads around something which is fundamentally different than they're used to.