Rom Lakrtiz, CEO of Anchor shares with us his entrepreneurial journey which began after completing his accounting exams.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Anchor.
Rom Lakritz: I am the co-founder and CEO of Anchor, also a certified CPA, attorney, and CFO. I am a seasoned leader with an unstoppable curiosity to thoroughly and methodically understand everything I dive into. My career started at an early-stage venture capital fund. After completing the accounting exams and becoming a CPA, I started working at EY in the economic department. After my tenure there, I founded a boutique economic consulting firm to advise small businesses. I there began suffering from the pains of billing, collection, and late payments, but the technology was not there yet to help me. Since then, I have become part of the founding team and executive of five different startups and have led the acquisition of Fireglass for $250M by Symantec, Omnix funding of over $35M, and an IPO of a London-based company in the LSE. Now, I have returned to solve the challenge I experienced in the past, the pain of B2B billing & payments with the Fintech startup Anchor for all service providers and businesses.
How does Anchor innovate?
Rom Lakritz: Anchor innovates in everything we do. We look at everything through a new lens and don’t pay attention to the existing consensus. When Anchor brainstorms, we don’t allow anything to limit us. As a company, there is no “allowed or not allowed.” We focus on the goal and all the ways we can get there, and more often than not, we have to think outside the box to figure out how to solve a new problem. We look at our goals, the task that needs to be completed and then start thinking about getting the intended result from scratch.
Instead of focusing our efforts on the accounts payable or receivable, we looked at the end goal of the transaction. We never pay attention to the rulebook. The end goal of all transactions is the same for both parties — give the best service possible and get paid for it, or get the best service possible and pay for it. We needed to figure out a way to encompass all the processes each side ventures through and build it into one easy-to-use, frictionless and risk-free platform.
This solution was born from real needs and challenges that all businesses face. Late payments, long and expensive processes, risk of fraud, errors can always happen when someone is making an invoice manually, but Anchor fixes this from the core. There are no more human-related errors. The platform gives power to both parties by ensuring both sides are working safely on the platform and always in line with the agreed-upon terms.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your business?
Rom Lakritz: Anchor began prior to the pandemic, and I traveled to the US every couple of weeks to meet with customers and learn from them. We only had the idea for the project at that point and were working to make new connections with future customers. However, that became exceedingly more difficult as the pandemic made it hard to travel. We had to figure out a new way to build trust. Soon everyone began to see the need to adjust to the new normal and moved to digitization. In the beginning, no one had the capacity to deal with new products or people. However, that changed a bit when digitization took over. People began to realize how important communication was, and everything moved online. We started to mold into a new normal where everything was centered around digitization and moving their work and company online.
When the need for digitization took off, the idea of autonomous billing became more relevant for many businesses. Anchor started to see more traction once people realized how much time and effort would be saved with our platform.
What are the current trends in the FinTech industry, and how quickly does it change?
Rom Lakritz: Open banking has really changed the FinTech Industry. At the beginning of 2019, there was a change in UK regulation when Payment Service Directive Two (PSD2) was implemented. The PSD2 was a piece of British legislation designed to force providers of payment services to improve customer authentication processes and also bring in new regulations around third-party involvement, which opened the banking systems to solutions like Anchor. Before this legislation, we couldn’t automate anything except the billing, but now we can process and automate collection and payments as well. People are becoming more and more accustomed to automated, digital payments, and there is no reason that companies shouldn’t be able to have this ease of use for their customers too.
Another big trend in the FinTech world is cryptocurrency and blockchain-based systems. When I first started looking into developing Anchor in 2013, open banking wasn’t a solution yet. I always ended up looking into crypto, but I thought it would take too long to mature. However, now we see that crypto is a real player, and within the next few years, more and more projects will focus on crypto.
Who is the target audience of Anchor? Do you have any interesting partnerships?
Rom Lakritz: Our target audience is SMBs. We, at Anchor, are solving the problem of late payments and cash flow problems, so many SMBs run into and in the long run – B2B market, starting with small businesses and cash flow problems. Service providers are most susceptible to this issue.
Tell us more about your platform/technology.
Rom Lakritz: Anchor connects businesses and their clients through a ‘live online agreement’ that serves as a single source of truth between businesses and their clients. Anchor’s autonomous end-to-end billing and payments solution covers the entire cycle: starting with the vendor and client agreement and managing the invoicing, payment, and reconciliation steps. This automation frees businesses of all sizes to focus on doing billable work instead of the time-consuming and costly manual work involved in trying to get paid on time.
Anchor integrates with the client’s payment information and with the service provider’s tech stack. Once the service is delivered, or upon the billing due date, the invoices are automatically populated and sent according to the agreement and deliverables. Once payments are released, Anchor automates the collections and reconciliation.
How do you see the future of Anchor? What are the next steps for the company?
Rom Lakritz: We have some exciting partnerships in the future that we will be sharing in the coming months. We are currently focused on growth in the US market but will be moving into the European market soon too.