An payment solution startup that began at the innovation campus two years ago and now boasts 30 employees in Wollongong and 120 in Europe is expecting to double the size of its workforce after raising $210 million in equity funding.
Scalapay has quickly become a $1 billion business popular in the fashion industry. It was founded in 2019 by Johnny Mitrevski and Simone Mancini who previously worked in the banking industry.
Mr Mitrevski is based in Wollongong where all the development of core technology is done. And Mr Mancini heads sales and business development from Milan.
Mr Mitrevski chose to base himself in Wollongong because he grew up in the city.
"We also wanted to develop a good relationship with the local development community to let them know their is another opportunity for them to build world class product here," he said.
"Two years ago we started off with just one person in Wollongong. Now we have 30 people and we are looking to get that up to around 60. We definitely have the capability and liquidity to do that. It is just about finding the right people. We have a Linkedin page where developer, product and designer roles have been posted."
Mr Mancini and Mr Mitrevski haven't seen each other since the start of COVID-19 but that has not stopped Scalapay becoming one of the most used payment methods in Southern Europe. It is now used in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Belgium, Netherlands and Austria.
The latest funding will go towards growing the team, operations and new products to support merchants in the luxury, fashion and travel industries.
"The pace of product development has been incredible," Mr Mitrevski said.
"In two years, we've launched and localised Scalapay across six countries, integrated with 3000 merchants, launched Scalapay in-store with over 2,000 physical retailers, launched an App as well as partnering and integrating with two European banks."
Mr Mitrevski said Scalapay's success was an example of how Wollongong was evolving into an internationally recognised tech-hub.
He said when he was at UOW a company called Nortel really showed how it was possible to do global tech from the Illawarra.
"A few of the guys in the team now came from that alumni," he said.
"You can really see from the quality of their work that their mindset is very much global first. We have a strong commitment to Wollongong."
Mr Mitrevski said the latest funding means the Wollongong team can grow from 30 to 60.
"We have ambitions to double it by the end of the year," he said.
Over the next 12 months Scalapay expects to recruit another 80 developers, product managers and designers to take the global workforce from 150 to more than 250.
"While we are the number one buy-now-pay-later in Italy we are also growing in France quite we are breaking the German market as well as moving into Spain," Mr Mitrevski said.
"So this is really about having the funds to grow the team and the business. I think what we have managed to achieve in two years is pretty remarkable."
Scalapay increases a customer's spending power allowing them to buy the things they love without sacrificing quality or taste over price. By spreading the payment over three installments without interest.
Mr Mitrevski said merchants were quick to jump on board in Southern Europe because no one else was doing it in that market when they arrived.
He said it not only resulted in new customers for them but increased average basket sizes by 48 per cent.
Toger Global partner Alex Cook said the company led the investment round because Scalapay had quickly become an important player in European payments and the BNPL sector.
"We are impressed by their product development pipeline and strong focus on merchant success. We are excited to support Scalapay in the next phase of its growth," he said.
Scalapay recently became the official sponsor for Milan Fashion Week as the primary Buy Now, Pay Later platform for fashion merchants.
Brands such as Alberta Ferretti, Intimissimi, Liu Jo, Luisa Spagnoli, Moschino, MSGM and Twinset have also signed up.
"When we were building our first prototype and testing the waters we knew that this was a product that was very well targeted to fashion, accessories and cosmetics," Mr Mitrevski said.
"When we finally decided to launch in Europe we saw that Australia had two very big players (Afterpay and Zip) that were catering for the market quite well.
"So we were looking for somewhere else in the world we could grow. We needed a place that didn't have a buy now pay later offering and we needed a place that was fashion oriented. Milan came up as the number one choice and that is why we decided to launch there."
Mr Mitrevski, who originally studied engineering at UOW, said the most natural progression now was to work with retailers and merchants who have multi geographic locations and ware wanting to expand their offering and service.
"The strategy is to actually follow those merchants to help us open up those markets," he said.
"We are moving into Spain, the UK and US because we have some really strong partners who are willing to wedge us into those markets.
"The main focus of the business is to help merchants build great customer experiences and the products we are looking to build are ones that solve problems for the merchants. Buy now pay later helps increase basket sizes and customer loyalty."
Mr Mitrevksi said one of the reasons Scalapay grew so quickly during COVID-19 was it helped provide online solutions to retailers who previously relied on foot traffic.
"We happened to have a great product that really hit the mark," he said.