Cale Johnston of ClickSWITCH

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Cale Johnston (founder and CEO) of ClickSWITCH, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of ClickSWITCH – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

I founded the company in 2015. ClickSWITCH is an enablement tool that allows account holders to easily switch their bank account. We focus on migrating account holders’ direct deposits and recurring payments from an old account to an account at a new financial institution. Our business model is B2B2C, so we provide our solution to financial institutions and they provide our service to their customers/members. We have about 500 financial institutions under contract. We work with megabanks, challenger banks, national and regional banks, and credit unions.

When we first launched, financial institutions were really excited about what ClickSWITCH could do for them and immediately saw value. The prospect of an automated solution that could reduce friction by capturing new account holders’ recurring payments and create sticky, profitable primary relationships was appealing.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

At first, there was some resistance because we were the first company providing the solution and it was a brand-new technology. We started the company about five years ago and at that time, a lot of financial institutions still had on-premise servers while we were on the Microsoft Azure cloud. People were scared of integrations and we were a little too tech-forward. There was no question that the solution was needed at financial institutions, but it took some time getting people comfortable with the cloud, the process, and the security that was required. Today, it is a lot different, and financial institutions are much more comfortable with technology and innovation. It also helps that we are an established and trusted company. Many of our new sales come from peers in the industry that are recommending ClickSWITCH because they’ve had so much success, which is rewarding.

What does the future hold for ClickSWITCH?

We’ve relied on our financial institutions’ feedback to improve our solution, and we still do that today. We are continuing to survey, listen to our financial institutions, and improve our solution based upon the needs of our customers and end-users.

ClickSWITCH’s mission is to empower consumer choice while enabling competitive and profitable financial institutions. We are going to continue to improve our white-label experience and our API capabilities. We’ve been aggressive with our product pipeline and you’re going to continue to see ClickSWITCH innovating in unique ways to reduce friction, automate, and making switching financial accounts simple.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Minneapolis?

The Midwestern tech scene is under-rated. Minneapolis has a very talented and highly educated workforce that isn’t highlighted as frequently as some more prominent cities, but it does seem to be emerging as the tech hub of the Midwest and we’re delighted to be part of that evolution. We are going to continue to see innovation and tech startups emerge and grow into successful and established companies.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

For financial tech entrepreneurs, I’d say focus on consumer experience and on building out a prototype/pilot. Get your product out to the market and be able to continue to adjust. Don’t get set in your ways. Take feedback from your customers/financial institutions and be agile. You could build something very spectacular, but if end-users don’t know you exist or don’t know how to access you, it is a problem. Make sure that your product can be integrated into the banking experience in an elegant and easily accessible way. Determine your identity and stay true to yourself.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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