An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Patricia Montesi (co-founder and CEO) of Qolo, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Qolo – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
The problem facing the payments industry is clear: it is a spider web of complexity.
Historically, this spider web was woven out of a tangled mess of connections fintechs needed (out of necessity to the various stakeholders) to make their payments infrastructure work.
Still today, most companies are trying to reengineer or cobble different pieces of their platforms to do what Qolo has built from the ground up. As payments pioneers, the Qolo executive team founded and designed the organization to deliver an all-in-one payments solution to drive the future of business commerce.
What Qolo has done differently from others is created the first processing platform that makes payments belong to a core accounting structure, and this is purely cloud-native, including items such as host security modules.
We built the module with embedded components, but the service protects the components like a piece of hardware, having the same effect as a vaulted hardware instrument. That is a differentiating factor and not a disruptive one. The disruptive factor here is the Qolo story, how we are filling the “fintech gap”.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Qolo officially launched in Spring 2020 at a point in time that was absolutely transformational not just for humanity, but the overall workplace itself. So while there was a lot of global uncertainty as we navigated a pandemic, our core team kept steady and we began to onboard clients and roll out new products.
Immediately out of the gate, it was apparent to our clients and the business community that our team was delivering a different kind of user experience.
Last summer, we completed a successful Series A raise, and have been pleased with the interest from follow-on investors as well.
What does the future hold for Qolo?
We’re just getting started. In our second year alone we realized 300% growth.
We’ve brought on senior hires in finance, engineering, strategic business development, marketing, program management, risk, fraud, compliance, and more. Our employee base has quadrupled in 2021 alone, and we stand at almost 80 employees now.
Our customer base is highly diversified, including both consumer and business focused companies, such as fintechs that aspire to build the next Chime or Bill.com. They’re doing it on Qolo’s platform that powers the next generation of payments.
We expect to keep a similar pace in 2022.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Fort Lauderdale?
Clearly the pandemic has forced many important workforce changes. Professionals have prioritized quality of life, and that has led to many migrating away from the traditional business hubs in lieu of more balance.
CBRE’s 2021 tech talent report recently ranked South Florida number one in the country for its diverse tech-degree graduate pool, with 68% of its graduates coming from underrepresented race or ethnicity groups. We’re also welcoming more and more millennials, and the same report noted an increase in 5.7 percent since 2014. As we know, millennials are an incredibly diverse group of entrepreneurs. It’s exciting to be a part of this new wave.
The Qolo name is actually an acronym in itself: Quality of Life Organization. We care about promoting the quality of life for our people, in our businesses, the economy, and for consumers. South Florida, of course, has not just a burgeoning tech scene but incredible weather to boot. We love it here, and are proud to be expanding our operations in FAT Village.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Take risks, and don’t lose sight of your humanity.
We see Qolo’s client engagement model as a key differentiator. People crave connection. They want someone to listen first before acting. It’s truly the founding reason why we began Qolo- to create the environment to do great work with people we like and respect.
Especially in highly competitive industries, don’t forget to balance your intellect with kindness. Oftentimes, people prefer to do business with people they like and respect.