Hello to Canada’s SaaS Community,
Building a two-sided marketplace is difficult by itself. It gets even harder when one side of the marketplace is enterprise customers. Yvette Wu knows this complexity well with her company, Yield Exchange. But she’s thriving—and most recently won the SAAS NORTH 2022 PitchFest. Speaking with SAAS NORTH, Yvette explained how she builds trust with enterprises despite leading an early-stage startup.
- Anticipate and work around enterprise risk and regulatory concerns before trying to get sales meetings.
- Start every meeting with curiosity—learn about the other person and their challenges before talking about your solution.
- When building a double-sided marketplace, highlight the friction you remove for each party on top of the value you can deliver.
Despite leading an early-stage startup without a significant brand–and not having a startup exit to her name–Yvette Wu has built significant relationships with large financial institutions for her GIC marketplace Yield Exchange while enticing small businesses, municipalities, and startups to use the platform as well. Speaking with SAAS NORTH, the 2022 PitchFest winner explained her approach to building trust with both enterprise clients and small entrepreneurs.
When Yvette and her co-founders launched Yield Exchange, their goal was to provide depositors–often non-profits, small businesses or municipalities with extra cash on their balance sheet–better returns through Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs). With her banking experience, she knew the GIC process was time-consuming but essential; these low-risk investment vehicles were the perfect place for organizations to hold cash in the short term.
But Yield Exchange is a two-sided marketplace; if small businesses were the demand side of the equation, large financial institutions offering GICs were the supply side. That caused a major potential problem for the fledging startup.
“There is risk [for large financial institutions] to partner with a fintech, especially from a regulatory perspective,” said Yvette.
Yvette realized the only way to overcome risk was through building trust. In this case, she “hacked” the trust-building process by doing everything possible to remove the risk for financial institutions before trying to get sales meetings. For example, the company doesn’t hold customer funds, meaning there is no fraud or deposit fiduciary risk. Yvette also invited regulators to review and provide feedback on her platform, even though it wasn’t legally required, so she could show financial institutions that she took their concerns seriously.
These changes affected how Yvette and the team built their product, creating a lot of additional work. However, it made it possible for Yvette to confidently tell financial institutions that she could overcome their risks and concerns.
“We're really proactive with, ‘what are the barriers for them to partner with us?’ and let's knock these barriers out of the way,” said Yvette.
Trust is relationships
Adjusting your product to meet enterprise risk and regulatory minimums is critical, but it won’t seal the deal. What really does, said Yvette, is relationships.
When Yvette is talking to financial institutions to bring their offerings to Yield Exchange, she has to overcome the classic marketplace chicken-and-egg problem: large institutions don’t want to put offerings on the platform until there are depositors, and vice versa.
To overcome this challenge on the supply side, Yvette starts every conversation with “a really curious mindset.” She said the best way she’s ever found to sell is not by pitching someone or claiming you have the best solution.
“It's so important to stay curious and open to allow for a true kind of discovery type of call to happen,” said Yvette.
Yvette said she’s also not scared to bluntly ask for feedback throughout discovery conversations. Not only does this help her grow as an early-stage entrepreneur, but it gives her specific data on what issues she needs to address in order to sell.
“So when we gain these insights, I actually have an Excel file where I map the contention points,” said Yvette. “Then I see the emerging themes and then I can go back and figure out, how can we either address it, or maybe it's a timing issue.”
The demand side–municipalities, SMBs, and startups with extra cash–might buy into the concept of buying GICs, but the challenge remains convincing them to trust Yield Exchange.
To overcome this challenge, Yvette builds trust by leveraging other people’s networks. She shared one go-to-market example: the platform partners with Fractional CFOs who might work with a variety of companies at once. Not only does this provide a one-to-many type of marketing effort, but Yield Exchange benefits from the trust already built between the Fractional CFO and their clients.
“It’s coming from a trusted partner versus just us coming in cold,” said Yvette.
Building trust with SMBs and municipalities also means delivering additional value. Yvette shared the example of a major municipality that has millions of dollars to invest in GICs. Finding, comparing, and negotiating GIC rates is a painful and time-consuming process, one that can take hours for each deal between back-and-forth emails or calls, and then tracking all the info manually using excel. That’s where Yvette hopes Yield Exchange can help: the platform empowers depositors to put out their requirements to any financial institutions on the platform they want to engage with and get responses quickly–saving dozens of hours of admin time. On top of that, there is no obligation to invest through Yield Exchange, so there’s no barrier to giving it a try.
Making life a little easier and saving time is a key way that Yvette said Yield Exchange delivers additional value to depositors on top of finding good GIC opportunities. And for an early-stage company, being able to offer as much value as possible is critical; they don’t have huge resources to launch brand campaigns, so they have to compete on value alone for the near term.
“I'm the only marketing and sales person on the team,” said Yvette. “So I would say my secret sauce is I genuinely love meeting and connecting with people—it goes beyond the business deal. Establishing real genuine relationships and my desire to add real value to my clients, I believe, has fueled our growth.”