Why We Invested in Payabli

Gabriella Brignardello
Fika Ventures
Published in
4 min readJun 25, 2024

At Fika, when building our thesis and conviction around an investment, we constantly refer back to the four “T’s”: (1) TAM, (2) Tech, (3) Traction, and (4) Team. Usually, a company spikes on two of the “T’s”, maybe three, but it is rare to find a company that knocks it out of the park on all four, especially at the seed stage.

Enter Payabli — led by Founders Jo Elias Phillips and Will Corbera. We first got to know Jo over many years through our Operating Partner Matt’s sales leader network and the former ServiceTitan ‘mafia’ here in LA. We then reconnected with Jo and met Will in late 2021 at Money20/20. The more time we spent with the two of them, the stronger our conviction grew, and we knew we’d do everything in our power to show them that we were the best fit investor to lead their seed round (even if it meant driving from the Westside to the Valley in full rush hour traffic).

We’re very glad our commitment showed through, and we were able to partner with Jo and Will two years ago. And today, we are absolutely thrilled to announce Fika’s continued support of Payabli in their $20M Series A funding led by QED Investors alongside our existing co-investors TTV Capital and Bling Capital.

Payabli’s 2024 team offsite in Miami

There are several reasons behind our initial and continued investment in Payabli:

  • Massive market and revenue opportunity (T #1): The growth of embedded finance, specifically embedded payments, is expected to surge over the next 5–10 years. To further quantify: $35 trillion in payments could be addressed annually by independent software vendors (ISVs) worldwide, representing roughly 15% of all payments (Bain & Company)
  • Superior product, both in terms of tech and UI/UX (T #2): Their API-first offering spans pay in, pay out, and pay ops, constantly beating out their competitors — especially in “need-to-pay” verticals (like property management, utilities, education, and government) that require nuanced features/capabilities
  • Clear market pull (T #3): Their persistent momentum is evidenced by the number of customers (60+ and counting!), merchants, and paypoints onboarded, as well as their 3X YoY revenue growth

However, the most important and likely strongest reason is the team, specifically Jo and Will (T #4).

What continues to stand out to us about Jo and Will is not only their wealth of experience but also their relentless hustle and drive to succeed — both of which are truly unparalleled. This manifests itself in the context of sales, customer support, and product — but also in the fact that our expectations are consistently exceeded month over month. But personally, what I admire the most is the gold standard they hold themselves to as the founders.

I had the privilege of delving deeper into this topic with Jo and Will in our latest episode of the Pour Over Podcast. The podcast does a better job than anything I could write of providing additional color on who they are as people — their motivations, role models — but also who they are as leaders to their team. You’ll also get to hear their founding story firsthand (which happened at a club in Miami) — rather than say more, I’ll let you give it a listen.

We strongly believe that brands, merchants, and ISVs of any size should be able to transform payments from a complex and laborious cost center to a meaningful revenue driver that actually enhances their end customer experience. And we even more strongly believe that Payabli’s turnkey solution has made this possible and they have the right to win in the market with Jo and Will at the helm.

Congratulations Jo, Will, and the entire Payabli team on this huge milestone — we are truly honored to be partners with you on this journey of building a category-defining company. We’re excited to see what the future holds and are confident that the best is yet to come!

More About Payabli

Payabli is a full-stack payments platform to help ISVs better monetize their payments volume. The company provides a turnkey white-labeled solution through a single developer-friendly API. With Payabli, software companies can have PayFac capabilities without the heavy lift, administrative burden, and exorbitant cost of becoming a payment facilitator — all while scaling their payments business. Founders Jo Elias Phillips and Will Corbera — based in Los Angeles and Miami, respectively — are industry veterans with 18+ years of payments tech (Co-Founder & Head of Product, RevoPay) and SaaS experience (Head of Sales, ServiceTitan).

To learn more, visit their website or find them on LinkedIn. Payabli is also actively hiring so be sure to check out their Jobs board!

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Gabriella Brignardello
Fika Ventures

Seed investing @ Fika Ventures, Founder @ Mi Casa de Angeles | Previously @ WndrCo, Parthenon