Wharton FinTech
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Wharton FinTech

Matan Bar, Co-Founder and CEO of Melio — Building a Unicorn by Prioritizing the Journey

In this episode, I’m joined by Matan Bar, Co-Founder and CEO of Melio, a platform to streamline and simplify B2B payments for SMBs.

Matan and I cover a range of topics, including:

The Thriving Startup Ecosystem in Israel:
Matan credits three main reasons for Israel’s incredible startup environment: early experience in the army, innovating in constraints, and an optimistic culture. Through the army, Matan worked with cutting-edge technology at just 18 years old. By 19 years old, he led a team of 25 engineers. His time in the army provided him with invaluable leadership skills and a network of some of the smartest people in the country. Matan also believes that because Israel is a country that faced “many limitations and constraints” since being founded in 1948, its residents are driven to find creative, tech-forward solutions. Finally, Matan also believes that the optimistic nature of entrepreneurs in Israel makes them “try things without thinking about all the things that would go wrong because we’re focused on all the things that can go right.” He goes on to describe a story of building and selling a group payments product to eBay. At the time of the acquisition, the team had handled 500 users per day, but when asked if they could handle 20 million, Matan didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“Believing in your future self is a very important trait as an entrepreneur because things are always difficult, always complicated and you need to believe in your future self and your future company to be able to handle these challenges.”

Helping SMBs Streamline Payments Through Melio:
When working with SMBs in the United States, Matan was amazed to see how owners would handle consumer payments through the latest applications developed by Venmo, Square, etc. and simultaneously make their B2B payments by cutting paper checks. Matan was driven to bring the same ease and simplicity to back-office payments as PayPal does to peer-to-peer payments. The Melio team also realized that small business owners care more about reducing financial volatility and smoothing cash flow than they do about automation. They decided to decouple the way buyers and sellers move funds by creating a middle account that lets all parties pay and get paid the way they want.

Melio has an extremely flexible product that works across industries — their clients include medical clinics, construction companies, restaurants, and more. They tend to target companies that don’t have a finance team and are therefore relying on an owner or a trusted employee to conduct bookkeeping activities. This cross-industry approach is part of the reason the company was able to achieve a $4B valuation in September 2021.

His Guiding Principles when Starting a Company:
Throughout the process of building Melio, Matan has been highly focused on the journey instead of just the end goal. He believes that “building a lifestyle, building a team, a culture, an organization that you truly enjoy being a part of is the secret to resilience.” Therefore, when founding Melio, Matan focused on two guiding principles: working on something that he cares about, and surrounding himself with people that he liked working with. Throughout the episode, it is obvious how much Matan enjoys working on Melio. Towards the end of the show, I ask him what his ideal day looks like. His answer…

“Spending time with my family in the morning, going to work with my incredible team, and spending time with my friends in the evening”

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Matan Bar:

Matan is the Co-founder and CEO of Melio. Before founding Melio in 2018, Matan Bar was the GM of the PayPal Consumer R&D center in Tel Aviv and led PayPal’s Consumer Peer to Peer Payments Group globally, responsible for over $50B in payment volume annually. Matan joined PayPal through the acquisition of his first company (The Gifts Project) by eBay Inc in 2012.

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About the Author
Anirudh Singh is a second-year MBA Candidate at The Wharton School, where he is part of the Wharton FinTech Podcast team. He has a passion for economic development, venture capital, financial services, and all things FinTech. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, feedback, and opportunities at singhan@wharton.upenn.edu.

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Anirudh Singh

Wharton MBA Candidate, Fintech Enthusiast, Early Stage Investing