Leveling the Payments Playing Field with Austin Mac Nab of VizyPay | Soar Payments LLC
Austin Mac

Leveling the Payments Playing Field with Austin Mac Nab of VizyPay

Not all businesses are created equal, which means smaller and mid-sized companies are often underserved and overlooked. In this episode, we spent some time chatting with Austin Mac Nab the CEO of VizyPay about leveling the payments playing field.

Payments & Fintech Insights In This Episode

  • The reasons rural America is often resistant to technological advances.
  • How disrupting a space can look many ways, not always about building superior tech.
  • The power of transparency inside and outside of a company.
  • The importance of advocating for small businesses and putting people above profit.
  • And so much more!

Episode Transcript

Heather: Hi, everyone, welcome to PayPod. I’m your host Heather Bodie and today we’re gonna be talking about our favorite topic, payments, payments, payments. Joining me is Austin Mac Nab, CEO and founder of VizyPay, a company revolutionizing the payments industry by offering payment technology solutions to level the playing field for small to mid-size businesses. Austin, thanks for joining us.

Austin: Thanks for having me. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day as well to connect with me and help us tell our story.

Heather: Yeah, so tell us about you. How’d you get into fintech? We wanna know everything that is Austin Mac Nab.

Austin: I’ve been in this industry of payments, fintech, honestly, my whole adult life. This industry actually found me when I was about 18-and-a-half. I turned 38 this year. The time has flown by like crazy. I’ve worked for three organizations in my career. One I happen to own today and being CEO, and then two others previous. Back when I was 18-and-a-half, I literally put my resume online, back in the day, and a payments company called me. And they were looking for 1099 independent contractors to go door to door and sell payment processing, non-cash payments to small business owners in my area. It was fully commissioned. In all my life growing up, my mom was like, “Get a good job, a good job pays well. Don’t work in a factory like me, your whole life.” At that point, I was getting paid a salary. I thought that was great money. And so I was hesitant initially to get in the business at that age.

And then literally three weeks into the payments business, I quit my full-time job and I went head first into payment processing. And then the owners of that company were on the back half of their noncompetes, they just sold it, which I didn’t know at that time, and then I found out later on. And then they moved onto another company, and then they called me out of nowhere and said, “Hey, we need you to replicate yourself, but from an executive sales director level at our company, here in basically San Francisco area.” And I was in Iowa at that time. So, I picked up my family, we moved out there. I spent 11 years of my career watching them, you know, grow as an organization and sell collectively, I think for $800 million when they kinda exited what was of value. I was the number two employee, they ended up being over200. And I learned a lot of things to do in the payment space, in the fintech space. And I also learned a lot of things I don’t like and what I wouldn’t do if I ran a company. So, I decided to end my contract with them before they fully exited, as they were kind of progressing to sell out. And I decided to start VizyPay in early 2017. And here we are today, you know, individuals like you want to talk to me, which is pretty cool.

Heather: Isn’t that exciting? I feel like my career has taken a lot of twists and turns. And actually, I graduated from the University of Iowa.

Austin: Oh, wow.

Heather: So, I know the state of Iowa quite, quite well. And I’ve found that, just in the past few years, I’m about the same age as you are. And folks start to reach out and wanna talk to me about my career path and find out what that looked like. And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. I just said yes to lots of stuff for a bunch of years.” But it is cool to sort of see that change, that shift into that point where people are like, “Yes, we wanna know how you got where you are.” So, thanks for giving us a little window into that. Are you from Iowa, originally?

Austin: No, I’m actually born and raised initially in San Diego, Southern California. And Iowa right now… We’re in Waukee, which is kind of the suburbs if you would.

Heather: Of Des Moines, right?

Austin: Yep, Des Moines. And then our corporate office is here as well. And, yeah, I love Iowa, great place to raise children, good hardworking individuals here in our state. Believe it or not, we actually have paved roads and airports. And most people don’t think that when they think of Iowa, we’re actually a real state and city. And, well, we have a lot of good talent here. So, I’m excited to grow VizyPay, and I’m excited to raise my family here as well, so.

Heather: Yeah, it’s a great spot. So, one of my core values is around candid conversation and also transparency. And I feel like from going to your website and learning more about VizyPay that that transparency seems like a core value for you too. And you seem to be taking on these sorts of industry dinosaurs to target these underserved businesses. Can you talk to me a little bit about that and why that was the goal for the organization?

Austin: Yeah, absolutely. Our niche market is rural America. Believe it or not, Des Moines is too big for me. Rural America, think of places like Deep River, Iowa, or Atlantic, Iowa. I mean, think about all these small places, not only here but across the United States. I truly believe, and this is based on just my experience in the industry for over 18 years now is rural America is the most underserved but the most overlooked because bigger companies, bigger players that either have tons of outside investment, they want them to make our lives quicker. They focus on bigger towns, bigger cities, which are rightfully so. I totally get it. We can put people on the moon today, but we can’t get someone in rural America to have non-dial-up internet, right?

So, it’s crazy to think that. And then with the big human space, with, you know, the size of society slowly but surely, maybe not in our lifetime, sliding away from cash and going to non-cash payments, these small rural areas are left with older technologies. And when they are presented with new technologies, they’re way to robust, it’s not simplistic enough, which they don’t need, or the cost is well past where they need to be spending. So, we have built technology and we’re providing options for these owners to level up kind of get to the next step in technology when it comes to payment processing, and do it in a way that gives them options.

And that goes into kind of transparency, what you just mentioned. We have three core whys as a company, and we make every business decision off of it. The first core why, you mentioned disrupting a space full of dinosaurs. Disrupting a space is not always building out the greatest technology. Disrupting a space sometimes happens to how you represent the industry you’re in. So, our number one is culture. Company culture comes before our clients, it comes before our sales partners, because we need to get our internal company culture correct to better serve our clientele. So, at our organization, over 57% of our company is minorities, which, if you live in Iowa, that’s a harder thing to accomplish. In our industry, that is unheard of. And then over 25% of our staff are women. And then 95% of our staff actually come from outside the payment space.

So, we actually look for people that don’t come from the payment space, we want to teach them the payment space. And I think our industry lacks diversity, I think it lacks thinking outside the box to bring outside talent in. And that’s what we wanted to do. And that’s allowed us to scale. And that’s why culture is first for us because we’ve put all our major focus on that. Secondly, is transparency at all levels, sales partners, our clients, which are our merchants, small business owners, and our employees. Good, bad, or the ugly, if you’ve got a question, we want to be transparent with it. I think it’s very important to teach everyone the ins and outs of payment processing, regardless of if it’s a fee you don’t want to talk about or not. That’s why we posted online. And we talk about those things to our clients. And that motivates and builds confidence in our staff, you know, our fight is for the small guy.

And then lastly, is being the voice to small business owners in rural America through simple technology with more options and excellent customer service, 30-seconds-or-less hold times, transparency, and options to eliminate what they pay for processing. And basically showcase to them what the big boys, which is, aka, the big towns, have already, they’re fighting for… You know, it’s a rat race to zero in big towns. But in smaller towns, they’re getting absolutely pummeled when it comes down to what they pay for processing. And there needs to be someone there to have their back. And we may grow slower as an organization because we did bootstrap our company, and we may grow slower because we are dealing with smaller volume accounts in rural America because they don’t have the population or the volume that’s flowing through like Chicago, right?

So, we’re willing to do that to kind of niche out our market that almost makes us untouchable when it comes down to attrition because it’s hard to go into a market when all these small rural areas are taken care of and just switch over when you have great support and you have fair pricing, transparent pricing, and technology that is not so overbearing that you just wanna literally break it with a sledgehammer because you don’t know how to use it. So, company culture, transparency, and being the voice of small business owners are our three whys.

Heather: Can you pull back the curtain for us a little bit on how that business model functions? I mean, you’re talking about that slower growth model, more transparent fees, and it sounds like lower fees than your competitors because you said that the folks that you’re serving were getting pummeled by competitors, how does it function? What is your growth strategy? What does the business model look like? And what’s the sustainability?

Austin: Well, we have a three-prong approach to our business model. So, we have an inside sales strategic partnership group that focuses strictly on bringing inbound leads from rural America. I mean, we can’t touch every city in America because we’re too small right now, right, we’re five and a half years deep. And that’s their focus is to come up with strategies to bring leads to our doorstep from rural America to help them out, especially if we can’t have a live body reach them. Secondly, we have 1009 independent contractors throughout 50 states. We have clients in all 50 states, and they basically are independent contractors that are physically in these areas to work face-to-face with these clients and help them out.

And then we have a W-2 channel that we actually just invested $1.5 million into earlier this year to put an additional 15 people in rural America throughout the Midwest that are W-2 and employees of our company along with backing them up with support staff here at our organization inside for customer service tech support, assuming that increase in sales, which we have seen. And we invest a lot of time and effort doing that. And why I mentioned slow growth is, we’re in year five and a half. If I did what the big boys do and the dinosaurs in our business from day one to today, it would feel like I’m already at year 10, you know, when it comes down to how fast we’ve grown. But unfortunately, we feel like we’re five and half years deep. We don’t feel like we’re 10 years deep.

Now, we’ve been privileged enough to have a lot of great employees, and great vision, and great execution throughout our organization that allows us to sustain and get to the point of getting past bootstrap and really kind of investing money and technology, and investing money into these rural areas when it comes to physical bodies there. But, yeah, we naturally grow slower because we didn’t take PEBC money, we didn’t get multimillion-dollar investments. We did it from me going door to door, literally, when we first started for the first three months, getting accounts myself, all the way to today, where we have almost 100 employees in Waukee, Iowa, of all places in America, so.

Heather: Simple pricing, simple decisions. When you were walking door to door in those early days, did you experience new customers, new clients, having that no-brainer, “This is a simple decision kind of moment. Of course, I’ll move over to VizyPay,” or was there some roadblocks or some challenges along the way?

Austin: I think the simple pricing, simple decision, the simplicity of payment processing, believe it or not, I’m gonna mention, although we compete against them, is Square. They did a very good job of creating technology and a pricing program back in the day, which they’ve changed now since then. That was simplistic. People understood it. So, no matter if it was a high cost or not, they would buy into it. And they kinda opened the eyes that this industry can be simplistic, right? And then when I was going to door to door, I made it just as simplistic. But the difference is, you have me, you don’t have an email or a phone call away. And number two is I showed them a way to do it the exact same way but at a much, much lower cost. Because we do cap and we regulate our whole sales force on what they can and cannot charge.

Most people that we view as competitors in our industry, there is no cap. You know why? Because there’s no regulation to what they can and cannot charge. So, they go out there, and it’s the wild, wild west. If I think Heather knows a lot, you’re probably gonna get great rates. If I think you don’t know a lot, you’re probably gonna get high rates. Well, we don’t wanna think that way. That’s old-school mentality, and we don’t wanna set our small business owners up, which by the way are the backbone of our country, not to mention after what we went through with COVID. We don’t wanna set them up for failure. And the only way to do it is set them up that they know what their bill roughly is gonna be every month without worrying about it going up, or annual fees, or adding extra service fees here and there. And they get blindsided by it because they’re not CFOs and they don’t have a $150,000 CFO that work for George’s Auto Repair in Deep River, Iowa, he’s the man of all trades. Or the young lady that owns a chiropractor place, she does everything, you know, in these own places.

So, we wanna be the advocates of owners in ways that most people never are worried about profit than they are worried about the people that they’re profiting from. And I think that’s problematic because this industry, you can be filthy, filthy successful and rich in the payment space. It’s so easy to make money in our space. But the hardest thing is to do it the right way. And I think that’s where people get blinded. So, we have put tons of checks and balances in place, believe it or not, for even guys like me to never get to that level because, you know, money changes people. And today, I can make tons of money but I choose not to. I choose to put money back in technology, into rural America, into our employees. And we put a lot of checks and balances to hold guys like me even accountable, which most companies would never wanna do, so.

Heather: You quickly mentioned someone’s auto repair shop or a chiropractic clinic. Do you have a specific anecdote or a moment that you could share with us where you…maybe one of your customers shared with you what an impact or how important it was to them that VizyPay operates in the way that it does?

Austin: Well, yeah. I mean, you know, auto repair, I think tons of stories across the country. We have, you know, business in all 50 states now throughout our five-and-a-half years of VizyPay. But the main thing that we hear from our clientele is, “I know what my bill’s gonna be. You guys pick up when I call. You service me when I’m down, when the machine’s down. When I call, it’s 30 seconds or less hold time, I get a human being literally in the Midwest that is helping me out and talking me through my situation, my issues.” And even as far as, “Man, when even contemplate changing from VizyPay because I get a smooth sales man or woman come in here and talk to me, I just Google their company and then I Google VizyPay. And when I google VizyPay, every single time I do it, it’s five-star reviews. You guys are on top of the world when it comes down to servicing and taking care of your clients and doing the right thing by them.”

And social media and technology in that realm of social media is so underused in our business. And there’s one glaring reason why, most people don’t wanna do what you just did earlier, which is peel back the curtains. So, let’s hide behind the scenes, let’s not show people what’s going on. And they’re not a fan of reviews and we wanna, we thrive from them because our business owners speak for us. I can’t talk to every owner in America, but every owner in America can Google us and they can definitely get talked to by who’s talking about us. And I think that’s a key separator between us and a lot of our competitors. We’re not afraid to be loud, we’re not afraid to speak from the highest points of the mountain and tell people how dirty this business is because we wanna basically put our money where our mouth is. And I think that shows it through what you can see and, you know, research on us.

Heather: As both the founder and working inside the business as the CEO, prioritizing the people, and you said your three why’s, and culture takes a large amount of investment, not just in capital but also in time and energy, which I think, a lot of times, like we were talking about competitors just sort of trying to get to that bigger bottom line. Can you talk to me about some of the ways in which that investment in people is challenging?

Austin: It’s challenging because you have to learn how to make time and be efficient with your time when it comes down to getting to know your people. The biggest mistake I think leaders make is allowing just their downline to get to know their downline that gives their downline. Me, there’s a couple things I do to hold myself accountable to making sure that I’m involved. The first thing is the interview process. There’s not one employee that’s been hired at our organization that has not gone through Austin Mac Nab before they walked in our doors to work. And there’s a couple things I do during those interview processes to hold myself accountable to know their story. Because I think when you know someone’s story, you feel more attached to them to a certain extent.

So, for example, what I do, you can’t count how many resumes I’ve thrown in the trash when they hand it to me during an interview process. I won’t look at them. I will not prejudge a book by its cover. And when I sit down with these individuals and I have a discussion with them, believe it or not, I don’t really like, and I think it’s really boring, to talk about strengths and weaknesses and their experience. I don’t really care. So, the first thing I say to them when they sit down with me in an interview process is this, and let’s pretend you were interviewing with me, I would say, “Heather, listen, this is gonna be a very unorthodox interview. What I want you to do is whatever you learned in college at Iowa and whatever you learned in high school, whatever corporate job has ever told you about interviewing, throw it out the damn door because I don’t want that person talking to me today. I want you talking to me today.”

Heather: Yes.

Austin: Then I say, “I want you to tell me a story now. And as I talk you’re gonna think about the story. And let me go and outline the story for you. What I wanna know is this, I wanna know all about you between the ages of zero, as far as you can remember, all the way to adulthood of 18. Not one day above 18 do I wanna know about you? I want you to tell me about your mom, I want to tell you about my dad, I want you to tell me how you grew up. Were you a rich kid? Were you a poor kid? Did you bully kids? Were you the one getting bullied? How was your relationship with your brothers and sisters? What town did you grow up into? Tell me about elementary school, tell me about junior high, and tell me about high school.” And you know what I do after that? I shut my mouth and I let them speak.

And when they start speaking and they start getting into it, at first, they stumble across the world’s like, is he just really like not asking me about my strengths and weaknesses? You know, they’re so thrown off by the question. And I’ve had countless people cry in the interview process, get emotional in our process because they start talking and digging deep about their relationship with their parents, their relationship with their mom, their dad, or maybe they weren’t around. They start talking about the goods and bads of how they grew up. They start talking about elementary and junior high school. And what happens is all the barriers and all the walls that are up when you’re in an interview process, they start dropping and they start really being genuine about, maybe they love the mother to death.

And you find that out during the interview process, and they start talking about it and they start high tuning their voice. Then I start talking more about their mother because I wanna know genuinely how they feel, and can they talk in sentences, and what do they get passionate about and really kinda dig deep into their life when they grow up because I believe what their experiences are growing up, and I believe what they witnessed growing up makes them who they are as an adult today, no matter how many jobs they’ve had. What are they choosing to do as an adult now? What career path they wanna go to? And it helps me dictate that attitude. It helps me dictate maybe potential work ethic. And it really helps me dictate, does that person have grit? Do they have a chip on their shoulder? And those are the individuals I wanna work around, and those are the individuals that are here at our organization.

And then once I get on all that, then I say, “All right, I’m gonna ask you the boring questions now, what’d you do before this?” And I would ask just that to ask because I know they probably are so prepared to tell me about it. I ask, and we talk about it. We talk about the day in their life, what they did, and all that stuff. And then, by the way, I know I’m gonna hire someone pretty quickly by their story because that really tells me a lot about them. So, then when they come to our organization and they decide to work with us and we decide to partner together, work together, I remind them one thing, you are not on the journey of Austin Mac Nab and VizyPay, we’re on your journey. And that’s a big difference.

So, we are gonna do what it takes to make sure that you come to work and you level up. We’re gonna make you uncomfortable, we’re gonna hold you accountable. We’re gonna push your buttons, but we’re gonna make sure that you’re the best version of yourself. And, you know, by the time you leave here, regardless if it’s for…you know, you move out of state, you get another job or whatever it may be, we’re gonna help you build your brand. We’re gonna do all these things for you, and all we ask is hard work and communication, have a great attitude, and then come to work every single day and have a great work ethic. And that’s all we want from people.

And believe it or not, when you’re genuine about all that, number one, money, all of a sudden, doesn’t matter as much anymore. All of a sudden, there’s value and there’s buy-in of what you’re trying to accomplish. And then that’s where we get a lot of our creativity from. I am not the smartest guy in the room anymore. I don’t wanna be. Now I have a lot of people here that are much smarter than me, but I know all their stories, and I talk to them every single day. I actually walk around with a snack cart every other day. I fist-bump every employee every morning. You know, I reach out to even our W-2 people in rural America several times throughout a month to make them feel a part of it. So, I do those things, and I don’t have to, by the way. As a CEO of the company, you and I both know I don’t have to do any of that stuff, but I choose to because I want them to feel that they’re partners with a human being, which is me and our organization, than just being a number or a cog in the wheel. And I think that’s where we get a lot of young, hungry talent come in and buy-in and represent our industry in a way that I think it should be represented, so.

Heather: From listening to you speak and from spending the short time we have together today, I would say that it goes beyond them feeling like they are a partner in it. And at least the impression I get is that the authenticity is there, that it actually is a collaboration between you and them under the umbrella of VizyPay for the moment. But it sounds also like when you establish incredible relationships like that, when people do move on, it is less of a heartbreak and more of an excitement for what it is that’s next for them.

Austin: Absolutely. Because the worst thing I could do is ever get in the way of someone being happy or successful, that’d be selfish of me and hypocritical. I wasn’t always like this, by the way. I’ve had my stupidity in my life of being immature and being selfish when I was in my younger years, specifically in my early 20s. And as I got older, I realized it’s very, very important to help other people level up before yourself. Because at the end of the day is this, I believe every day of my life I’m selling tickets to my funeral. Well, let me explain what I mean by that is, I want Madison Square Garden filled up with people celebrating my death when that happens. I don’t want just my wife and kids there. And the difference is, that’s how many people I helped along the way of my journey compared to how many people I took advantage of. And I’d rather it be a huge stadium instead of just my wife and kids if that makes sense.

And once I started realizing that’s the way I wanna run my life, money doesn’t matter anymore. It just matters of watching people buy houses, have children, you know, be great fathers, be great mothers. And think about this, even at an eight-hour minimum day at our office, they still spend more time with us than they do with their own families and loved ones. It’s our obligation, it’s our obligation as leaders to set them up with great habits and them wanting to come back to work. So, when they go home, their kids, their wife, their parents, their husband, they don’t reap the negativity that reaps off of them when they come home to make them a different person when the reality is they’re actually a good person.

So, how do we do that here? By holding them accountable and doing those things. Because all the good habits they create here in our organization, believe it or not, it goes home with them. Being in on time, people are like, “Well, they’re a minute late, we should be easy on them.” No, it’s 8:00 because, you know what, when he decides or she decides to have children, they’re gonna have to make it at that soccer game on time, so they don’t miss an opportunity to watch their kids play. It’s bigger than VizyPay. And that’s why I think I look at it at a different angle as a leader than a typical leader of, “Oh 8:01, write them up. Let’s get them ready to fire them.” That’s not the case. You shouldn’t have that mindset. That’s old-school thinking. You know, we’re in a different world today. That’s little tidbits on some small things of how I think on that stuff. As you can tell, I’m already high-toning shit…excuse my language, high-toning stuff and I’m passionate about what I’m talking about., so.

Heather: You’ve got me excited. I can feel my blood pressure raising with a thousand questions for you. And we’ve already been talking for 25 minutes. Our time is coming to a close. Awesome, we’d love to have you back on the show.

Austin: For sure. For sure.

Heather: Just a couple more for you. So, what’s next with VizyPay, or anything you can let us in on or something that you’re particularly excited about that is on the horizon for the company?

Austin: You know, we are investing a lot of time and money in our technologies for small business owners, internally, to grow out our CRM to kinda manage our sales force. And we plan on going on another hiring list next year to impact more rural Americas with W-2 live bodies to help them out. Super, super excited about that. And I’m super excited to continue to make change within our industry that lacks so many things that I think it needs. I’m half Vietnamese and I’m half white, and I think there should be more diversity in nationalities in our industry, which I think they lack. I think there should be more women in our business, and I think there should be more people in our business that come from outside the payment space. And I think our industry could do so much better doing it because they have the money, they have the power to do it, but they just don’t wanna take action to do it. So, if we could set a tone or an example for them over the years to come, I believe people will be telling stories about us and others will follow along knowing that it actually works. And that’s the story that I wanna tell when my reign, if you would, if it does end at any point down the road, is I want them to look back and say, “That company did it right.” And we did not send anyone to the moon, okay, that was not a technology that did that. It was just thinking differently. That’s all.

Heather: Yeah. And I think even hearing you say we didn’t send anybody to the moon, I think we give a whole lot of credit to moments like that. And we don’t actually give the same level of very much due credit to the important role that payments play in our lives. Transactions are something we all interact with every single day. It’s what powers our businesses, it’s what powers our personal lives. It’s the simplicity of that and the incorporation of technology, that transparency and understanding our finances, that financial literacy component too, not only as a business owner but also as an individual, it’s incredibly important. I might even beg to argue more important than traveling to the moon, but conversation for another day. Awesome. Thank you so, so much for joining us today. If folks wanna get in touch with you or if they wanna learn more about your company, where can they find you?

Austin: We’re all over social media, specifically LinkedIn, but you can always go to vizypay.com. You could find us on LinkedIn, myself on LinkedIn. You could find our company on LinkedIn. We’re very loud. And we utilize social media, probably to the fullest. So, you could definitely find us there.

Heather: Great. Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been a true pleasure.

Austin: Thanks for having me again. I really appreciate it.

Heather: If you enjoyed this episode and wanna hear more, head on over to soarpay.com/podcast to subscribe on your podcast listening platform of choice. That’s S-O-A-R-P-A-Y.com/podcast.

Industry Spotlight


VizyPay is revolutionizing the payments industry by offering a credit card processing model that focuses on powerful payment solutions, real human customer support, and simple merchant services. VizyPay exists to level the playing field for small to mid-sized businesses to accept credit cards and achieve greater success.

Based in Waukee, Iowa, VizyPay provides payment technology solutions for businesses across the United States. We support retail and restaurant locations with physical terminals and POS integrations, online businesses with shopping cart capabilities, professional service businesses, and on-the-go merchants with mobile payments. Beyond that, we make our pricing model simple, easy to understand, and with full disclosure at every level.

Simple Pricing. Simple Decisions.