Friday, May 30, 2014
A Conversation With Robb Gaynor, Malauzai
All too often, most of the attention in the technology world goes to the flashiest, celebrity-driven or sexy social media companies--while companies building real businesses but which don't have quite a sexy presence are ignored. However, those companies -- particularly in Texas -- have often proven to be the big winners in building long term growth and jobs. One of the more quiet companies, but which has real customers and a very experienced executive team out of Digital Insight, is Austin's Malauzai Software (www.malauzai.com). The company recently raised a $6.5M venture funding round. We thought we'd sit down with Robb Gaynor, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Malauzai, to learn more about the company, the team, and its market.
What is Malauzai?
Robb Gaynor: We're a four year old company, based in Austin, and have 45 employees. We focus on mobile banking for community financial institutions. We have about 265 customers, and have three, primary products, in consumer mobile, business mobile, and what we call enterprise or employee-facing applications. Those are apps used by employees in the branch or in a remote environment. We distribute our product through the channel for about 80 percent of our customers, who come through our partners. Our real differentiation is around innovation, and allows our community financial partners to out-innovate other banks. We have all sorts of examples where our banks and credit unions are doing things ahead of lots of the big banks. Those features include smart apps, such as allowing customers of a bank to take a picture of a bill, rather than having to enter in their billing information. It's all about good usability and making it easy to use. Number two, we have analytics, and pride ourselves on tracking everything in the mobile channel, taking all of that information about mobile banking and how it is actually being used. A lot of banks use survey data and ask questions about how users are using their apps, but instead, we use the actual behavior of those users. The management piece is also important. We call our app a smart app, because it's a combination of application, native code on a device like and iPad or Android phone, and middleware, which is a cloud-based service. That allows our customers to easily do things like update branch data in the cloud, so that anytime anyone logs in they'll get fresh, updated branch information. We also allow for things like what we do with the Greater Texas Federal Credit Union, in College Station, where they can both maintain a brand for Texas A&M for college kids, and another app for their core members. Those are some of the simple examples of manageability and architectural advantage of how we do it. We have cool, smart apps, a good end user focus, and management which helps credit unions, and lastly, great analytics.
What are the backgrounds of the founders, and how did you get into banking software?
Robb Gaynor: The founders all come from the Internet banking space. We came from companies like Digital Insight, which is now part of NCR, where we had 1800 community financial institutions using our Internet banking products. Others of us came from S1, which is now part of ACI. I was a banker in Southern California, working on products for Union Bank. We all worked together most recently at Digital Insight, and got together because we felt there was a gap between the software providers focused on mobile, but were not focused on community financial institutions. Our goal was to be the Digital Insight of mobile apps, for community financial institutions, banks, and credit unions about under $15 billion dollars, that's our market.
What's the biggest problem your customers face in this area?
Robb Gaynor: The most important thing in doing this, is doing it in a secure and compliant fashion. We take security very importantly. There are multiple layers on how we secure apps. Number two, in that area, is compliance. We know what it takes to have a regulatory compliant solution, so that the solution passes muster in an audit. We're a certified data center, we're working with the best security vendors, so that institutions who outsource mobile to us know that things are secure and compliance. Once you do that, you have to make sure you're giving customers applications they like. We have spent a whole lot of time on innovative apps, and do four releases a year. We're constantly innovating and adding new functionality, allowing them to stay ahead of their customers, and make sure we are providing really innovative solutions. We're staying on the cutting edge, so they can be competitive with local providers, other banks, and the national banks they sell against. Lastly, we offer simple things like marketing, allowing our customers to cross sell their products inside an app. An example is, making sure members can sign up for things like e-statements, which can dramatically lower the costs of dealing with and end user, customer, or member.
What are some of the trends you are watching in the industry?
Robb Gaynor: I think one of the exciting things, is end users going mobile only. Right now, some of our banks and credit unions are finding that twelve to fifteen percent of their end users are only on mobile, and no longer use Internet banking. They are mobile only. That means they need to make their mobile apps just as functional as their Internet banking and desktop capabilities, and aggressively closing the major gaps there. We are now 90 percent there to core Internet banking functionality. Some simple examples are the ability to open an account through your smartphone or iPad,onboarding, and more. There's a bank in Philadephia which is the first, virtual, mobile-only bank in the country, and we're powering that capability. It's very exciting, and people are aggressively in that market. It's not Internet and mobile, it's mobile only. That's a very exciting proposition as well.