According to our guest, Plooto Co-Founder & CEO, Hamed Abbasi, that's the percentage of North American businesses that still use cheques daily to make payments.
In today's advanced technological age, that's hard to believe.
Fortunately for bookkeepers, Plooto is a business-to-business payment management platform that makes things easier.
During this interview, you'll learn...
How Plooto works and why it's a powerful tool
How it can be used to teach and impress your bookkeeping clients
Its new features that will make it even more user friendly
To find out more about Plooto, click here.
To get your first 25 transactions for FREE, follow these steps:
1 - Sign up with a Plooto account at this link.
2 - Enter the promo code, PURE17 under "Settings."
3 - If you need help on any of the above, click this support article.
Michael Palmer: 01:12 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is the co-founder of Plooto, which is a fast-growing payment management platform for business to business payments. Hamed Abbasi welcome to the podcast.
Hamed Abbasi: 01:32 Well, thanks so much for having me. It's great to be here.
MP: 01:35 It's great to have you. I am a customer as well, so I have to give that declaration out right now. A little, uh, the small print. I absolutely love the product. So if you hear me gushing about your product, you'll know why.
HA: 01:49 Fantastic. Normally we lost to hear that.
MP: 01:52 Yeah, it's a, it's great. One of the things that I love when we have guests on where I've been able to use their product and you know if I didn't like the product, you'd probably wouldn't be here. So this is great. We've got a great product, great. A great person like yourself and I'm hurt. I'm really excited about learning more about you and your product and what you can tell us to help our listeners grow and scale their businesses.
HA: 02:15 Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I'll tell you a little bit about myself. I actually started my career and, uh, Bank of Montreal, which is a large bank of Canada, um, spent a number of years there. But then I decided that I wanted to start my own company and get into tech. So I left the bank in 2010, um, started a company called Bass Studios. We do that for four years. And then the company was acquired by a large gaming company, uh, just based out of Canada. And after that, I really wanted to solve the big problem and I remembered that when I was at the bank. Um, we don't lose thousands of businesses and one of the biggest challenges they had was managing their payments. They would come in with stacks of checks that they needed to deposit. And so for international payments they had to spend wire transfers, which were absolutely a nightmare to process. And there wasn't really a better way for small and medium-sized businesses to manage this crucial part of their business, which is to get paid and to pay their vendors and suppliers. Um, so we just thought that this is an area that we want to focus and it's a big problem for a lot of people, uh, that we wanted to solve. And that's why we created Pluto.
MP: 03:36 Beautiful. Well, you know what, it's exactly what your product is based on what you've just shared with us. That's exactly why I looked at Plooto is that this whole we have, we deal with different vendors all over the world and, and getting them paid and in a way that's easy to understand and syncs with our QuickBooks online. Uh, it was painful and then all of a sudden someone said, hey, what have you checked out Pluto? So I checked it out and it was literally, it made paying people around the world as if they were literally in my home town, which is just excellent. And it, and once it was done, I mean it took a bit to get set up and they didn't, you know, like it's, there's a learning curve to anything but a very little learning curve. But once we had it set up, now paying those vendors is so simple.
HA: 04:26 Yeah. Nobody started a business to spend their time collecting checks and sending wire transfers. You know, you started a business because you wanted to solve a problem. You saw an opportunity that, that you thought that you want to spend time on to make that process or that product better. And that's why people start businesses. But a big part of running the business is managing your cash flow. And I'm managing income payments, uh, outgoing payments, a reconciliation of having your financials in place so you can make better decisions. But the process for doing that as just so antiquated, we're still using checks. 55% of businesses in North America are still using checks daily. 80% of international payments are done on wire transfers. And in a world where all of your software is in my cloud, in a world where you can press a button and have access to every music record ever made or watch movies in a second on that legs, I just don't understand why payments are just so outdated. So, so yeah, I appreciate the fact that you mentioned that because that's the experience that we're going forward trying to create the same feeling you get when you use Netflix or when you use Spotify right here with Pluto.
MP: 05:51 Yeah, it's one of the other things that come along with payments, the way that it currently is in the marketplace. The past, uh, very little transparency and for, you know, you're sending out money, where's it going? Especially in an internationally, but regardless, wherever you send it when you send it out, it's, it's, you know, it causes may be stress or anxiety, you know, they are, as your vendor may have stress, you may have stress. Is it getting to the right place? You know, you've got to take these codes that nobody really understands what codes, if you need the swift code or if you need it. No, every bank's different. It's crazy. Um, and so transparency is really powerful. And that's what I liked about this solution was that once it was all set up, we could see exactly where the money was when it was going to be where it was gonna be. And it just brings communication and transparency on that level of the, of that transaction. And then history, right? You can see where it's at. So I think a big keyword there really for me is it changed the way I could see in that transparency of, of this experience. And you spoke of those problems, which it's, it solved it almost instantly.
HA: 07:01 Absolutely. I think if you look at the traditional wire transfers for international play men or when it comes to domestic payments, the regular ACH network in the US or EFT networking Canada, these technologies were all built-in 60s and 70s and they really haven't been updated in the sense they were placed into the system. And so because of that, a lot of the features and tools that you might be looking for as a business owner simply doesn't exist because they simply chance to build that transparency and visibility on a technology that's like 40 years old. Um, so we spent a lot of our time thinking about what does the payment system of the future look like? What is the data that you want to have access to? What is the information that is important to you as a business owner? And we have built those features and capabilities on Pluto. I'm thinking about what the future of payment is gonna look like and, and that what that does is it gives you a lot of the capabilities that your regular manager is never going to be able to offer HA: 08:23 and it really, it is that and, and you're revolutionizing how payments, perhaps you're the leader and how that's going to look in the future, which the future looks bright based on what you guys have built. Now, what I think is cool about this, and I want to talk about a few other things I don't like about the product, but before I do that, I, I w I really want to say for the listener, this is one of those tools that is in your super house superhero belt, right? With your clients. If you help your clients with a product like this, they're going to think you're a hero because they're struggling. It's the owner that is struggling with their payments and as a bookkeeper, as someone's that's helping them bring clarity and transparency to their own business finance and bring simplicity to their own finance situation, this is one of those tools that's going to change the way they do business. And that's, you know, that's what I see is the big opportunity is that not only will every single listener be able to utilize a tool like this for themselves, it's a tool that they'll be able to put in the hands of every single client that they work with and look, grant, you know,
MP: 09:32 Awesome movie. It just, it just makes your firm look better. Uh, utilizing cloud-based applications in one. Uh, I was reading this study recently that said, um, business owners, I actually ahead of bookkeepers and accountants when it comes to the adoption of cloud-based technologies. Um, so if, if I'm a business owner and I have a seed bank and I have hot doc and I have a bunch of other applications that I use when I go to my accountant, I expect my accountant to not only be using that but actually be an expert in these products. So the whole like a psychological shift that is happening, that, um, business owners are expressing these, uh, technological advances to be, uh, available at the accounting firm or I'm at the bookkeeping firm that they are working with. And, and it also helps you as both cheaper accountants, um, to be more efficient and get more clients.
HA: 10:31 Because I did this presentation a few months back at, um, QB connect and I basically said that the role of the financial, um, professional is really changing or it's going from data entry and manual processes to actually building relationships and, and, uh, helping your customers make better decisions when it comes to their business as opposed to the past where it was just, you know, they gave you a shoebox and they're like, Hey, I've been collecting these receipts, deal with it. At the end of the year and file the taxes and then that's that completely, his bad relationship is completely changing. And by utilizing these product-based applications, you could actually free up a lot of time which they can be spent on building the necessary relationships that you need to grow your firm.
MP: 11:22 Yeah, it, it really is a, an exciting time. And it's such an interesting stat that business owners are ahead of the industry because they're, they're the ones that are looking for these solutions, perhaps that that helped them help make their life easier. And often what I'm seeing is that there are all these great tools, but it needs that person that understands the whole picture that can bring it all together and really make it work well. Like when I, I'm not the bookkeeper, when I started, I started using Pluto myself and I brought it to my bookkeeper and the person that works our financial, she's like, okay, well let's have a look at this. And then all of a sudden when she started looking at it, she could see way more of how we could use it and integrate it better. And make it all come to life. And that's why I think a tool like this, and I'm going to guess, and you can tell us a little bit about this, but I'm thinking it's in its infancy. How, how long has Pluto been around?
HA: 12:18 So we are, you'll see the sort of product, uh, and the sophistication that we've developed that we're a very new company with. We released our platform in November of 2015 so coming up to two years now, two years and already it's an excellent product.
MP: 12:31 I imagine you have other things on the, uh, the development pathway, which is, which is going to be exciting. So bringing those tools, I think it's really important to look at something like this and there are lots of different options in the marketplace, but when you have a tool that, that, that really does help a, and I can say it from my perspective as, as an entrepreneur and small business owner really helps me. And from a perspective of the bookkeeper, it's music, right? It's music for doing business. Now I, I'd like to hear your take a little bit on, uh, you mentioned the changes that you see coming in the way people are paying. What, what other things do you see evolving in this area? In the marketplace?
HA: 13:14 Yeah, so definitely cloud-based applications are a big change that's happening and I think, I believe that every single process that you currently have in your business is going to move to the cloud. And at the same time I would say machine learning and on automation is becoming a huge part of a lot of businesses because things that would have taken a long time in the past can now simply be automated with a lot of tools that, uh, that are available in the market. There's just Plooto and many other things. And in terms of machine learning, I think that's a very exciting space to DM. Um, because like we look at our platform, um, as beginnings of, uh, a platform that could do many more things just beyond payments. Because once you use Plooto and you're used to the ecosystem and you're sending payments to your vendors and suppliers, we could actually use that data to offer you a lot of more relevant services that are customized specifically for your business. And that's something that some in the past have been possible to offer it because of the cost associated with customized solutions for every single business. But with machine learning, that's something that can be made available to pretty much everyone.
MP: 14:39 Beautiful.
MP: 14:46 You know, there was something. What's been your recent release, the most recent release with the platform?
HA: 14:52 So the biggest release that we've done in the past couple of weeks, I mean, we, we update the product every night.
MP: 14:58 Ah, I love that. Gets better every day then.
HA: 15:03 Yeah, exactly. We, we, uh, pretty much look at any improvements, anything that we have to make and then it's released on a nightly basis. So pretty much our product is getting better every single day. And so the biggest releases that we've had is we made a lot more countries available when it comes to international payments. We're pretty much gonna cover the glow by the end of the year in terms of all the countries that you can send payments to. We also release credit cards, which is pretty big for us. Customers love points and they want to collect their points and it's probably one of the most requested features that we get is the ability to pay with your credit card. And we have that available on Pluto as well. So if you are a Pluto customer, you can make credit cards available to you and your customers can pay you using their credit card.
MP: 15:52 Exciting. I think that was the one that I had in my mind. I was trying to remember when I saw that, I thought, oh wow, that's really cool. Just another option to be able to get set up with a credit card. I know a lot of our clients want to be paid by credit card and yet they, you know, in the past it was, you know, you needed a merchant account and you need it, all these different things and you needed to set up. And even with something like stripe used, it's still, you know, it's a powerful, amazing back end, but you still need to set other things up to make it happen. Whereas now you've brought this to a very simple way of doing it, making it the process simple. And now you can do credit cards and literally be set up almost instantaneously.
HA: 16:35 Yeah, and I think that's, that's a really good point that you touched on is that with stripe you pretty much need an engineer or developer to be able to implement that into your systems. Whereas with Pluto, we've done all of that work, we've gone all that back end and we've made it as simple as possible for you. So as opposed to the process taking probably a couple of weeks for you to be set up and running. It's just a matter of a couple of buttons and now you can accept credit cards and payments are paid out nightly as well, so you have access to that cash flow immediately.
MP: 17:10 Beautiful. Well, that's a big differentiator as well compared to a lot of the other ones where they hold onto the money for a week and you know, that creates confusion and cashflow is king.
HA: 17:20 Yeah, absolutely.
MP: 17:22 Now tell me a little bit of a, a different direction in my question is you're an entrepreneur, you've been growing your business, uh, you've grown and exited one business and you're now growing another. What's this journey been like as a business owner?
HA: 17:39 You know what it is. I absolutely love what I do. So for me, I don't really look at it as a job or something that I have to do. It's once you're an, you're always an entrepreneur. I remember when we sold our last company, I thought that, do you know what, what it is? I'm just going to take them probably a year or two off and just enjoy my time off. And my girlfriend and I went to Spain for two weeks and believe it or not, I was so bored in the second week, I was like, I have to do something. So as soon as I came back, I started another company I met with my co-founder and we started to brainstorm. Um, so the journey, you know, it's, I'm saying running a business is really like a roller coaster. You riding a roller coaster, you have good days, you have bad days, you have successes, you have failures.
HA: 18:29 But as long as you keep your eye on the ball and you think about the longterm vision, then I would say it's gonna make it all worth it at the end. Because it's very tough to run your own business. It's, it's very stressful. It's, um, it does a lot of work and long hours. Uh, but, uh, but I think for me it's that vision that keeps me excited about the product and what we're building. And on top of that, the opportunity to help millions of people around the world with our product, that that is, um, that is really exciting. So it's a little bit of everything. You know, I don't think I can explain it until you actually go through at bottom since, um, um, change it for anything else in the world.
MP: 19:16 Yeah, there are lots of, you know, some of the things that you've said, right is there is a lot of uncertainty and growing a business, but a big vision and an exciting vision, uh, is what keeps you on track by the sounds of it, for you and for you. You know, our listeners are bookkeepers, they're people that help people like you, uh, understand and have clarity around the finances, make sure that things are done correctly and done as efficiently as possible and give you as real-time as possible data to help you make better business decisions. From your perspective, how do you see that end of your business and how anything to share with us about, you know, how our audience can better relate with people like you?
HA: 20:03 It's a, it's a great question. I think, um, there's a lot of information out there that I think once you're starting on this journey, it could be really overwhelming because it just feels like you have to know everything and things are just moving really, really fast in all different directions. But at the same time, I would say, you know, one thing that we've done is to consolidate a lot of these lack of information or I guess the feeling of overwhelming and we've tried to consolidate it with our products so you don't have to go to a lot of different places and different areas to know what you have to know in order to relate to, um, uh, an entrepreneur like me. And so I would say, I don't think I have a good answer for you on that.
MP: 20:55 I think, well, I what I'm, what I'm hearing from you is that simplicity, right? Because you're fast-moving, things are constantly changing. You know, I can just hear in the story that you've told us, right? You're going to want sound bytes of information. You're not gonna want to know every single detail about every single thing. You're going to want to know what is the high level, what have you done, what, why is this good for me? And you know, if that's it, that's great. Let's move on because you're, you're moving so fast and you're always just like you, you sold the story of yourself being on vacation. Right? Week two, I'm bored, right? So, you know, many people would say, oh no, you should have stayed another week. Third Week. You'd feel great. But that's, that is a berry. I think an important distinction is that entrepreneurs are running at really high octane, a lot of them. And so sound soundbites, very quick. This is what we've done for you. This is why it's valuable to you so that you are not a distraction. You're not in noise. You're not a disruption if you will. So I love that the way you've said it, and, and I kind of caught you off guard there with that question, but I think you answered it.
HA: 22:07 Yeah. Yeah. Think because he's good at keeping things simple. It's a very, very important at Uhm, because entrepreneurs are just so busy with their own work and what their home buys and um, and if I can just, you know, have um, our team just give me a, be a helping hands and, and teaching simple, then that's going to be very beneficial to me.
MP: 22:37 So coming back to Plooto, what do you see? Do you, can you give us any kind of indication as to what's to come? You mentioned a few things that you might be looking at. What's on the horizon?
HA: 22:50 I appreciate that you, this is something we literally think about on a daily basis. Just like what's matched, what can we do for our customers? What we are seeing in the market is a, on, I believe you referenced this as well, is that there's a lot of new apps, a lot of new tools that are coming to the market that all do a little bit of this. And a little bit of that I'm kind of, it could be very overwhelming. She bookkeeping to me maybe or the accounting to me and maybe because it's just moving so fast and so many new things are happening. So for us an opportunity is, and this is something that we've built from day one in our product, is we're trying to remove that app the team did that you would experience once you go to the app store and see how many tools are available by providing you a single place for all your financial-related activities. Um, so really that is what we are going to be focusing on and try to make sure that you never need another platform when it comes to your financial activities that, that Pluto becomes the only platform that you go to for anything financial related when it comes to your business. So that's really how we think about the future as we're, we're trying to keep it simple. We're trying to make the experience unified, uh, and also eliminate that app fatigue completely by providing one single application for everything.
MP: 24:15 Beautiful. I'm excited. I think what you have right now is a mindblower. I've shown it to a few of our clients, to bookkeeper clients that, uh, that once they saw it, they're super excited about it and they're just digging in to learn more about it and they all see the possibility of what this, this app in its current state can do. So I think it's for, for you, the listener, you have to try this thing. You, you really need to go and we're going to have a link on the post-Sophia, scroll down there and click on the link to our website. Go and click on this link, get a trial, start downloading it. Now I can't remember if it was a trial. I believe it's like you just go and sign up. There's no payment or anything. Am I correct?
HA: 24:58 Yeah. So one of the main things about Pluto is that we're not, you know what I called traditional staff's business, which, which, you know, you had to pay a licensing fee, then you'll have to pay a monthly fee for every single user. We're trying to remove and eliminate all those headaches. So Plooto is absolutely free. It doesn't cost anything to set up an account and you only pay when you'd use the product on a per-transaction basis. And we don't. And when you don't use a product, you don't pay for it, which is which, which is what made it so easy for me to make that choice and go in and check it out.
MP: 25:26 You know, when they have the cost or a payment, you have to do a bit more evaluation. So it really was an easy way for me to evaluate it. And, and I'd used other products and this turned out to be just absolutely easy to use and, and effective. So go check it out. It definitely will be, I think one of those apps that everybody's going to be talking about at every single conference and how it's changing the way they do business for themselves and for their customers. So super exciting. Hamed anything else that you'd like to share with us about your product or what you see coming or exciting things that you've got on or any kind of promotions at all would be, would be great.
HA: 26:09 Yeah, absolutely. We have promotions, we first 25 transactions are free, it's on us. Uh, and, and that's our gift to your lesson. So if they use a year late, they can just send us a quick email and we can provide them with 25, three transactions to get started. And then on top of that, if you are an accountant or bookkeeper, your clients also get 25 free transactions as well. And at the same time platform does a cost. Everything I think the best advocates for this is just for you to go and use and see it for yourself.
MP: 26:45 It's absolutely zero risks. The only thing you're risking is your time to have a look. And I can tell you, and I can tell you from the people that I've worked with that have used it, that is there are absolutely zero risks. This is all the opportunity. And I'm so pleased to be able to have someone like yourself on the podcast who's not only a fellow entrepreneur and small business owner like our listeners, uh, but as well providing a super tool to help business owners be more successful, save more time. And get to what it is that they really, truly are passionate about. Just like you how I'm at, are passionate about changing the way people transact in business around the world. Every one of our listeners has their own vision and this is going to help them get there faster.
HA: 27:31 Absolutely. I couldn't agree more.
MP: 27:34 Yeah. Well, it's been great. I have a sneaking suspicion that we're going to have you back to talk more about what's going on. It sounds like you're just at the beginning of a, of an evolving product, so I'm loving it and I love to have people like yourself back on the show in the future.
HA: 27:50 Fantastic. Looking forward to that and thanks so much for having me.
MP: 27:53 Absolutely. Hamed. Thank you and that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com
MP: 28:09 until next time, goodbye.