The steady paycheck from First National, the benefits, the 40-hour workweek… Why would a fourth generation banker trade that kind of stability for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship – self-funded no less?
“My wife asked me the exact same thing,” laughed Omaha’s Matt Medlock, founder and President of PaySAFE Escrow, Inc., a one-stop, “online closing table” where buyers and sellers can create, negotiate, document and close transactions with financial protection.
“It wasn’t a natural decision,” Medlock continued. “It was one where the idea – and the market validation – grew to a point that it had to be acted on. I wasn’t looking for it, but it found me.”
And now, the concept is resonating with others – a growing customer base and investors such as Ho-Chunk, Inc., an economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
“Ho-Chunk is willing to nurture start-ups and provide corporate resources and capital. They’ve offered us a great deal of operational and administrative support,” Medlock said.
Initially a “bootstrap” operation, PaySAFE launched in 2012, a year after the idea first bubbled up. The company’s growth, Medlock said, comes with the growth of the Internet marketplace.
“People are buying very expensive, high-value goods over the Internet, everything from cattle and artwork to classic cars and farm equipment.”
PaySAFE helps facilitate these big money sales – whether domestic or international – for two unknown parties. In addition to providing that “online closing table,” the company offers an escrow service.
“We collect the buyer’s money and make sure it’s good. Then, we hold it in escrow as a neutral third party until the transaction is closed,” Medlock explained.
He said that starting PaySAFE wasn’t easy; it was a long, hard road driven by a lot of passion and plenty of help along the way.
“The article isn’t long enough to list all of the many gracious people who have willingly offered resources,” he said. “It isn’t capital that’s most crucial when starting a business; it’s the resources of knowledge and expertise in a plethora of fields, from legal to marketing to pricing and tech.”
Location, he said, has also benefitted the start-up.
“We’re very proud — and we put on our website — that we’re from Omaha and Nebraska. It gives us credibility. People are comfortable, at some emotional level, that it’s an Omaha, Nebraska, business and not a foreign or east coast/west coast company they’re dealing with. People have expressed that over and over.”
After working 20 years in the banking industry, Medlock likens the whole entrepreneurial experience to tipping back in your chair, “the excitement of balancing, off-set by the fear of falling over.” He has no regrets.
“The best part is you have the opportunity to execute on a vision exactly how you see it,” he said.