The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Carolina Nucamendi of Waivr
Carolina Nucamendi is co-founder and CEO of Waivr, payments infrastructure for the subscription economy.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. The Fund is a founder collective and early stage firm, by founders for founders.
Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, Disney+, HBO Max, Apple Music, beauty boxes, meal delivery - how many subscription services do you have? Chances are it’s a handful and behind the scenes, the majority of your payments are processing via the card network, a network built in the 1950’s which has high transaction fees for merchants and high failure rates for recurring payments from consumers. Waivr is building payments infrastructure for the subscription economy. They are launching real-time subscription payments, which reduces costs and bounce rates for merchants. They closed a $1.4M pre-seed round and recently opened up beta access to their product.
Co-founder and CEO Carolina Nucamendi is from the South of Mexico and moved to Los Angeles over 10 years ago. She was the former Vice President of Mobile Banking-Money Movement at City National Bank and that’s where she met her co-founder Brenna Curran, who was a product manager at Deloitte working with her on a project. Through a series of iterations, they realized that subscription payments can be very problematic from both the merchant and consumer sides and created Waivr to modernize the way payments are processed.
What value does Waivr provide to customers?
We provide three different pillars of value for merchants:
Lower cost: Waivr processes payments through a hybrid RTP/ACH network, which is a lot cheaper for merchants. We can save a streaming service 30% in processing costs for a $20 transaction or 80% for a $100 transaction. As transaction value grows, so do merchant savings.
Optimized payment cycles: The API utilizes account level data and proprietary logic to determine optimal timing for when a transaction has the highest likelihood of clearing–an optimal billing date–for a subscription. It also verifies funds to avoid overdrawing or bouncing a payment.
Instant disbursement: We're moving money through the RTP network, so it settles with the merchant’s account instantly. So they're actually able to get the liquidity much faster than they would otherwise.
What’s Waivr’s “North Star”?
The subscription economy has really taken over the way we're acquiring almost every single item in our lives: movies, shows, music, household items, groceries, meal delivery services, and even dog food. So when we think about how much that’s changing the way we are transacting, it's just as important for the infrastructure to support this type of societal shift. Our North Star is really to modernize the infrastructure to match the changes in financial behaviors and make it smoother for merchants, which in turn positively affects all of us as consumers as well.
What sets Waivr apart from competitors?
The optimization of payment cycles is something new in the market. Not only do we give merchants access to infrastructure rails that are cheaper and better, but we also add logic from a data perspective to make sure that customers aren’t bouncing a payment and bills are aligned with a customer’s income cycle, resulting in lower churn. We help merchants with their bottom line, which is to reduce costs and retain customers.
What makes you a unique founder?
I would say being an immigrant has helped me so much. I had to navigate my career, start a life in a place where I didn’t know anyone, didn't have a lot of stability, and I was constantly facing different challenges. This really prepared me for being a founder because the experience is very similar. You have to build something from nothing, figure stuff out on the fly, navigate systems, and constantly gain knowledge. I learnt to be very comfortable with unpredictability, to the point that it became second nature, which is key in startups.
Do you have any advice for other founders?
Embrace what you don't know and don’t be afraid to fail. As long as you have convictions you'll figure it out along the way, and failures will always come with new opportunities.
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