For far too long, managing employee expenses has been a time-consuming process that requires manual data entry and reconciliation to bridge the gap between business bank accounts and ERP systems. In the absence of an integrated workflow, finance teams use multiple systems to manage credit card and cash payments, and finding receipts. In most cases, they also lack real-time visibility into company spending.
The complexity grows exponentially as businesses expand, especially into new regions. Extra administration required to manage new bank accounts, card issuers, and local accounting systems impedes decision making and negatively impacts revenues and growth. Businesses of all sizes struggle with this, but it can be especially challenging for medium to large enterprises.
Payhawk set out to help businesses overcome these challenges when we founded the company in 2018. We combine VISA company cards, reimbursable expenses, and accounts payable into a single product. Our customers can automate manual processes, maximize efficiency, and accelerate business expansion.
Setting up our first cloud cluster in less than a week
To support growth and attract investment we were keen to launch our solution on a scalable, future-proof IT architecture that didn’t require extensive technical support. This is where Google Cloud made a big impression, especially the user interface and documentation which massively reduces the resources required to set up clusters and put them into production.
I’m a CTO, not a DevOps specialist, but in less than a week I was able to set up a secure, reliable operating infrastructure. This enabled us to fast-track our application development and we were able to issue our first card in just eight months. Our Google Cloud partner, Cloud Office also gave us valuable assistance, guiding us through the deployment process and advising on Google Cloud’s extensive range of solutions.
Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) played a critical role, accelerating the deployment and management of our cloud native applications. We use Cloud SQL as our database while other important tools include Cloud Memorystore, Vision AI, Cloud Storage and Artifact Registry for our wider data storage and application needs. With Firebase we’ve been able to build a notification system for mobile devices.
Another incentive is that most other cloud solutions require add-on services to build and keep your product live. With Google Cloud, all the services that Payhawk needs including logging, metrics, monitoring of resources, and utilization of CPU memory come as standard.
For instance, I was really impressed by Google Cloud’s operations suite, which includes Cloud Logging and Cloud Monitoring. If there are any anomalies in our cloud architecture, we can track and resolve them with minimal disruption to our operations. This also removes the need to invest in an additional observability solution.
Reliability that builds customer trust
Google Cloud also supports Payhawk’s mission to put customers at the center of our organization. Thanks to Google Cloud error reporting and tracking and Google Cloud single sign on, Payhawk’s engineering team can anticipate customer issues and correct them in less than one hour. Trust is everything, and Google Cloud gives us the tools to boost customer satisfaction and build long-term relationships.
As a young business, managing costs is also a priority. The Google for Startups Cloud Program, which includes credits for Google software and tools, enabled us to push the business forward without having to worry about financing our infrastructure, especially in the first year. This gave us breathing room to work through funding, application development, and the onboarding of our first customers.
In addition, Google Cloud gives us confidence that we can grow the business fast. In most months we have seen more than 10% growth — in some cases it’s been 20%. In the first half of 2022, the business doubled in size, but Google Cloud gave us the flexibility to scale our infrastructure, adding storage, memory, and processing power as we onboarded new customers. The pricing model is also generous so that we can grow our revenues while keeping control of operational expenditure.
Since launch we have acquired a valuable mix of customers from startups to large businesses that want to reduce the costs of their expenses programs and increase employee satisfaction. They include ATU, a German automobile servicing company, which has successfully digitized its entire procurement process, and Discordia, a Bulgarian logistics business with 10,000 trucks, which has issued Payhawk cards to all its drivers.
Looking to the future, it’s no exaggeration to say that Google Cloud is a foundation of our business and has given investors confidence in our operations. From a first seeding round of €3 million, early this year we closed a Series B extension of $100 million. This gives us a valuation of $1bn and makes Payhawk the first ever Bulgarian unicorn.
We now operate in 32 countries in Europe and the US, and plan to double our team by the end of the year. It feels like we’ve come a long way since we first started using Google Cloud, and I’m thrilled that we have Google Cloud as a global technology partner supporting our mission to transform expense management and financial operations worldwide.
Payhawk team members
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