Category Archives: Alabama

Birmingham tech firm scores $5M investment

Posted November 14th, 2016 by Birmingham Business Journal

A Birmingham company is poised to capitalize on nearly two decades of steady growth and innovation in financial technology, thanks to a $5 million venture capital investment from Florida-based Ballast Point Ventures.

Prepaid Technologies in October announced the investment, just months after it teamed up with Visa to provide wearable tech payment rings at the summer Olympics.

Though Prepaid believes wearable tech is an industry worth exploring – the company is working on another project with MasterCard and U.S. Youth Soccer – the company’s bread-and-butter remains in electronic payments options like payroll cards, prefunded purchasing cards and incentive programs. The company was founded in 1998 by Thomas McCulley.

“The old-fashioned check processing methods cost businesses a lot of money and a lot of time,” Prepaid President Stephen Faust said. “We’re seeing a huge expansion in corporate purchasing card. These products can be implemented for businesses for very little costs, very quickly. They make a difference to businesses’ bottom line.”

BPV’s investment will allow Prepaid to strengthen their IT capacity, Faust said, streamlining and automating internal process flows to allow staff to work more on client satisfaction and developing product. Prepaid will also add staff and develop their marketing arm.

Faust said the company has benefited from hiring account managers with higher education levels, in addition to banking and finance experience.

“Being able to recruit locally and find talented people to help us move the needle is really exciting,” Faust said.

Faust joined the company in 2008 and began building out their suite of services and technology. The company was expanding around 20 percent annually, Faust said, when McCulley handed over the reins to Faust, who happens to be his son-in-law. Though McCulley remains involved on a daily basis, Faust said he saw potential to grow the business to the next level.

“70 percent of the businesses in the U.S. are still processing payroll checks,” Faust said. “So the opportunity of finding efficiencies there and moving those folks to electronic pay at no cost is a huge opportunity for us.”

Prepaid began to attract venture capital attention, but Faust said he and McCulley felt that nothing seemed like the right fit until they were contacted by Ballast Point. BPV brought “smart capital” to the table, Faust said, because they’d previously invested in a similar company and knew how to take the business to the next level.

“Tommy and I knew it was a no-brainer,” Faust said. “They’re great partners, and we still have control over company to direct it how we see fit. But having that horsepower behind us, with the smart money, made the timing made sense.”

Their Prepaid investment isn’t BPV first venture into Birmingham: the firm recently invested another $5 million into ticketing software company TicketBiscuit.

“We were very impressed with what Tommy and Stephen have achieved to date with no outside capital, and we look forward to working with the entire Prepaid Technologies team as they continue to grow and develop innovative payment solutions for the payroll, loyalty and rewards needs of their clients and partners,” Paul Johan, Ballast Point Ventures partner, said in a release. “Payments and financial technology are areas that are very interesting to BPV given our previous investments in the sector, so we are excited to partner with the talented team at Prepaid Technologies to build a leading payments technology platform in Birmingham. This is a great fit for us given our focus on partnering with rapidly growing private companies with great management teams headquartered in the Southeastern United States and Texas.”

TicketBiscuit Looks Towards Its Next Phase of Growth

What’s next for TicketBiscuit after its $5M funding win?

Posted October 20th, 2016 by Birmingham Business Journal

Birmingham software company TicketBiscuit is looking to a new phase of growth, thanks to a $5 million investment from a Tampa-based venture capital and growth equity firm.

Ballast Point Ventures recently confirmed its investment in the Birmingham ticketing software company, which TicketBiscuit CEO Jeff Gale called an “endorsement.”

“Investors are smart, especially institutional investors like Ballast Point Ventures,” Gale said. “They don’t invest in companies that won’t be good stewards of their money. I take it as an honor to receive that money and go out to put it to good use.”

The deal comes on the heels of funding wins for several other Birmingham companies, a trend local business leaders hope will create a snowball effect and lead to more investor money flowing into the Magic City.

Founded 15 years ago, TicketBiscuit has recorded steady growth and often ranked as one of Birmingham’s fastest growing companies. The company processes more than $100 million in ticket sales annually for customers like music venues, festivals and event centers.

Largely bootstrapped since its inception, TicketBiscuit needed the backing of a good capital partner to push it to the next level.

Echoing a familiar refrain of Birmingham tech experts and executives like Innovation Depot’s Devon Laney and health care startup Pack Health’s Will Wright, Gale said Birmingham companies like TicketBiscuit are hungry for outside capital access like BPV’s investment.

“We’ve got a really great, budding technology ecosystem here,” Gale said. “For the longest time, it’s been about health care and biotech, thanks to UAB and similar companies, but now we’ve got a true high-tech startup community in Birmingham.”

Tech investment appears to be gaining momentum in Birmingham: Shipt recently raised $20.5 million and GI Partners purchased a majority stake in Daxko.

Ballast Point Ventures recently invested another $5 million in Prepaid Technologies, a Birmingham company with major partners like Visa and MasterCard exploring the emerging wearable tech market.

“I’m really proud to have TicketBiscuit following in the footsteps of Shipt and similar companies in Birmingham to help grow this startup community and outside capital,” Gale said. “My hope is that it will get the attention of inside capital.”

TicketBiscuit’s $5 million investment will fund sales force expansion, marketing efforts and new tech development while the company continues to grow its StateChamps app. The company last year rolled out the software suite targeted for high school and amateur athletics.

TicketBiscuit is eyeing a massive opportunity in this market: Gale says high schools represent the largest ticketing market in the country, with some 500 million tickets sold each year.

“By and large, those tickets are paid for in cash, bought by people standing in line 10 minutes before the event,” Gale said.

Gale said high school and amateur athletics continue to use “old school” ticketing because existing modern technology can be too cumbersome and expensive.

Electronic ticketing solutions like Ticketmaster, where you print out your ticket at home and have a bar code scanned at the venue by a door attendant, require back-end support in addition to technology like scanners and employee training.

“It’s difficult to let everyone print their tickets at home if they don’t have this technology at the gate,” Gale said. “Scanners are expensive, flaky, require training and a robust internet connection – high schools don’t have these things.”

TicketBiscuit hopes to disrupt this market with Share and Tear, new technology that puts digital tickets on consumers’ phones. The tickets are authenticated through the StateChamps app: Gate attendants don’t have to validate the ticket any further than “tearing” it in the app with a swipe of the finger. People can also purchase tickets in bulk and distribute them digitally to their kids; no more wrangling families to hand out individual tickets at the gate.

Several hundred schools are currently using the technology across the country, in addition to eight state high school athletics association.

Gale said tens of thousands of people have downloaded the app for use, and TicketBiscuit only plans to grow from here.

“It’s 2016, and it boggles my mind that the largest ticketing market in the country still operates that way,” Gale said. “It’s our mission to change that with StateChamps.”

BPV Invests in Birmingham-based TicketBiscuit

Birmingham tech company lands $5M investment

Posted October 17th, 2016 by Birmingham Business Journal

One of Birmingham’s fastest growing companies has landed a $5 million investment from Ballast Point Ventures.

TicketBiscuit, an online ticketing and event management software company, announced the investment Monday. The company plans to use the funds to “grow its sales force, bolster marketing efforts and develop additional technology products.”

“This investment opens up serious growth opportunities for us,” CEO Jeff Gale said in a release. “Our team has worked relentlessly to build and support cutting edge technology and provide the best ticketing experiences on the planet. With this funding, we will be able to double down on our investments in talented people and bold strategies.

Founded by Gale in 2001, TicketBiscuit company processes more than $100 million in ticket sales annually for customers like music venues, festivals and event centers. In 2015, TicketBiscuit launched StateChamps, a software suite targeted for high school and amateur athletics.

Ballast Point Ventures, a Tampa-based venture capital and growth equity firm, previously invested in Birmingham-based Prepaid Technologies.

Ballast’s Robert Faber will join TicketBiscuit’s board of directors. Faber also serves as board observer at Prepaid Technologies.

“TicketBiscuit’s industry-leading position in online ticketing is a testament to the vision and platform developed by a great team over several years,” Faber said in a release. “Under Jeff Gale’s leadership, the TicketBiscuit team has had great success to date, and this investment dovetails well with our strategy of partnering with talented entrepreneurs who are building high-growth companies across the Southeast and Texas. We are excited to partner with Jeff and his passionate team at TicketBiscuit to continue building a leading technology company in Birmingham. TicketBiscuit represents our second investment in Birmingham in 2016, and we are excited to continue building our network in this market where a vibrant ecosystem of technology and health care companies has developed.”

TicketBiscuit employees around 50 people in Birmingham and Portland, Oregon. The company announced earlier this year it would be relocating from Riverchase Parkway to a new facility off Valleydale Road.

How Prepaid Technologies and Visa teamed at the Olympics

Birmingham’s Prepaid Technologies is playing a pioneering role in the emerging wearable technology market. The company provided back-end support for Visa’s Olympic payment ring program this summer, which Team Visa athletes used in Rio to make purchases and withdraw cash without carrying around a wallet or credit cards.

Prepaid President Stephen Faust describes Prepaid’s role as “quarterbacking”, ensuring Visa’s playbook came to fruition on the field.

“Someone will have an idea, and they’ll bring us in because we can quarterback the whole process,” Faust said. “You have to have a bank, a processor, customer service, systems to check cards and move money around … we can provide that.”

Prepaid is now looking ahead in the wearable scene, partnering with MasterCard for a U.S. Youth Soccer initiative. Faust said the project will simplify money for parents by providing kids with a rubber wristband loaded with enough money to buy a meal or pay entrance to a tournament.

 

This article originally appeared in the Birmingham Business Journal – September 23, 2016 Weekly Edition.

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