Payhawk: Creating the Future of Banking
Software companies are forever changing life as we know it. From communication and transport to healthcare services and finance management, our everyday lives are evolving more rapidly than ever, thanks to the tech industry's development.
Experiencing a revolutionary improvement in finance and banking is a grand courtesy of pioneering fintech companies, one of which is Payhawk.
Payhawk is a Bulgarian-based startup that operates in more than 30 countries worldwide, aiming to build the financial system of tomorrow. The company offers integrated banking services in an attempt to allow businesses to manage all of their financial transactions through one system. Payhawk gives businesses their control back by combining credit cards, payments, expenses, money management, and pre-accounting all in one place.
Created by Boyko Karadzov, Hristo Borisov, and Konstantin Dzengozov, here is how the story of Payhawk came to be, and how their ideas made for a long-due change in the world of business.
The Power of Inventing
Payhawk is the brainchild of three young Bulgarian entrepreneurs Hristo Borisov, Konstantin Dzengozov, and Boyko Karadzov, all of whom shared the same vision of creating one extraordinary product that can improve financial management for companies all over the world.
Born and raised in Bulgaria in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the creators all shared the same dreams and passions as children and, as fate would have it, worked in the same company at the beginning of their professional careers.
Boyko Karadzov is a co-founder and chief technology officer of the company. Before deciding on a career in the tech industry, he went to high school in the High School for Optics and Optical Sciences in Sofia where he realized that his affinity and passion lie elsewhere. From there, he then went on to study Computer Science at Sofia University.
Konstantin Djengozov is the second co-founder and chief financial officer of Payhawk. He studied Economics at St. Kliment Ohridski University in Sofia and obtained a Master’s Degree in Finance at the University of World and National Economy.
The third and probably most prominent co-founder and chief executive officer of the company is Hristo Borisov. He studied Computer Science and Business Administration at the American University in Bulgaria, later pursuing his true passion for Executive education at Harvard Business School.
But, business and technology were not his first choice. Before landing on the trajectory that led him to create Payhawk, Hristo wanted to study journalism and was really into photography. But, knowing his way around computers, landed him a software developer’s job before he even started university - and he took the opportunity as soon as it came by.
Settling into the Roles
Boyko Karadzov started his career as a software developer at Marvena and then moved on to work at Telerik, one of Bulgaria’s leading software companies. He stayed at the company for seven years as a software engineer, and it is here that he connected with the people who later formed Payhawk.
Konstantin Dzengozov began his career as a trainee in the Financial Services Audit Group, where he then landed a senior advisor position, staying for four years. Later on, he transferred to Progress where he worked on financial planning and analysis. With over 10 years of experience in corporate finance, strategic planning, and business development, he is a key component to the success of Payhawk.
With a knack for public speaking and a natural talent for leadership, Hristo Borisov began his career as a software developer at Masthead Studios. Before Payhawk, he worked in Progress as a software developer, team lead, and product manager. In 2015 he created Citizens, a crowdsourcing platform aimed at improving driver behavior on the streets.
It was the fastest-growing app on the Google app store in Bulgaria, with 22,000+ users during the first few weeks. In 2016, he co-founded Darvin.ai, a platform that creates and deploys chatbots using AI.
Hristo wanted to create a big software company that would scale internationally. So, together with his partners, he devised a strategy to build a successful and durable business that would scale fast. They soon realized that the most important thing was finding a large enough market to address its needs. This is how they decided to get involved in finance management - they realized that banks are not the only payment solution, and the market is in need of a more efficient system.
Up and Running
In 2018, Borisov, Karadzov, and Dzengozov joined forces and launched Payhawk, an innovative financial system that enables businesses to simplify their expense management. Initially, they established their business as a payment and expense software company, but nine months later, they issued their all-in-one financial software and card.
In the beginning, they started with a few members working from the Bulgarian office, offering their services to small companies and other startups, but with time, the team reached hundreds of employees working from all over Europe (and as of late, the US) catering to the needs of larger businesses as well.
Apart from Sofia, Payhawk has offices in London, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, and New York.
Despite the company's rapid success and growth, the road had no shortage of challenges and obstacles. Well into the first year of doing business, Payhawk experienced a dramatic decrease in their budget and even reached a point where they had enough money to last 25 days. This was right before they received their major investment from Early Bird, one of Europe's largest venture capital investors. They were turned down by dozens of other investors and nearly struck rock bottom. Yet, they managed to soar back up to the sky.
Payhawk provides small businesses with an effective solution for the hurdles of finance management by enabling them to use a single and all-encompassing system for all of their payments and financial endeavors. Payhawk offers 80% less manual data entry, 1.5% cashback on every payment, and infinite improvement when it comes to efficiency in finance management.
Payhawk has had six funding rounds with 19 investors so far, raising a total of $239.1M. Their latest round was closed on March 1st, 2022, and brought them the status of the first ever Bulgarian - and regional - unicorn company.
Among the newest investors are Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sprints Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, HubSpot Ventures, and Jigsaw VC.
The company closed the first round of its Series B investments last November when it raised $112 million at a $570 million valuation. In March, they added an extra $100 million to the round, reaching a post-money valuation of over $1 billion. After that, the company has been thinking about an initial public offering as a logical next step.
Currently, Payhawk's estimated annual revenue is $33.7 million, or $143,000 per employee.
Payhawk’s Bright Future Ahead
2022 has been a year of record growth for Payhawk. The launching of the New York office has been a huge part of their expansion strategy seeing a growth of 524% in revenue and 354% in employees.
But this is merely the beginning. The company has great plans for the future, aiming to become the largest fintech company on the market. Currently, the main headquarters are located in London, UK, and the company has more than 230 employees and users in 32 countries worldwide.
If the past is any indicator, it’s safe to say that Payhawk is on an upward trajectory with a very bright future ahead. And with a business-savvy trio running the platform and making their own mark on the industry, the future for Payhawk is yet unraveling.