Kirk Simpson: The man behind Wave
Kirk Simpson is the co-founder and CEO of Wave, a provider of cloud-based, integrated software and tools for small businesses. Kirk has led Wave to over 3 million small business signups from every country around the world and well over 12,000,000 in total users on the platform; Kirk has raised $80 million in capital and manages an incredible team of close to 175 of the best and brightest minds in North America.
What is your primary responsibility as CEO of Wave?
I drive our vision to become the financial platform that helps entrepreneurs run and grow their business. To get us there, I make sure we are hiring and retaining the best people, continue to be relentlessly unsatisfied so that we all produce our best-possible work, and ensure the company is well funded so we can achieve all of our goals.
Please describe Wave’s new Instant Payout Feature that is integrated with Visa Direct (Visa’s real-time push payments solution), and how is it unique in the marketplace?
We know that cashflow is the life-blood for entrepreneurs. The new Instant Payout feature allows a small business owner to go from invoice to payment to money in their account in under 15 seconds. Small business owners are used to waiting for up to 30-60 days for their money so this is a game-changing product for them.
Was the Instant Payout Feature specifically designed for SMEs or large enterprises as well?
Wave is all about the small business owner. We don’t use the language “SME” here. We are all about SBs (small businesses). They are the life-blood of the economy and are under-served because it’s traditionally been difficult to make the unit economics work in serving them exclusively.
Please describe the early feedback that you have received from your customers regarding Instant Payouts? What is the number one aspect of the new offering that they have specifically enjoyed and has benefited their business most?
Those who have used the product (it’s still in beta) now move almost 50% of their funds through Instant Payouts. It has been incredibly successful because it solves a specific pain point and serves that need really well.
Why do you believe staying creative and “ahead of the curve” is particularly important in this industry?
I don’t believe staying “ahead of the curve” is the mission. What we pride ourselves on is solving the pain points experienced by small business owners. We want to check them off one at a time to make it easier to start and run a small business. That is our goal.
How have your previous work experiences helped you in your current role as CEO of Wave? And did those experiences inspire you to ultimately create Wave back in 2009?
First, I’ve always loved and have been drawn to using technology to solve problems. It’s been an important part of my career. I think technology, focused on the important areas, can be an enabler of good things in the world.
Second, having been a small business owner who hated everything to do with bookkeeping, payroll, chasing payments, etc… I know the pain first-hand. Small business owners, like I was, are passionate about being a photographer or an electrician or a web designer, this other stuff gets in the way. We want to make it easier so they can spend more time doing what they love.
Can you give us a sneak peek into the next big project that you are working on to benefit SMEs in Canada and worldwide? Or perhaps briefly describe the general nature of the products you are starting to work on?
Our recent acquisition of Every, a fintech company that provides business accounts and debit cards to small businesses, is a sneak peek into the future. We’re advancing on our plans to integrate more financial products and services directly into Wave. It will help entrepreneurs improve cash flow, get paid faster, save time and money, and better understand how their business is doing. That’s where we are going.
As CEO of Wave, where do you see the company going 5-10 years from now? What is the ultimate goal and vision of the company?
It is all about making life easier for small business owners. We have so much to do to make the lives of entrepreneurs better. We want to remove as much friction as possible. But it’s complicated so these things take time. Unfortunately, I’m not a very patient person, but we have to look at these things in multi-year increments in order to do them well.
We’ve laid a very strong foundation for the company. Now it’s time to build upon it.
On a personal note, what are your hobbies and what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I have three kids so I spend a lot of time chasing them around. When I have free time, I enjoy spending it with friends and adventure travel, like skiing, surfing, hiking and the occasional round of golf.