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August 3, 2022
10 min read

How Alloi optimized its banking stack on Highbeam

Alloi is the consumer products brand applying their proprietary alloy technology — over 70% metal and 99% germ-resistant — to the everyday carry space, from phone cases to face masks.

We sat down with Nick O'Brien, Co-Founder and CFO of Alloi, to learn more about the brand’s “pain-free” switch to Highbeam and the platform’s “powerful” impacts. Topics covered include:

  1. Alloi’s growing pains of using vertical-agnostic banking platforms
  2. The outsized value in partnering with an ecommerce-specific banking tool
  3. How Highbeam adds value across credit, accounting, and bookkeeping
"Highbeam is a no-brainer. They not only built a best-in-class banking platform for Shopify brands but also drastically improved our core financial stack."
Alloi Premium Metal Phone Case

Why Alloi needed a bank designed for ecommerce

Before making the jump to Highbeam, the Alloi team banked with a vertical-agnostic platform from day one that didn’t understand their specific needs as an ecommerce merchant.

Critically, it failed to understand that growing merchants like Alloi had ongoing needs for online commerce, like wiring large amounts of money for inventory. In other words, the previous bank didn’t have the support pathways fully built out to help them with their ecommerce needs.

The final straw: frustrating wiring errors

These foundational issues came to a head when the Alloi team encountered a wiring error and wound up with $15,000 in escrow for 60 days in the early stages of the company.

Their previous bank attempted to fix the issue but lacked the support team with ecommerce specific expertise to solve it. In addition, the platform considered Alloi a small client and thus not worth reallocating personnel and support resources towards. In Nick’s words, this was the final straw.

What could have been a simple fix devolved into potentially significant damage for a younger startup, leaving the brand to consider how things might escalate as they continued to scale.

"In terms of tooling and infrastructure, ecommerce businesses have very specific financial needs. To be direct, our old bank wasn’t built to support those needs."
Highbeam - Homepage

Benefit #1: customer success with ecommerce expertise

The Alloi team eventually resolved to log off their previous bank and found Highbeam in the search for a new neobank. As Nick recounts, the two teams hit it off during their sales call.

He was initially hesitant due to the friction of switching banking stacks, which keeps countless startup teams locked into less-than-ideal circumstances. For instance:

  • Banking software is both a foreign tool and a critical piece of your business
  • Every account wired to your debit cards, ACH numbers, etc. is rendered invalid

However, once they considered the value they could be accruing from Highbeam’s immediate cashback, account management support, and so on — it was “a no-brainer.” The sooner Alloi made the switch, the more benefits they could reap in the long run.

Network effects taking hold

After ramping up, Nick reiterates the embedded network effects of being able to directly access other high-growth brands’ expertise and learnings across the Highbeam merchant ecosystem.

While every merchant’s growth trajectory and specific ecommerce niche are different, they all experience similar pain points and frustrations related to their businesses’ key financial needs.

As for learning to interact with the platform itself, Nick describes a “clean, straightforward” UI — similar to that of other intuitive, everyday SaaS tools — that makes for a “pain-free” changeover.

He also calls the tooling “surprisingly powerful,” in terms of features like a near-instant Shopify data sync that allows access to Highbeam’s “high-value” instant payouts.

"Highbeam makes it as pain-free as possible to switch. They seriously helped us out in onboarding, in addition to all of the other brands we've sent their way."
Alloi Premium Metal Phone Case

Benefit #2: a trusted partner to navigate credit options

Since implementing Highbeam, Nick describes coming to one crucial realization. Having a banking provider that's genuinely aligned with your incentives is radically different from having an infrastructure partner whose goal is to extract capital from its users.

Alloi points to previously adversarial dynamics that existed with their past banking providers, with their business frequently getting hit with overdraft feeds paired with a lack of support. Since launching the brand, Nick and his team had been looking for something more than just a banking partner.

Rather, they wanted a trusted advisor that deeply understood their ecommerce business and could proactively provide tools, services, and guidance for their finances.

After switching to Highbeam, Nick recounts team members helping Alloi forecasting and work through options to improve cash flow and run the brand as financially efficiently as possible. In his words, "Highbeam feels like a genuine partner. They gave us the peace of mind and financial security that every early-stage merchant should have from day one.”

The complexity of modern credit providers

Similarly, Nick describes Highbeam's role as a neutral third party for guidance (but one that's still invested in Alloi's performance) as immensely helpful in fiscal decision-making.

Almost every ecommerce merchant requires alternative capital in the form of debt or credit to scale, specifically due to upfront inventory costs and ongoing marketing spend.

However, finding the right credit partners for each phase of growth is increasingly difficult as more capital providers and lenders enter the ecommerce playing field. In addition, every credit offering is slightly different, each selling capital at different rates on different repayment terms.

A number of modern neo-lenders present seemingly attractive but often predatory terms. Founders are then trapped when they underestimate, for instance, the impact of annualized net interest or a consistent 15–20% revenue payout on their cash flow.

In Nick’s words, navigating a historically opaque credit process requires an inordinate amount of time, energy, and attention that he would prefer to spend growing the business.

So, Nick turned to Highbeam – an ecommerce-specific trusted advisor that’s embedded in his business and knows the brand’s needs – to help him decide what credit partners to work with.

"When it comes to navigating the credit process, Highbeam deeply understood our needs and helped us find the right alternative capital providers. Having them in our corner as a trusted resource has been essential to Alloi’s financial health."
Highbeam - Credit Comparison

Benefit #3: growing with confidence

Looking forward, Nick points to one final benefit of Highbeam: growing with confidence. As the brand continues to scale topline growth, Alloi not only requires a core finance platform to build on but also needs vetted connections and access to adjacent parts of the finance stack.

For example, as the business hits new revenue targets, Nick adds that they will need modern solutions related to bookkeeping, tax management, and credit alternatives, to name just a few.

Rather than navigating this finance stack in isolation, as Nick’s team was forced to do using generic startup banks, they can now confidently scale with Highbeam’s network in their corner. Meanwhile, all Highbeam clients receive a ROAS boost with 2% cashback on marketing spend — a game-changer for young founders like the Alloi team with less access to personal credit.

Hypergrowth with Highbeam

Given that Alloi is a small team with tighter resources, every edge they gain (however small) in terms of financial planning and future opportunities is essential. In this sense, he affirms that Highbeam lives up to its name by enabling Alloi’s forward-facing visibility of and access to their finances — far beyond simply checking daily account balances.

As for what’s on the horizon, Nick plans to beta-test Highbeam’s early-stage features in the pipeline, including modern tooling to create data-based fiscal forecasting models.

"The premise is in the name. Highbeam enables influential, forward-facing visibility of your finances. For small teams like us, that is very powerful."

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